I’d Pick Elizabeth Gaskell

Today, Audible.com asked the question, “If you could read only one author’s work for the rest of your life, who would it be?”  They also said that it could “easily be the toughest question of the day.”

Probably, if one had many authors to choose from – Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens all the way to the contemporaries like Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Diana Gabaldon, and so many more.  However, it didn’t take me long to pick one author I wouldn’t mind reading for the rest of my life.

Elizabeth Gaskell.

In November 1865, when reporting her death, The Athenaeum rated Gaskell as “if not the most popular, with small question, the most powerful and finished female novelist of an epoch singularly rich in female novelists.” Today Gaskell is generally considered a lesser figure in English letters remembered chiefly for her minor classics “Cranford” and “Wives and Daughters: An Every-day Story.”

Gaskell’s early fame as a social novelist began with the 1848 publication of “Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life,” in which she pricked the conscience of industrial England through her depiction and analysis of the working classes. Many critics were hostile to the novel because of its open sympathy for the workers in their relations with the masters, but the high quality of writing and characterization were undeniable, and critics have compared “Mary Barton” to the work of Friedrich Engels and other contemporaries in terms of its accuracy in social observation.

The later publication of “North and South,” also dealing with the relationship of workers and masters, strengthened Gaskell’s status as a leader in social fiction.

via Elizabeth Gaskell: Biography.

I bought the complete works of Gaskell for my e-reader and I’m taking my time reading her stories, beginning with the obscure ones.  I’ve already read North and South, but I can’t wait to read Mary Barton, as well as Cranford.  I loved how astute she was about the social changes around her, the plight of the poor workers, even if it put her at odds with the general thinking of the time.

So, yes, for the rest of my life, Elizabeth Gaskell would be perfect.

Who would you pick?

 

 

Share Your World – Week 20

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It’s time to share my world again!  My full month of vacation of teaching is winding down and I’m feeling a bit sad about that – but at the same time, it’s nice to get to teach topics I actually enjoy teaching.   I was actually hoping to finish a novel that I started writing, but I guess it was too ambitious of me to think I could finish it in a month.  But I have 5 days more to go, so you never know!

So anyway, here we go!

If you could go back and visit any time period, what time would you travel to and why?

I’d like to travel back to the time of the industrial revolution, to see how northern England changed to become this hub of mills and other manufacturing towns.  It has to do with my reading of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South as well as her other books set in that time period, where her husband ministered to the working masses and she got to see first-hand the effects of industrialization upon the people.  I wrote about Gaskell on my everything-else blog here.

If you could have three wishes granted for you alone, what would they be?  This is a time for you to dream and have fun.

This must be a trick question – don’t mind the seriousness of the first wish though.  Or better yet, just skip to the third question.

But let’s see, if I had three wishes granted for me alone – here they are:

I wish to have been born among the race of colonizers (Spain, which colonized the Philippines and Mexico; England, which colonized India, etc.) – just so I could see how it feels to be one of that skin color.

I wish for a world where people were kinder, countries were more mindful and no one was better than the other.

I wish I were a better mother.

Wanting something to quench your thirst, what would you drink?

Just water, thank you very much.  I fear a world where water will be difficult to come by.  In fact, for my birthday in a few days (which Mr. M will forget for the 7th year in a row), my wish is to raise money for charity:water.  I had set up the giving page last month and unfortunately forgot to link it to anything on this blog (bad bad me!).

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So since this question came at just the right time (and reminded me of the page I had set up!), if you’ve got a few pennies to help provide safe drinking water in countries like Mozambique, Haiti, Malawi, Bangladesh and Cambodia (to name just a few), here’s the link to learn more about charity:water and how you can help.

If you watch TV what are your favorite three television shows?

HANNIBAL.  I am crazy for this show.  I am mad for Mads Mikkelsen and the writing is impeccable, so complicated at times and I like the horror aspect of it.  When this show comes, I shoo everyone out of the living room and watch it with hands covering my eyes.   I love how they have a food stylist who fashions all these interesting human-looking meals that actually look so good and blogs about it here.  Tonight is the season finale, too, so I suspect I will be suffering from withdrawals.

