Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of… the 1850's, pt.2 (1856-1859)

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I haven't read anything from this list! Very impressed by wikipedia here tho - feels like there's a lot more novels from outside the UK/US/France/Russia contingents starting to get listed, and also some African-American ones.

Poll Results

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert 5
The Confidence-Man by Herman Melville 3
Oblomov by Ivan Goncharov 2
Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope 2
A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens 2
Inspirações da Tarde by Bernardo Guimarães 1
Le Bossu by Paul Féval 0
Ayit Tzavua by Abraham Mapu 0
Boyarshchina by Aleksey Pisemsky 0
My Lady Ludlow by Elizabeth Gaskell 0
Phantastes by George McDonald 0
Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp by Hariet Beecher Stowe 0
Blake; or the Huts of America by Martin Delany 0
The Minister's Wooing by Harriet Beecher Stowe 0
Adam Bede by George Eliot 0
Home Of The Gentry by Ivan Turgenev 0
Youth by Leo Tolstoy 0
The Guarani by José de Alencar 0
John Halifax, Gentleman by Dinah Craik 0
The Shaving Of Shagpat by George Meredith 0
Hertha by Fredrika Bremer 0
Rudin by Ivan Turgenev 0
The Chronicle Of Sparrow Lane by Wilhelm Raabe 0
Tom Brown's School Days by Thomas Hughes 0
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens 0
The Professor by Charlotte Bronte 0
The Virginians by William Makepeace Thackeray 0
Les Beaux Messieurs de Bois-Doré by George Sand 0
The Wolf Leader by Alexandre Dumas 0
Alaler Gharer Dulal by Peary Chand Mitra 0
The Village of Stepanchikovo by Fyodor Dostoevsky 0

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 12 May 2020 15:48 (one year ago) link

No Le Roman de la momie? :(

pomenitul, Tuesday, 12 May 2020 15:53 (one year ago) link

Anyway, looks like I'm going to continue voting for the safe, uninspired canonical choice for a while longer: Madame Bovary by a country (heh) mile.

pomenitul, Tuesday, 12 May 2020 15:55 (one year ago) link

still haven't read Adam Bede

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 12 May 2020 15:59 (one year ago) link

Have only read M. Bovary, which I didn't really enjoy tbh. There is no way this much Stowe is justified. These polls are making me realize I've read less Dickens than I thought I had

dip to dup (rob), Tuesday, 12 May 2020 17:09 (one year ago) link

Adam Bede isn't a top 3 Eliot, but Dinah Morris has stuck with me as a character. Should re-read it but then I am currently re-reading Daniel Deronda.

abcfsk, Tuesday, 12 May 2020 17:21 (one year ago) link

Madame Bovary for me. Tom Brown's Schooldays is garbage

Wuhan!! Got You All in Check (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Tuesday, 12 May 2020 17:23 (one year ago) link

i mean this is bovary obvs but ima vote for barchester towers anyway

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Wednesday, 13 May 2020 00:19 (one year ago) link

As long as wikipedia keeps trolling me with pro-confederacy novels I'll keep listing Stowe.

Gotta admit I have no idea which Trollope novels to include!

Daniel_Rf, Wednesday, 13 May 2020 09:44 (one year ago) link

why because they look interesting:

Alaler Gharer Dulal (Bengali: আলালের ঘরের দুলাল, published in 1857) is a Bengali novel by Peary Chand Mitra (1814-1883). The writer used the pseudonym Tekchand Thakur for this novel. The novel describes the society of the nineteenth century Calcutta (also known as Kolkata), and the bohemian lifestyle of the protagonist named Matilal.

The Guarani: Brazilian Novel (Portuguese: O Guarani: Romance Brasileiro) is a 1857 Brazilian novel written by José de Alencar. It was first serialized in the newspaper Diário do Rio de Janeiro, but due to its enormous success Alencar decided to compile his writing in a volume. A plausible explanation for this success might be in the fact that the novel spoke of freedom and independence, arguing for a nativeness that could be found in tropical Nature and in the indigenous people of Brazil. Years later the novel was turned into an opera performed in Italian and called Il Guarany (1870), by Carlos Gomes, among other places it was presented in Milan and New York (it is a known fact[citation needed] that the author did not appreciate the final result). The Guarani is regarded a foundational text of Brazilian Romanticism, but it gained international projection by being translated into Spanish, German (Der Guarany, Brasilianischer Roman, Maximillian Emerich, 1876) and English (The Guarany, Brazilian novel, James W. Hawes, 1893).

