North and South, Chapters 1-26 (Spoiler Thread)

Talk75 Books Challenge for 2011

Join LibraryThing to post.

North and South, Chapters 1-26 (Spoiler Thread)

This topic is currently marked as "dormant"—the last message is more than 90 days old. You can revive it by posting a reply.

Edited: Dec 12, 2011, 6:11pm

Hi Everyone,

This thread is for discussion of the first half of North and South, Chapters 1-26. Keep in mind this is a spoiler thread, so if you haven’t yet completed the first half of the novel, beware!

Other North and South threads:
North and South (Non-Spoiler Thread)
North and South, Chapters 27-52 (Spoiler Thread)

Dec 12, 2011, 9:38am

and here - marking my place :)

Dec 12, 2011, 10:49am

Hi Jenn, I'm looking forward to getting started, too!

Dec 13, 2011, 6:40am

I'll try and join this group read. I read the first chapter last night and liked it, so I'll go on. Had the book on my tbr for ages.

Dec 14, 2011, 5:07pm

Hi....I have read the first page!
Yay! Nothing to spoil yet, so Ill return when I have some news :)

Dec 15, 2011, 4:28am

I read the first 6 chapters now and I am surprised that (so far) I am enjoying the book so much compared to the other 2 Gaskell books I've read.

It must be in the writing, because I can't say I find the characters very likeable. I've got some questions, but maybe they will be answered within the next chapters, so I'll wait till I'm through the first half.

Edited: Dec 15, 2011, 11:07am

Megan and Nathalie, I'm excited to get going on North and South. This weekend!

Dec 17, 2011, 12:07pm

Just into Ch 1 and am chuckling at Gaskell's delightful characterization of Mrs. Shaw, who, having long considered herself the victim of an unhappy marriage, must manufacture some new distraction in widowhood to attract attention and manipulate her desires:

"Now that, the General being gone, she had every good of life, with as few drawbacks as possible, she had been rather perplexed to find an anxiety, if not a sorrow. She had, however, of late settled upon her own health as a source of apprehension; she had a nervous little cough whenever she thought about it and some complaisant doctor ordered her just what she desired - a winter in Italy."

Dec 17, 2011, 2:08pm

My book finally! came today (I kept thinking I would stumble across a copy, either in a library or in a used bkstore, no such luck) and I've also read Ch 1 -- concur with Deern above there that the feel of this is different. I began and read almost half of Cranford a while back.... and just stopped..... and then it sat in my tbr shelf until we moved and now I don't know what I've done with it.
L.-C. You chose the quote that made me chuckle! Of course too, the bite in that it is the recog. that I do a little of that myself..... when something seems like a bit of an indulgence it's hard to resist making it seem like an imperative!

Dec 17, 2011, 2:53pm

I've now read 18 chapters and still find the writing easy to read and fluent. I was surprised to see on wikipedia that originally it has been published as a serial, it doesn't feel like one.

I remember the quoted bit, it also made me smile.

I like that there's clear character development - my sympathies have changed a bit since the beginning, and the chatacters are obviously able to reflect and learn. Maybe that's the reason why some of Margarete's ideas seemed a bit drastic at first - there's room for improvement.

I'm not yet so sure about the whole "critical view on industrialism and capitalism" thing. Will it remain just the background for the character interaction or will it really get serious at some point? I haven't read Hard Times yet, but I expect Dickens to be more detailed in his descriptions of the workers' situation.

One thing I haven't fully understood is the reason for Mr Hale's decision. Did I miss something or was that not fully explained?

Dec 18, 2011, 7:14pm

My goodness - after the quiet start things take quite a turn! Now I get why the novel is called North and South, at any rate. I'm presently at the end of Ch 10 where I ran into a sentence I can't quite get, maybe someone else can - Mr. Thornton and Mr. Hale are chatting and there is some back and forth which ends.."'I dare say my remark came from the professional feeling of there being nothing like leather.' replied Mr. Hale." Does he mean books? It's not an important point at all, just puzzling.

Dec 18, 2011, 7:42pm

#10 Nathalie, Mr Hale's decision is not well explained IMO, at least not in a way I could easily understand. In Chapter 5, I found "The hard reality was that her father had so admitted tempting doubts into his mind as to become a schismatic - an outcast ..." As near as I can gather, schism is a separation or division in the church.

#11 Lucy, I think you're right that he means books - leather bindings is my guess.

