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Zorral
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OTOH, outside academia I don't think Walter Scott himself is read widely/adapted to new media in the way that Dickens is. Scott is mostly known as the father of the historical novel, and as an influence on Dickens, rather than loved for his characters and works. So - I don't know about how things are in the academic world - but at least in terms of popular literary consciousness, the Porter sisters role in establishing a major genre is forgotten. 

Re: Collins. I remember really enjoying The Woman in White when I was sixteen or so. It still had the page-turning qualities that its contemporary audience must have loved, and if ever I do have a pet cat, there's a fair chance he'll be called Fosco in best nineteenth-century fashion. I've had The Moonstone and Armadale on my to-read list for ages, but never got round to them. 

Edited by dog-days
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In my case, as an academic with a deep interest in fiction and its connections to history and historiography, as well as social and cultural history, historical fiction as a form and genre are perennial concerns. So this reveal of the Porter sisters was an important piece in my understanding of of literary history.  

The two Wilkie Collins novels, The Woman in White and The Moonstone, are still readable; his other stuff doesn't seem to be, though I've only looked into a few of them.  He wrote many books.

Speaking of Dickens, have you all heard of this new novel by Barbara Kingsolver:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2022/oct/16/demon-copperhead-by-barbara-kingsolver-review-appalachian-saga-in-the-spirit-of-dickens

 

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2 hours ago, Zorral said:

In my case, as an academic with a deep interest in fiction and its connections to history and historiography, as well as social and cultural history, historical fiction as a form and genre are perennial concerns. So this reveal of the Porter sisters was an important piece in my understanding of of literary history.  

The two Wilkie Collins novels, The Woman in White and The Moonstone, are still readable; his other stuff doesn't seem to be, though I've only looked into a few of them.  He wrote many books.

Speaking of Dickens, have you all heard of this new novel by Barbara Kingsolver:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2022/oct/16/demon-copperhead-by-barbara-kingsolver-review-appalachian-saga-in-the-spirit-of-dickens

 

My bookclub read the Moonstone last month and we all enjoyed it, even a couple of people who aren't generally readers of the classics. It was actually funny, surprisingly accessible and the multiple points of view added interest. A bit long-winded but that seems a hazard of 19th century serialised novels. As a mystery reader, I enjoyed seeing one of the first depictions of a classic police detective. With the current discussion about the Kohinoor diamond, we all appreciated the ultimate return of the Moonstone to India.

I don't know about younger readers, but Ivanhoe and Rob Roy by Walter Scott were still pretty well known when I was growing up and both had film adaptations.

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6 minutes ago, Wilbur said:

but Dickens is the man when it comes to academia, it seems.  

Well, it was Dickens, and George Eliot, who so influenced other classic writers who came along a little later, such as Tolstoy, not Wilkie Collins. So there's all that context in terms of structure, characterization, the incorporation of the past into the present with an historical viewpoint of the omniscient narrator, when it comes to Eliot, and the injection of the very personal of the author even herself into the first person narration, as with Dickens.  All those sorts of things.

Now, when looking into the genre of detective and mystery fiction, which Collins had so much to do with, when doing a seminar on that, he'll be there -- and so will, for that matter, Dickens.  There are reasons Collins and Dickens were such close and long-time friends!

 

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If you go Project Gutenberg  and do a search for historical novels, lots of names come up, and I have tried some. Some authors, unknown to me, have a huge list of titles as I suppose they were widely read but have now disappeared. I suppose quality is defined by surviving. 

I did try reading Scott but found him dull.

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37 minutes ago, maarsen said:

Project Gutenber

And other sites too.  It's so great to be able to dip in and get a sense of what these lost/forgotten/no longer popular authors' work that way.  If one truly likes it, then we can dig out actual books to read -- I always recommend people to check out a writer like Henryk Sienkowitz that way.  I really enjoy reading his Trilogy and one or two of his other books, but as I tend to read for different things than many, these books aren't going to appeal to everybody.

Books and documents and libraries -- for years that was what the internet was for me, that and email.  It was a happier place then, or so I think -- and so I would, wouldn't I?  :D

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My favourite book about historical fiction is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It's the story of a young girl, Liesel, living in Nazi Germany during World War II. The novel is narrated by Death, which gives it a unique perspective. As for me the story is heartbreaking, but also very uplifting. It's a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is always hope, especially in between study and work in my case))

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On 11/1/2022 at 6:41 PM, Zorral said:

 I always recommend people to check out a writer like Henryk Sienkowitz that way.  I really enjoy reading his Trilogy

Very much this! There are also some very good history books in there- heavy on primary sources and written before most Popular History (romanticism making polemics respectable), everyone getting their stories straight (presentism). 