Phantastes: A Faerie Romance for Men and Women is a fantasy novel by Scottish writer George MacDonald, first published in London in 1858. It was later reprinted in paperback by Ballantine Books as the fourteenth volume of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series in April 1970. The story centres on the character Anodos ("pathless", or "ascent" in Greek) and takes its inspiration from German Romanticism, particularly Novalis. The story concerns a young man who is pulled into a dreamlike world and there hunts for his ideal of female beauty, embodied by the "Marble Lady". Anodos lives through many adventures and temptations while in the other world, until he is finally ready to give up his ideals.

Ayit Tzavua (Hebrew: עיט צבוע), literally The Painted Eagle, or The Hypocrite is an 1858 Hebrew novel by Abraham Mapu. The novel is partly set in the salon of a Lithuanian magnate, in which enlightened Poles and Jews meet and discuss Voltaire, philosophy and the Jews.

Blake; or The Huts of America: A Tale of the Mississippi Valley, the Southern United States, and Cuba is a novel by Martin Delany, initially published in two parts: The first in 1859 by the Anglo-African Magazine (AAM), and the second, during the earlier part of the American Civil War, in 1861-62 by the Weekly Anglo-African Magazine (WAA).[1] The serial novel was left incomplete due to the fact that “there are no extant copies of the May 1862 issues, which probably contain the final chapters.”[1][2] A book version, edited by Floyd Miller, was published by Beacon Press in 1970, and later a corrected edition, edited by Jerome McGann, was published by Harvard University Press of Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2017.[3]

Blake; or The Huts of America has been stated by Katie L. Chilies as chronicling various permeations of a diasporic, Black nation-state, exemplified by the transnational odyssey of its protagonist, Henry Blake, through the American South, Canada, and Cuba.[2] She has also stated that Delaney's writing takes an anthropological approach in the ways it highlights Black American southern dialect, national identity, and geography through Blake's interviews of enslaved persons located on the plantations passed through along his insurrectional journey.

Daniel_Rf, Wednesday, 13 May 2020 09:51 (one year ago) link

Oblomov over Bovary, for me.

From the first 20 years of these polls it's really so lol clear how about half a dozen novels really stand out from the rest (I've only read a couple myself, but the others I haven't like Bovary or Wuthering is what you'd expect).

It's not like, say, the 60s and 70s rock canon, where you can comfotably ignore what's at the top with plenty of great stuff around the margins. Although you couldn't say that about the 50s...so maybe these years of the novel are like the 50s.

I should delete this post but I'm too far in now.

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 13 May 2020 11:09 (one year ago) link

I'd say that it depends on what your taste is or how much you can stand of dated material. Like there isn't been much love now for penny dreadful stuff like Mysteries or Paris or Mysteries of London, but those books were massively popular in their day. I also like some of the children's lit from this period that didn't make the poll--like Captain Marryat's books. And don't forget that we're leaving out short fiction from these polls--and you could probably find a load of classics in there.

Muswell Hillbilly Elegy (President Keyes), Wednesday, 13 May 2020 17:41 (one year ago) link

some other American novels from this time period:

Christopher Pearse Cranch: The Last of the Huggermuggers.
The first of the children's books by the poet and humorist-among the few original fairy stories written in nineteenth-century America-is a Gulliver-like tale of a shipwrecked sailor on an island inhabited by two giants. Kobboltzo (1857), its sequel, deals with an evil dwarf living on the same island.

Caroline Lee Hentz: Ernest Linwood; or, The Inner Life of the Author.
The author's most autobiographical novel, about a woman married to an insanely jealous man and the struggle between domesticity and having a career as an author.

Mary Jane Holmes (1825-1907): Lena Rivers.
The most famous work of the prolific and popular author concerns a young girl, orphaned when her father disappears, who is accused of wrongdoing and is sent from her country village in Massachusetts to live with wealthy, snobbish relatives in Kentucky.

Mary Hayden Green Pike: Caste: A Story of Republican Equality.
Among the author's best-known writings, the novel tells the story of a brother and sister who suffer many hardships when their African American ancestry is discovered. The popular book is published under the pseudonym Sydney A. Story and is particularly controversial for highlighting prejudice against African Americans in the North.

William Gilmore Simms: Charlemont; or, The Pride of the Village.
An expansion of the beginning of his earlier novel Beauchampe (1842), detailing the seduction of Margaret Cooper by Wharham Sharp, a young attorney disguised as a theological student. After he breaks his promise of marriage and her illegitimate child dies, she vows to kill Warham. The work is based on the Kentucky crime involving Anna Cook and her husband Jeroboam O. Beauchamp, who killed Colonel Solomon P. Sharp.

