Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of… the 1840's, pt.2 (1846-1849)

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Featuring lots of Russian lit, the arrival of Melville and the major Bronte works!

Poll Results

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte 6
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte 6
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray 5
Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life by Herman Melville 1
Mardi, and A Voyage Thither by Herman Melville 1
Poor Folk by Fyodor Dostoevsky 0
Jack Tier or The Florida Reef by James Fenimore Cooper 0
Dombey And Son by Charles Dickens 0
The Tenants Of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte 0
The Two Baronesses by Hans Christian Andersen 0
La Dame aux Camélias by Alxenadre Dumas 0
Kavanagh by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 0
The Caxtons: A Family Picture by Edward Bullwer-Lytton 0
Shirley, A Tale by Charlotte Bronte 0
Les Belles-de-nuit by Paul Féval 0
Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell 0
Polinka Saks by Alexander Druzhinin 0
A Common Story by Ivan Goncharov 0
The Village by Dmitry Grigorovich 0
Mrs. Perkins's Ball by William Makepeace Thackeray 0
Cousin Bette by Honoré de Balzac 0
La Mare Au Diable by George Sand 0
The Two Dianas by Alexandre Dumas 0
Who Is To Blame? by Alexander Herzen 0
Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte 0
The Macdermots of Ballycloran by Anthony Trollope 0
The Hermaphrodite by Julia Ward Howe 0
The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later by Alexandre Dumas 0
Anton Goremyka by Dmitry Grigorovich 0
La Petite Fadette by George Sand 0

Daniel_Rf, Wednesday, 29 April 2020 11:16 (five months ago) link

Vanity Fair for me, followed by Jane Eyre.

Daniel_Rf, Wednesday, 29 April 2020 11:17 (five months ago) link

(a heads up on the finished poll w/ a link to the new one would be appreciated in the future, for bookmarkers like me)

I never did find out if Goncharov was being anti-romantic in his debut or if he was just, y'know, trolling.

VF, baby!

Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Wednesday, 29 April 2020 12:15 (five months ago) link

i remember reading and loving the three musketeers and 20 years later as a kid, and when my aunt and uncle came to visit us i'd asked them to bring me vicomte de bragelonne (as i was living halfway across the world, in a country with no french libraries and no english versions of that book to be found). they relented and brought with them the 3 or 4 massive volumes, which ended up taking valuable space in their suitcase. i started reading them and never got further than 30 pages in, much to their chagrin. so at least i know which book i won't vote for.
can barely remember jane eyre and wuthering heights, which i read at school, in what i realised later were abridged versions. that school also had me read abridged versions of shakespeare plays and other classics, and the concept of abridged versions is extremely weird to me. i should probably try again with the real versions of the text. i'll probably end up voting for vanity fair.

Jibe, Wednesday, 29 April 2020 13:19 (five months ago) link

I remember Jane Eyre pretty well , but not Wuthering Heights and I read the full version of that!

My fave crazy abridged version is this Portuguese edition of Anna Karenina that is like 200 pages.

(a heads up on the finished poll w/ a link to the new one would be appreciated in the future, for bookmarkers like me)

Noted! I always get very nervous about screwing up BBCode on here.

Daniel_Rf, Wednesday, 29 April 2020 13:38 (five months ago) link

Just copy/paste it, no code needed!

Wuthering Heights, for semi-obscure autobiographical reasons.

pomenitul, Wednesday, 29 April 2020 14:04 (five months ago) link

The two more famous Brontes are both excellent. Never read Thackeray (uh in addition to almost everything else here) so might go with Jane Eyre

dip to dup (rob), Wednesday, 29 April 2020 14:11 (five months ago) link

Pretty sure I've only read Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights out of these, and I'm not sure I like either enough to vote for them. I've probably mentioned this before, but for the longest time I had those two and Rebecca jumbled up in my head, the melodrama levels of this mashed-up book were insane.