Hannibal - Season 2

GAME OF THRONES – I have a confession.  I’ve only watched this in bits here and there from the beginning but I am not offended by spoilers, so I got caught up really quickly in time for season 4 – which unfortunately has its finale next week.  I love George R.R. Martin’s writing and it’s interesting to see how his work is adapted for TV.  I am strangely attracted to Lord Oberyn Martell and love the scheming Petyr Baelish (may you never turn your back on this man if you value your life) and of course, Peter Dinklage’s Tryrion Lannister.

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PUSHING DAISIES – Sorry, this is an oldie for me.  It’s no longer on the air but I have fond memories of Ned, the piemaker, Chuck, his once-dead-now-alive childhood crush, Emerson Cod, the private eye who knits when he’s stressed (he knits gun cosies), and Olive Snook, next-door-neighbor and waitress at the Pie Hole.  It’s also narrated by Jim Dale, US narrator for the Harry Potter series.  If you’ve never seen this show, watch it – even though it will never come back again, like another favorite show that I LOVED – HBO’s Carnivale *sob*

Share  Your World

 

Northbound Train

I’ve recently discovered a gem of a period drama called “North and South” on BBC while browsing through fan videos on Youtube featuring, well, period dramas.  It’s a guilty pleasure of mine to see clips of movies I’ve yet to see like “Becoming Jane” and “Wives and Daughters” or even movies that I have seen, like “Pride and Prejudice” with Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen.

It was actually during this time a few years ago that I first discovered fan videos of Matthew that led me to other pieces of his work like “Spooks/MI5” and “Little Dorrit”.

And so about two months ago, I found myself looking for the dance scene from “Becoming Jane” where a sad-looking Anne Hathaway dances with some sad-looking bloke, and then her face lights up when James McAvoy dances right next to her (honestly, if James McAvoy started dancing next to me, and then with me, my face would light up, too – hubby be damned).

Then I clicked on a ‘related video’ entitled “North and South train ending” and was so riveted by the exchange between a magnificent man named John Thornton and a beautiful woman named Margaret Hale that their kiss at the end totally took my breath away. Really.

That same evening, I watched all four hours of the BBC drama on Youtube, even though North & South was actually on my Netflix queue already, and lucky for me, I got to see the unedited US version, which I much prefer anyway.

The next evening, I told hubby all about it and he proceeded to watch it on Youtube (on the big screen this time as we have Youtube streaming on our Blu-ray player) till about one in the morning.  The next morning, he told me that he had gotten only to the part of the train scene when they kissed and he couldn’t find the rest of it.

“I didn’t get to see them going back to the mill and all that,” he said.  I had the unfortunate job of informing him that what he had seen was actually the end of the mini-series, and after hearing that, he was quite disappointed, poor chap.

But I was quite happy he liked it.  He’s a union type of man and loved the parts of the cotton gin and the mill and how it showed real people with real jobs and real problems.

Anyway, I digress.  What I’m trying to say is that my return to writing again has been prompted by this character named John Thornton, and while I am not tackling any sequels to Elizabeth Gaskell’s “North and South” (which, by the way, is a wonderful book!), it’s the characterization of the actor, Richard Armitage, that’s to blame for my return to my pen, or in this case, to my keyboard, to write out the stories that have been populating inside my head for years.

And for that, Mr. Armitage, I am eternally grateful.  Writing, after all, has kept me out of trouble since high school (after that unfortunate incident with the floating papers that made its way into the hands of a single, ultra religious and conservative teacher that led to me being taken to the guidance counselor and to the principal, who proceeded to remove me from drama club and personally dropped me off at the writers club, thank you very much!) and at present as well.

I’ve probably seen this mini-series about three times now to fully understand the story and even though I’ve read the book as well (the comic strip incorporates Gaskell’s words with the final caption) I still cry when I see this ending.  When she takes his hand, her index finger slipping around his and then she brings his hand to her lips, yes, I cry every fricking time it’s ridiculous.