Catharine Maria Sedgwick: Married or Single? Written to justify single womanhood, this novel considers the various pursuits that can be undertaken by unmarried women, though in the end Sedgwick's heroine finds happiness in matrimony. Sedgwick's final novel is described by the North American Review to be "both in an artistical and ethical point of view, the best of the series that bears her name."

John Townsend Trowbridge (1827-1916): Neighbor Jackwood. An antislavery novel by the Boston author of juvenile literature about the beautiful Camille Delisard, the daughter of a Frenchman and his slave, who is sold after her father is killed by his wife. She escapes to Vermont, where she is protected from a villain who wants to claim her as a fugitive slave. She then marries her rescuer, Hector Dunbury. The work, Trowbridge's first success, is considered notorious for the marriage between the white hero and the multiracial heroine.

Frank J. Webb (fl. 1857): The Garies and Their Friends. One of the earliest novels by a black American, portraying a white Southern aristocrat and his mulatto wife and a middle-class black family, is considered the first fictional work to describe free Northern blacks, a lynch mob in a free state, a mixed marriage, and the theme of passing for white.

Nathaniel Parker Willis: Paul Fane; or, Parts of a Life Else Untold. The only novel written by the writer hailed by his contemporaries as a distinguished American poet is the story of a young artist who is cherished by women for his talent, though scorned as a social inferior. It is an allegory of the relationship between American and European society.

Martin R. Delany: Blake; or, The Huts of America. Delany's only novel, partially serialized in the Afro-American Magazine, fully serialized in the Weekly Anglo-African (1861-1862), and published in book form in 1870, describes a slave rebellion in Cuba and the South. Its protagonist is the first fully developed West Indian character in American fiction, and the book is considered the most radical black novel of the nineteenth century. Its themes of militancy and black nationalism anticipate the views of black fiction of the 1960s and 1970s.

Augusta Jane Evans: Beulah. Popular with critics and the public, selling twenty-two thousand copies in its first nine months, this domestic novel concerns a young girl's unrequited love for her guardian. Her religious questioning leads her to read Poe, Emerson, Goethe, Locke, Descartes, Hume, and others.

Harriet E. Adams Wilson (c. 1827-c. 1863): Our Nig; or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black, in a Two-Story White House, North, Showing That Slavery's Shadows Fall Even There. The first novel published in the United States by a black American goes unnoticed until rediscovered by Henry Louis Gates Jr. in 1983. The slave narrative tells the story of Frado, the daughter of a black man and white woman, who becomes an indentured servant after her father dies and her mother deserts her. It details the many hardships of her life, including abuse by her owner and abandonment by her husband while she is pregnant.

Muswell Hillbilly Elegy (President Keyes), Wednesday, 13 May 2020 18:38 (one year ago) link

I'd say that it depends on what your taste is or how much you can stand of dated material.

idk, my analogy was more like "what would be 13th Floor Elevators/Red Krayola etc. of the 1850s". I listen to that way more than Beatles/Stones/Dylan/Van Morrison. What is the good stuff that escapes the canon but wasn't massively popular either?

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 14 May 2020 13:15 (one year ago) link

Just saw a tweet saying that the English translator of Ippolito Nievo's Confession of an Italian has died. It just so happens to be from exactly this period.


xyzzzz__, Thursday, 14 May 2020 13:17 (one year ago) link

xpost I know what you mean, but the passage of time and the change in tastes inevitably narrows things. Also, there were fewer novels being produced back then, and the ones published were usually by people from a particular class. A reader from the 1850s would probably point us to a bunch of books that are now forgotten but until it becomes a hipster hobby to read unknown 150 year old books people will probably stick with the canon.

Muswell Hillbilly Elegy (President Keyes), Thursday, 14 May 2020 14:36 (one year ago) link

haven't read madame bovary yet (it's on the list) but i have read madame bovay's ovaries

Mordy, Thursday, 14 May 2020 15:01 (one year ago) link

It's not like, say, the 60s and 70s rock canon, where you can comfotably ignore what's at the top with plenty of great stuff around the margins. Although you couldn't say that about the 50s...so maybe these years of the novel are like the 50s.

I feel like this is a judgement you can only make if you've actually read most of the deep cuts I've been including (many of which are obscure merely by being outside of the UK/USA/France/Russia circuit)? I haven't either, of course.