Dec 18, 2011, 7:49pm

I've started reading, but am only on chapter 2 so far. This is a re-read for me - but it's a long time since I first read it. A schism is indeed a separation in the church - when people disagree about matters of doctrine or practice to the extent that they feel they can no longer remain in fellowship, and go off and form a new church - or leave the old church and join a different one which has previously separated. I seem to remember the latter is what Mr Hale does, but when I get to the bit about the reasons for moving north, I'll see if I can shed any further light on this.

Dec 18, 2011, 8:03pm

Thanks, Genny! I was thinking of you and wishing for your expertise while typing the post above!

Edited: Dec 19, 2011, 2:21am

#12, 13: Thank you for the explanations. I would really have liked to know what exactly were his doubts, but it looks like we won't get any further details here from the author. In literature or movies you sometimes get the doubting Catholic priest or nun, but I can't remember any examples with Protestants involved.

I wonder what Mr Hale would say about my collection of cheap paperbacks? I've never even touched a leather-bound book in my life....

I'm now in chapter 20 and getting some real action. But it still feels like a romance novel in an industrial setting.

I feel bad about the Irish 'hands' (an expression just as demeaning as 'resource' nowadays) and I'm wondering what will happen to them after the strike. They were desperate enough to come to England certainly for lower wages than the already shamefully low ones the English workers had been earning, and I am sure they will quickly be sent home again.
The book was published shortly after the great famine in Ireland, and Mrs Thornton's remark ("poor starvelings")sounds just arrogant.

Dec 20, 2011, 12:11am

I was confused about Mr. Hale's doubts too and had to resort to my paper copy (I'm listening to this one.) When I consulted the chapter notes, they suggest that although the doubts are never precisely specified, Gaskell herself was a Unitarian and it could be surmised that Mr. Hale's dissent from the Church ran along those lines. (As a Unitarian myself, this made sense to me.) And later in the story there is a humorous reference to all dissenters being confused with Quakers.

Dec 20, 2011, 2:35am

I just read a bit about Unitarism, as I don't know a thing about all those different Protestant groups. And I checked my own community (where I was baptised) on the internet and it seems to be a mixed group of peacefully co-existing reformed Lutherans and Unitarians. Interesting. I always thought I was just 'Protestant'. I remember it as being very open for discussions on anything, though the question if trinity exists has never been explicitly raised at school or during preparation for confirmation. There were no strict doctrines at all. Maybe that's why it is so difficult for me to imagine that a Protestant clergyman can have 'doubts'. But if the Anglican church is so much stricter I can see the problem.

Apart from that, the novel now has become Pride and Prejudice northernized.

Dec 20, 2011, 7:45am

One thing I know from all this Elizabethan era reading I've been up to is that it was a BIG DEAL whether or not you thought Jesus was just a great guy infused with God's spirit or whether he really really really was the Son of God. The former was heresy and lots of folks died. I assume that is still a big part of being any kind of 'Dissenter' ????? It was called the Arian heresy.

It does seem amazing to us now that something like this would so shatter a person's life, doesn't it. I'm a bit further along and the same sort of obfuscation is going on with Mrs. Hale's illness.

The social commentary side of the plot, management vs union is both stilted and poignant, dated and alarmingly contemporary....... Dickens does do it wayyyyyy better! What is admirable is the Gaskell was plunging right in to the emerging conflict that arose from the new economic situation - the emerging class of rich 'Masters' - industrialists and mass producers of various items that a growing population needs. Margaret's experiences feel genuine -- her shock at the boldness of the men and women from the factory, and then an emerging understanding and almost even a liking of it. Also her observance that poor as the workers were they had more 'things' in their houses, they had much higher expectations too and why not? On these smaller details I think Gaskell brings the feeling of the time, bewilderment and excitement at the changing social landscape.

Dec 20, 2011, 9:32am

Also her observance that poor as the workers were they had more 'things' in their houses, they had much higher expectations too and why not?
You're right, this seemed an important observation! And didn't even Thornton say quite early in the story that theoretically every worker had the chance to make a career? In a society where people believe they can get ahead, they are much more likely to spend their money instead of saving it for bad times.

I hope Maragaret will have the opportunity to see that her view on the South and the peasants is quite romanticized. In the beginning I found her arrogance towards 'trade people' way over the top, but now I expect it was done just to leave room for learning.

Dec 20, 2011, 7:07pm

I've caught up a bit more now - I'm up to when Mrs Hale starts to get ill.

