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Thursday, 3 January 2019

North and South: 1st impressions

I’m reading North and South, my 1st Elizabeth Gaskell. 
Tom at Wuthering Expectations read it nearly 8 years ago, and complained that “the plain ol’ novel writing of Elizabeth Gaskell looked pretty thin at the sentence level”. 
After Henry James’s dense prose, the plain prose of Elizabeth Gaskell doesn’t bother me too much. At least so far she’s not as dry as George Eliot. 
Now and then, a sentence bothers me a bit, like this one: 
“She was so happy out of doors, at her father's side, that she almost danced; and with the soft violence of the west wind behind her, as she crossed some heath, she seemed to be borne onwards, as lightly and easily as the fallen leaf that was wafted along by the autumnal breeze.” (Ch.2) 
Or this awkwardly phrased sentence:
“There were plenty of questions to be asked on both sides—the latest intelligence which each could give of Mrs. Shaw's movements in Italy to be exchanged; and in the interest of what was said, the unpretending simplicity of the parsonage-ways—above all, in the neighbourhood of Margaret, Mr. Lennox forgot the little feeling of disappointment with which he had at first perceived that she had spoken but the simple truth when she had described her father's living as very small.” (Ch.3) 
Generally it doesn’t bother me much. 
Rohan Maitzen called North and South an industrial version of Pride and Prejudice. I guess we’ll see.

2 comments:

  1. Good example, that leaf is not merely plain but bad, a cliché used in haste. That weekly serial pace must have been a nightmare.

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    1. Oh I wasn't aware it was serialised. Sounds like a nightmare.

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