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 14 May 2020 16:32 (one year ago) link

The lack of celebrated German novelists in the mid-century is a bit of an oddity from my uninformed perspective (this isn't a knock against your poll, it's a general observation). Poetry and theatre are a different story, of course.

pomenitul, Thursday, 14 May 2020 16:37 (one year ago) link

I noticed that too! Dunno if it's down to wikipedia's flaws or if it truly wasn't a big time for the German novel.

Daniel_Rf, Friday, 15 May 2020 10:12 (one year ago) link

feel like this is a judgement you can only make if you've actually read most of the deep cuts I've been including (many of which are obscure merely by being outside of the UK/USA/France/Russia circuit)? I haven't either, of course.

alternatively, the 13th floor elevators are only interesting if you're committed to the interestingness of some particular and basic rock moves (whereas dylan and the stones are interesting beyond them)

similarly, a lot of british prose fiction of the 19th c is probably interesting if you're committed to the interestingness of the basic moves of victorian narrative

tho idk if trollope is the 13th floor elevators or the stones of this analogy

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Friday, 15 May 2020 12:38 (one year ago) link

actually trollope is the grateful dead of victorian fiction, probably

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Friday, 15 May 2020 12:38 (one year ago) link

I remember a William Gass essay where he wondered what it was like for Victorian novelists like Trollope and Thackeray who thought they were the shit when the translations of the Russian writers suddenly started popping up.

Muswell Hillbilly Elegy (President Keyes), Friday, 15 May 2020 17:44 (one year ago) link

I doubt it made a dent into their superiority complex, except perhaps on an unavowable level.

pomenitul, Friday, 15 May 2020 18:03 (one year ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Saturday, 16 May 2020 00:01 (one year ago) link

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

System, Sunday, 17 May 2020 00:01 (one year ago) link

Haha who read the (not translated into English afaict) Bernardo Guimarães? Is it really good?

Really sad how we read like zero Brazilian lit in Portugal.

Daniel_Rf, Sunday, 17 May 2020 17:27 (one year ago) link

ten months pass...

I've been working my way through 1859 recently. Here's how I'd rank:

1. Adam Bede
2. A Tale of Two Cities
3. On Liberty
4. The Lifted Veil (Eliot)
5. Family Happiness (Tolstoy)
6. The Bertrams (Trollope)
7. Home of the Gentry (Turgenev)
8. The World of Ice (Ballantyne)
9. Oblomov (Goncharov)
10. Village of Stepanchikovo (Dostoevsky)
11. The World of Ice (Ballantyne)
12. Our ---: Sketches from the Life of a Free Black (Wilson)
13. Popular Tales from the Norse
14. The Ordeal of Richard Feverel (Meredith)

Muswell Hillbilly Elegy (President Keyes), Thursday, 15 April 2021 14:02 (six months ago) link

Adam Bede is the only Eliot I haven't read.

How's Richard Feverel? I've started The Egoist three times, assuming Meredith and I are simpatico (otoh I like his poetry and wish it were more anthologized).

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 15 April 2021 14:24 (six months ago) link

why 1859? it's a big year for me as it's also the year of the earliest recorded sounds

Camaraderie at Arms Length, Thursday, 15 April 2021 14:31 (six months ago) link

I’ve been reading through the 19th century year by year—1859 is where I’m at now

Fevered has an interesting concept—a father raising a son in an experimental system. Of course the son rebels. I lost some interest along the way though.

Muswell Hillbilly Elegy (President Keyes), Thursday, 15 April 2021 14:47 (six months ago) link

Did you start at 1800? If so, holy moley that's impressive.

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 15 April 2021 14:48 (six months ago) link

Nice going! I've been curious to read a book by George Meredith for the somewhat silly reason that I have the book "The True History of Mrs. Meredith and Other Lesser Lives" by Diane Johnson on my bookshelf, but feel like I should read something by George Meredith first.

o. nate, Thursday, 15 April 2021 14:56 (six months ago) link

xpost yeah, six years ago. It seemed like 90% of the novels published between 1810 and 1830 were written by Sir Walter Scott.

Muswell Hillbilly Elegy (President Keyes), Thursday, 15 April 2021 15:43 (six months ago) link

In the mid twentieth century replace Scott with Simenon.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 15 April 2021 15:45 (six months ago) link

Do you read anything else, or do you go all 19th century all the time?

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 15 April 2021 15:48 (six months ago) link

I mostly just read children's books to my son now, and comic books

Muswell Hillbilly Elegy (President Keyes), Thursday, 15 April 2021 15:50 (six months ago) link

But I used to read mainly new books, so this project is a bit of a corrective

Muswell Hillbilly Elegy (President Keyes), Thursday, 15 April 2021 15:52 (six months ago) link

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