Thursday, 19 April 2012

Are you a (Brontë) bookworm?

Have you read Jane Eyre? What did you like about it? Perhaps you've just seen the new movie with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender, or one of the BBC adaptations, but it's got you keen to get to the real thing?

This is my favourite cover for the novel - the Penguin Clothbound Edition by Coralie Bickford-Smith. She has also designed beautiful cloth bindings for various other classics - see her portfolio here.

Have you read anything else from the Victorian era? What was your favourite? Let me know!

ReKindle your love for the classics

One of the best things about works of Victorian literature is that their copyright has expired in most countries, including South Africa (where the duration is 50 years). This means you can download the full text of Jane Eyre, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Wuthering Heights and countless others for free from sites like Project Gutenberg. You can download the electronic text, the audio-book version or even the e-book version for Kindle and similar devices. I've found that electronic copies of long texts are also extremely handy for essay writing, for example when you want to find a specific quote or scene in a novel, or all the references to, say, mirrors (or some other thematic element).

While I still believe there's nothing quite like holding a (new) book in your hands, the advantages of gadgets like  Kindle are looking more and more appealing. Imagine walking around with Jane Austen's collected works in your handbag! Read more about Kindle downloads from Project Gutenberg here.

Do you have a Kindle or other e-reader? How are you finding it? Or are you still favouring hard copies?

Girl reading
- George Cochran Lambdin (1830 – 1896) (image from here)

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Facebook in 1836?

Charles Dickenss Networks Public Transport and the Novel

In a new book called Charles Dickens's Networks: Public Transport and the Novel (2012), Jonathan Grossman, associate professor of English at UCLA, suggests that the technological advances in transport and communication during the Victorian era led to the same kind of "social networking" we experience today through Facebook, Twitter and similar websites. He points out that Dickens makes extensive reference to these "networks" in his novels, employing them to create links between socially or geographically unconnected characters - i.e. in the same way we use Facebook, or even dating websites. Read Meg Sullivan's thorough and interesting review of Grossman's book here.