Tag Archives: Literature

The Ever-Changing State of Literary Criticism

By Larry Trudeau
Larry has been an editor at Gale for over 25 years, and loves doing deep research amid the library stacks. A recent vacation included a day set aside to explore the astonishing Burton Historical Collection at the main branch of the Detroit Public Library.

I was recently reviewing an entry on Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations for an upcoming volume of Nineteenth Century Literary Criticism (NCLC), and was surprised—delighted, really—to see that we were including two reviews of the novel from 1861, the year it was published in book form.

What’s more, there was another article from 1877, in which the reviewer recalled the experience of reading the novel as it came out in weekly installments, between December 1860 and August 1961, in Dickens’s own magazine, All the Year Round. The reviewer, Edwin P. Whipple (how’s that for a good, Victorian-sounding name?), extolled Dickens’s skill at constructing his great novel essentially on the fly, with deadlines constantly looming. “When the novel is read as a whole,” Whipple marveled, “we perceive how carefully the author had prepared us for the catastrophe; but it required feminine sagacity and insight to detect the secret on which the plot turns, as the novel first appeared in weekly parts.” (Feminine sagacity and insight—another echo from another century!) Continue reading

Charlotte-Bronte1

Happy Birthday Charlotte Brontë!

April 21st would be Charlotte Brontë’s 200th birthday. As Jane Eyre is my favourite book and as a fan of Brontë’s in general, I jumped at the chance to do a little research on her and her work. I knew that some letters of Brontë’s had been published in The Times in the early 20th century, so I used those and Elizabeth Gaskell’s biography (both available via Gale Artemis: Primary Sources) to do a little digging. Having read Jane Eyre every year for the past 20 or so years I thought I knew everything there was to know about its history, but I was a little surprised by some of the things I found out…

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Who is Thomas Watters?

I was checking through the transcript of Diaries and Travel Journals of Ernest Satow (a British diplomat who made his career in China and Japan) the other day when I came across the name of “Thomas Watters”.  Satow met and had dinner with him on November 4, 1883 during the former’s holiday leave in London. Continue reading

Chatham House

Dorothy L. Sayers and The Mysterious English

Dorothy L. Sayers (1893-1957) is probably best remembered for her gripping crime novels, and her creation of the much-loved, aristocratic detective Lord Peter Wimsey. It is perhaps less commonly known that, beyond her carefully-woven fictional tales, Sayers also possessed a keen interest in politics and current affairs. In August 1940, it was this interest that prompted Sayers to deliver a speech at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, in London.

Sayers’ speech was entitled The Mysterious English, and the 15-page transcript has been digitised as part of the Chatham House Online Archive .1 As one would expect, the oration is full of Sayers’ characteristic wit and humour, and the document offers a unique insight into the author’s attitudes and opinions. Continue reading