This one is a jewel, https://archive.org/details/secondpartition00lordgoog/mode/2up, a good diplomatic history of the 2nd Partition of Poland finished just before World War One. Poland is not a particular interest of mine, this has just been a small coincidence.

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1 hour ago, illrede said:

Poland is not a particular interest of mine, this has just been a small coincidence.

I'll bet you enjoy so much those small coincidences that turn up because your mind is always out there, being curious, looking, just in general, not necessarily for something specific -- though that works too, for coincidences.  One of the great delights of living in this age in which too often delight has been erased.  :cheers:

 

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7 hours ago, SeanF said:

Ivanhoe and Robb Roy are good tales, still.  

Returning to the Porter sisters for a moment -- they sold millions of copies of their books internationally.  But this was before copyright.  Jane Porter made not a cent from the 10 million copies of The Scottish Chiefs sold in the US.

Maria Porters Thaddeus of Warsaw and Jane Porter's Scottish Chiefs even became Classic Comics in the 20th C.  Like so much 'classic literature,' particularly here in the US, their popularity didn't wane, but were shunted to the publishing track of 'children's literature.'  As this includes novels like Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, one does wonder sometimes.  But these are adventure tales in so many ways, as are many of Scott's novels -- which are the ones that we still read, generally first when we are kids. (Though probably not even reading kids, now?)  We don't read his novels that feature collisions of various forms of protestantism in Scotland, generally, except for extracting some social/political history pointers.

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1 hour ago, SeanF said:

The Viking war on woke - UnHerd

This, by Dominic Sandrook, amused me.

It is amusing! Back in the day these kids got the same satisfactions from Scottish Chiefs, and / or Treasure Island, and all those classics that got called Boys' Books, but girls loved just as much, as Louisa May Alcott's mouthpieces in much of her own 'children's books' tell us.  Ironically too, Little Women and Little Men were not considered to be children's books or even girl's books or women's books, when they were published. Just as many men bought them and read them avidly on Boston and NYC's street cars on their way to work and home.  They weren't even embarrassed to cry in public there if they hit Beth's death on one of those reading trips!

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1 hour ago, Zorral said:

...We don't read his novels that feature collisions of various forms of Protestantism in Scotland, generally, except for extracting some social/political history pointers.

My guess is that the motivations of the Covenanters, Free Kirk and Presbyterian factions are more alien to Americans under 40 years of age today than most science fiction settings.  

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34 minutes ago, Wilbur said:

My guess is that the motivations of the Covenanters, Free Kirk and Presbyterian factions are more alien to Americans under 40 years of age today than most science fiction settings.  

I guarantee it!

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3 hours ago, illrede said:

Very much this! There are also some very good history books in there- heavy on primary sources and written before most Popular History (romanticism making polemics respectable), everyone getting their stories straight (presentism). 

This one is a jewel, https://archive.org/details/secondpartition00lordgoog/mode/2up, a good diplomatic history of the 2nd Partition of Poland finished just before World War One. Poland is not a particular interest of mine, this has just been a small coincidence.

The Trilogy is on my to-read list.  I've had a number of people recommend it to me.

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2 hours ago, Zorral said:

It is amusing! Back in the day these kids got the same satisfactions from Scottish Chiefs, and / or Treasure Island, and all those classics that got called Boys' Books, but girls loved just as much, as Louisa May Alcott's mouthpieces in much of her own 'children's books' tell us.  Ironically too, Little Women and Little Men were not considered to be children's books or even girl's books or women's books, when they were published. Just as many men bought them and read them avidly on Boston and NYC's street cars on their way to work and home.  They weren't even embarrassed to cry in public there if they hit Beth's death on one of those reading trips!

Back in the day, I imagine tales about the Vikings would focus on their skills as navigators and fighters, with the occasional reference to a bit of pillage.  That was their version of "woke", as opposed to the modern version which focuses on the Vikings' sexual equality and skills as craftsmen.

Slave-taking, head-hunting, and r*pe would not feature heavily in either set of literature for boys and girls. Or at any rate, they would only be practised by evil Vikings, not by the good Vikings.

Overall, I'd say the Vikings have had an incredibly good press, really since historical novels started.  Ask the average person how a Viking lived, and they'd view it as one long stag party.

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2 hours ago, SeanF said:

Overall, I'd say the Vikings have had an incredibly good press

It didn't hurt that here in the US since so many who immigrated here, like my own family, found in them, via Leif Erickson and so on, a home country national connection to the 'discovery of America', a sea road to joining their own backgrounds to the Great Mythology of the Founding of the United States of America.  In my state, books and tales were rife in our schools at all levels -- I grew up on Norse mythology at least as much on Greek and Roman myths, and the legendarium of King Arthur. (The more mythologies the better, my school age self enthused.) The shelves were also stacked with books in translation from Scandinavia.

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