Cranford & Selected Short Stories (Anglais) Broché – 5 janvier 2006
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Présentation de l'éditeur
With an Introduction and Notes by Professor Emeritus John Chapple, University of Hull.</div> <div>
The sheer variety and accomplishment of Elizabeth Gaskell's shorter fiction is amazing. This new volume contains six of her finest stories that have been selected specifically to demonstrate this, and to trace the development of her art. As diverse in setting as in subject matter, these tales move from the gentle comedy of life in a small English country town in Dr Harrison's Confessions, to atmospheric horror in far north-west Wales with The Doom of the Griffiths.</div> <div>
The story of Cousin Phillis, her masterly tale of love and loss, is a subtle, complex and perceptive analysis of changes in English national life during an industrial age, while the gripping Lois the Witch recreates the terrors of the Salem witchcraft trials in seventeenth-century New England, as Gaskell shrewdly shows the numerous roots of this furious outbreak of delusion. Whimsically modified fairy tales are set in a French chateau, while an engaging love story poetically evokes peasant life in wine-growing Germany.</div>
Biographie de l'auteur
John Chapple is Emeritus Professor at the University of Hull.
Alan Shelston is Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Manchester.
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Le livre contient outre Cranford, Les Confessions du Dr Harrisson qui se situent un peu dans la même veine.
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Barton, North and South, Wives and Daughters, etc). The first is that you enjoy the type of story that she tells. Her works are about ordinary people living in rural areas of England during the early part of the 19th century. Other writers, such as Thomas Hardy, Anthony Trollope and George Eliot write similarly, but with varying emphases. By contrast, Charles Dickens wrote about urban people, Jane Austen covered a higher class of society. If you like highly charged adventure stories about heroes, then Sir Walter Scott's work would be more interesting.
The second reason is that Gaskell is a "second tier" writer, important but not in the same class as Dickens, Austen, the Bronte Sisters, etc. To be well rounded and knowledgeable it is important to read at least some authors such as Caskell and Trollope, but I would say that the first priority is to read the best authors first.
Having read these "first tier" authors (in some cases all of their works) I decided to sample Mrs. Gaskell's work and selected Cranford and Other Stories because I thought reading shorter works would give me a better sampling of her art. I wasn't disappointed. This book includes the novella, Cranford and six widely varying short stories.
Essentially Gaskell's theme is the superiority of rural over urban places, but country life is being threatened by the inroads of modernity and urban values. As she herself is quoted as saying in the Introduction to the short stories, referring to rural places, "Oh! that Life would make a stand-still in this happy place." This theme is especially pronounced in Cranford which is a small community largely populated by elderly women. The story is told by a young woman whose name (Mary Smith) we do not know until later in the novella. The main characters are Miss Mattie Jenkyns and Miss Pole. They are characterized by an excessive attachment to outmoded forms of living and a strict sense of propriety. The story begins when Captain Brown, a retired representative of urban living, arrives in their community. Immediately he gets into an argument with Miss Deborah Jenkyns over which author is best. Brown prefers Dickens while Miss Jenkyns favors Samuel Johnson. It is significant that Captain Brown dies shortly thereafter when an oncoming train--a symbol of "progress" that is intruding into country life--strikes him. The other Cranford ladies soon appear, each with her own idiosyncrasies: Mrs. Jamison, Mrs. Forrester and Mrs. Fitz-Adam.
The novella is somewhat boring but has humorous incidents. One is chapter 9 when the ladies learn that a magician, Signor Brunoni is coming to Cranford to give a performance. Miss Pole goes to the auditorium a day early and meets Brunoni while he is practicing. The next night when the ladies come to the theatre they sit in the front row. Brunoni is dressed in his performance outfit and looks different from the day before. Miss Pole refuses to believe that the performer is in fact Signor Brunoni and loudly says that he is an imposter, thereby unsettling him. Later, we learn that Brunoni has a twin brother and it was he that Miss Pole saw on the previous day.
The best part is toward the end when Miss Mattie's loses her life investments. Everyone in the community rallies around her and tries to help. When she tries to dismiss her maid, Martha, the young girl refuses to go and even makes an expensive desert, buying the ingredients with her own meager savings. Martha then persuades her boyfriend, Jem, to marry her sooner than he expected so that she can take Miss Mattie in to live with them. Jem is willing, but still protests to Martha, "It's not that (an unwillingness to get married), it's that you've taken me all on a sudden, and I didn't think for to get married so soon. It's not that I'm against it--marriage nails a man, as one may say. I dare say I shan't mind it after it's once over."
Needless to say he doesn't mind it and all the Cranford residents find happiness in the end.
The value of the country over the city and the harmful effects the latter have on the former are also clear in the short story, Cousin Phillis. A young man, Paul Manning, who begins his working career helping to build a railroad, tells the story. The work takes him close to some relatives, Rev. and Mrs. Holman and their daughter Phillis. Phillis is young and naïve, kept so by her father. The first thing Paul notices about her is that she is still wearing clothing worn by children. Manning becomes acquainted with the family through repeated visits, but realizes that Phillis is not a person he can marry. Paul recounts his experiences with the family to his boss, Edward Holdworth, who then comes to visit the family as well. Holdworth is more sophisticated and Phillis comes to love him and he shows some affection for her as well. But then Holdworth gets a job offer in Canada and leaves with disastrous consequences.
The other short stories show the variety of Gaskell's art. Mr. Harrison's Confessions describe a young doctor's first job in a country town in a warm and mostly humorous fashion. The Doom of the Griffiths is a horror tale, Lois the Witch describes what happens to a young English woman who moves to Salem, MA during the paranoia there over witches. Curious If True is a fantasy dream sequence and Six Weeks at Heppenheim tells of a man's visit to an inn in Germany and the romantic intrigues that ensue.
All in all, it is worth reading these stories and they can give you an idea as to whether or not to read more of Gaskell's work. I have given the book 4 stars because I think it is worth reading, but again it may not be for you.