Thursday, August 21, 2008

Gaskell's My Lady Ludlow: Final thoughts

I finished this novella last night and ended up liking it quite a bit. Then, it was interesting to read Uglow's commentary in the Gaskell bio that I am reading simulataneously with the stories and novels.

Uglow chose to quote the passage that made me laugh out loud in which Miss Galindo is telling the narrator about her life and how she nearly became a writer:
"Doctor Burney used to teach me music...and his daughter wrote a book, and they said she was but a very young lady, and nothing but a music-master's daughter; so why should I not try...I got paper and half-a-hundred good pens, a bottle of ink, all ended in my having nothing to say, when I sat down to write. But sometimes when I get a hold of a book, I wonder why I let such a poor reason stop me. It does not others."

This is a definite echo of Austenian humor.

Speaking of Miss Galindo, she is so different in the book than in the Cranford mini-series that all they really took from the book was her name and the fact that she works as a clerk so that the steward (Mr. Carter in the mini-series and Mr. Horner in the book won't have any call to train up Harry Gregson as his clerk). Gaskell's Miss Galindo is truly wonderful and is worth reading the novella just to experience--she's plain-spoken, fading gentry, devoted to Lady Ludlow, but follows her own conscience and heart. There's a bit of Austen's Miss Bates in her, but not as broadly drawn.

Speaking of Austen, near the end, the narrator mentions a letter dated 1811, the year in which Sense & Sensibility was published. Coincidence? Maybe, but Lady Ludlow strikes me as the flip side of Lady Catherine from Austen's Pride & Prejudice.

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