emil.y, Wednesday, 29 April 2020 14:13 (five months ago) link

Admittedly some of my affection for JE is probably due to Wide Sargasso Sea

dip to dup (rob), Wednesday, 29 April 2020 14:13 (five months ago) link

Daniel, you probably said this in the other thread, but where are you sourcing these lists? Just wondering as I'd never heard of that Howe novel, and, while it sounds completely fascinating, it wasn't discovered until 1977 and it's unfinished (I can see why it might have attracted a ton of recent interest though).

dip to dup (rob), Wednesday, 29 April 2020 14:20 (five months ago) link

Rebecca and Jane Eyre share some pretty major themes, can see how you'd get them mixed up

xpost I'm being lazy and just looking up "novels of the decade" on wikipedia, then filtering through the ones that I've heard of or the ones that sound interesting, and adjusting so overactive authors don't get overrepresented (since we can only have 50 options). If something's not English, American, French or Russian it gets added automatically. The Howe was a close call, wasn't going to include it because I'd never heard of it and it's unfinished, but it just seemed too fascinating to pass up on and a good opportunity to insert some LGBTQ representation into an era that obviously doesn't have much of that (in text at least, subtext's another matter).

Daniel_Rf, Wednesday, 29 April 2020 14:25 (five months ago) link

Wuthering Heights, for semi-obscure autobiographical reasons.

― pomenitul, Wednesday, April 29, 2020 4:04 PM (sixteen minutes ago) bookmarkflaglink

Lol, though surely different semi-obscure autobiographical reasons as your own, the same applies to me.

"We'll always have Top W1th3ns", he whispered.

Narrator: "They didn't have Top W1th3ns always."

xpost got it, and yeah I'd love to hear from anyone here who has read it

dip to dup (rob), Wednesday, 29 April 2020 14:32 (five months ago) link

Jane Eyre

Maria Edgelord (cryptosicko), Wednesday, 29 April 2020 16:12 (five months ago) link

I really don't want to crap on the Brontes, who are good, but Vanity Fair towers above them. Haven't read the rest on here. Are the early Trollope and Melville good?

Guayaquil (eephus!), Thursday, 30 April 2020 02:21 (five months ago) link

I've read half of Jane Eyre and half of Wuthering Heights. Not voting.

wasdnous (abanana), Thursday, 30 April 2020 02:56 (five months ago) link

just dropping into say imagine having "makepeace" as your middle name???

i am a horse girl (map), Thursday, 30 April 2020 03:33 (five months ago) link

I've never been a big reader of 19th century novels, at least, when you compare the few I have read to the long list of famous novels I have not. Perhaps shockingly, I've never yet read a Bronte, a Thackeray, or a Sand. I shall abstain.

A is for (Aimless), Thursday, 30 April 2020 03:42 (five months ago) link


Or last name!

A White, White Gay (cryptosicko), Thursday, 30 April 2020 04:06 (five months ago) link


As much as I like Vanity Fair, this dig of Charlotte Brontë's could apply to a few of the VF characters as well

"Their good woman is a queer thing, half doll, half angel; their bad woman almost always a fiend. Then to hear them fall into ecstasies with each other's creations— worshipping the heroine of such a poem, novel, drama — thinking it fine, divine! Fine and divine it may be, but often quite artificial — false as the rose in my best bonnet there. If I spoke all I think on this point, if I gave my real opinion of some first-rate female characters in first-rate works, where should I be? Dead under a cairn of avenging stones in half an hour."

Although she grew up a huge Thackeray fangirl, and dedicated her first published work to him, in this letter from 1852, talking about another Thackeray, she finds more fault:

"As usual - he is unjust to women - quite unjust: there is hardly any punishment he does not deserve for making Lady Castlewood peep through a key-hole, listen at a door and be jealous of a boy and a milkmaid"

Some of which I'm sure she explained to him in this probably very entertaining scene of 1.50m vs 1.90m stature:

"The giant sate before me; I was moved to speak to him of some of his short-comings (literary of course); one by one the faults came into my head and one by one I brought them out, and sought some explanation or defense”

He seemed pretty good-natured about it, in his defense, and invited her to dinner afterwards.

Shirley is underrated, and Tenant of Wildfell Hall would win a vote from me in a couple of imagined polls, but in the end I have to vote for Jane Eyre.

abcfsk, Thursday, 30 April 2020 07:03 (five months ago) link

I think the protagonists of VF can certainly be criticised as artificial in the way Bronte describes but surely it deserves some props for having the fiend be the true heroine of the story and the half doll, half angel be someone the novel ends up condemning?

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 30 April 2020 09:43 (five months ago) link

Agreed, but while Becky Sharp is a'cool' heroine and a modern one for the time, she still has to pay for her sins, and there's something familiar about the 'demonized female satirist' (phrase stolen). Agree that VF is not the first novel to point at for the above criticism, though.

abcfsk, Thursday, 30 April 2020 14:56 (five months ago) link

I'm rereading Wuthering Heights. I can't think of another English Victorian novelist whose prose was as spare as EB's.

I keep forgetting how intense the violence – emotional and physical – is in this novel: Catherine bashing her head against the arm of a chair, Heathcliff calling Isabella a slut, etc.

― recriminations from the nitpicking woke (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, March 19, 2019 12:11 PM

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 30 April 2020 15:38 (five months ago) link

Tenant of Wildfell Hall is almost as powerful; its happy ending is earned.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 30 April 2020 15:38 (five months ago) link

i started reading TYPEE once when i was stuck somewhere and bored and had nothing to read but free ebooks on my phone. i got about 30 pages in, then felt like this was the kinda book that was best appreciated in an oversized edition with, like, n.c. wyeth style illustrations. but i'm sure i'll go back someday cuz it's hard to resist a book where the first two sentences both end in exclamation marks:

Six months at sea! Yes, reader, as I live, six months out of sight of land; cruising after the sperm-whale beneath the scorching sun of the Line, and tossed on the billows of the wide-rolling Pacific -- the sky above, the sea around, and nothing else!

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Friday, 1 May 2020 04:02 (five months ago) link

It feels a bit unimaginative to vote for Jane Eyre but I had to do it. Haven't read any of the foreign-language books, though, so I'm not sure how much my vote should even count.

Heathcliff calling Isabella a slut

Did slut have the same sexual connotation then that it does now? I thought it meant, like, slovenly, sloppy, lazy - still a gendered insult, but not the same gendered insult it is now.

The fillyjonk who believed in pandemics (Lily Dale), Friday, 1 May 2020 23:17 (five months ago) link

In the sense of 'a woman of a low or loose character; a bold or impudent girl; a hussy, jade', the OED dates it as far back as 1450. As far as contemporaneous usage is concerned, the following quote from Nicholas Nickleby is provided: 'Never let anybody who is a friend of mine speak to her; a slut, a hussy.'

pomenitul, Friday, 1 May 2020 23:27 (five months ago) link

a slattern, even

A is for (Aimless), Friday, 1 May 2020 23:28 (five months ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Sunday, 3 May 2020 00:01 (five months ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Monday, 4 May 2020 00:01 (five months ago) link


abcfsk, Monday, 4 May 2020 08:56 (five months ago) link

I just started reading Yeast: A Problem from 1948, and am thinking that Gaddis and Pynchon probably read this one.

Muswell Hillbilly Elegy (President Keyes), Tuesday, 12 May 2020 02:20 (five months ago) link

Oh yeah, Charles Kingsley, also author of The Water Babies! I first (and last) came across him in a CS Lewis essay. (You mean 1848.)
nfluencing the Inklings: George MacDonald and the Victorian Roots of Modern Fantasy
edited by Michael Partridge and Kirstin Jeffrey Johnson


​Magdalen College, where C.S. Lewis taught in Oxford, was an appropriate site for the “Informing the Inklings” conference hosted by the George MacDonald Society. Participants explored how MacDonald and fellow literary figures such as S.T. Coleridge, Lewis Carroll, Charles Kingsley, and Andrew Lang paved the way for 20th century fantasists such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. The twelve essays collected in this book examine this rich lineage of mythmakers. Contributors include Stephen Prickett, Malcolm Guite, Trevor Hart, and Jean Webb as well as other Inklings experts. Like the authors they write about, these scholars believe imaginative fiction has the power to enrich and even change our lives.
more info:

dow, Tuesday, 12 May 2020 02:54 (five months ago) link

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