Re Mr Hale's reasons for leaving, so far nothing more has been revealed than that he has doubts - it seems that both he and Margaret are reluctant to talk about exactly what these were. He did assure Margaret the doubts were not to do with faith itself, I assume it was rather to do with the nature and authority of the church, ie specifically the Church of England. He mentions that it was when the Bishop was talking of offering him another post he began to be troubled by this. This is because whenever a vicar was placed in a new post ("living") in the Church of England, he would be brought face-to-face with these questions of authority etc: he would have had to swear oaths of allegiance to the Queen and to the Bishop of his diocese, and also swear to follow the '39 Articles of Religion' and only to use those forms of service authorised by the church. So he realised he could not in conscience do this - but if he had a less well-developed conscience he could quite easily have stayed where he was in his parish in the New Forest all his life, keeping his doubts to himself and avoiding having to swear those oaths again. But his conscience won't let him rest easy where he is, although he knows it will cause his wife and daughter pain to be forced to move.

I'm looking out for any reference to whether Mr Hale having left the Church of England is seeking to connect with any other Christian group, whether Unitarians or any other dissenters. No mention so far. At one level the 'leaving the Church' thing is simply a plot device to catapult the Hales into their new situation in the North. But the contrasts between Church and Chapel may be significant as part of the South:North contrast which is also a rural:urban and pre-industrial:industrial contrast. Margaret remains thus far a Churchwoman, unlike her father, and takes for granted the old way of relationships which belong to the life of a parish clergy household: the benevolent paternalism of pre-industrial rural life where it was the duty not only of the vicar but of his wife and daughter to visit and know everyone in the parish and to care as best they could for the sick and help the poor - but without expecting anyone to change their station in life.

In Milton (is that the name of the town?) which is a thinly veiled depiction of Manchester, everything is different, the old values do not hold sway, any more than the Church does (in these industrial cities which grew so fast from originally very small settlements, the Church was not a strong presence, and Dissenting groups like the Unitarians and the Quakers were very much more influential). Lucy, I agree that Gaskell uses Margaret's perspective and experience to convey the shock of this new and fast-changing social situation, so very different from the old world she knew not least because it is fast-changing rather than static, and there are extremes of poverty and suffering but also wealth and opportunities opening up...

Looking up a bit about Gaskell, I discovered that her own father, who was a Unitarian minister, himself resigned from the ministry on conscientious grounds (though before she was born). She was raised by an aunt rather than by her mother, and her one surviving brother joined the merchant navy and was lost at sea. So she clearly drew on some autobiographical elements in writing this.

Dec 20, 2011, 7:20pm

Interesting that Gaskell is drawing on autobiographical elements in writing North and South. I was curious at the opening of the novel why Margaret has spent a good part of the last ten years living with her aunt. Unless I missed it, it wasn't made clear. But I suspect that while this seems odd in our present society, it probably wasn't odd at all in Gaskell's time.

I've just passed the spot where Margaret meets Nicholas and Bessy Higgins and invites herself to their home. Clearly, she is acting as the vicar's daughter here, drawing on her role as it was expected at Helstone - the "benevolent paternalism" Genny writes about above. Higgins' response is much different, of course, than Margaret would be accustomed to; Nicholas is clear that he does not care for visitors, certainly not people dropping in. But Gaskell makes it clear that Milton is instantaneously not so dreary to Margaret because she has found a human interest there.

Edited: Dec 21, 2011, 8:34am

That is so illuminating Genny -- and it makes much more sense than dissension -- AND -- here is some synchronicity, a quote (in the Tomalin/Austen bio, part of a discussion of whether Austen would have read/absorbed/agreed with anything in Wollstonecraft's Vindications) about the Church in relation to the ministers: "the blind submission imposed at college to forms of belief serves as a novitiate to the curate, who must obsequiously respect the opinion of his rector or patron, if he mean to rise in his profession..." Tomalin argues by the by that Austen would have been put off probably by the polemic against the military and priestly professions in Ch1.

Which is to say -- Gaskell could have been thinking of this?

Dec 21, 2011, 12:17pm

Thanks Genny for the comments on Mr. Hales "doubts". I have just read the scene and was very confused and thought I missed something. Not very clever of Gaskell to leave it open like that as it's making too much noise as a mere plot-devise. Thought of Trollopes The Warden but of course that church-conflict is the main plot.

Better get on reading. Feel I'm behind already....

Edited: Dec 21, 2011, 3:20pm

It's not really a matter of "leaving it open". Elizabeth Gaskell spent most of her novel-writing career falling foul of censorship in one form or another, mostly of the "nice women don't write about those things" kind, which is why many of her novels seem a bit unsatisfactory - she was constantly having to compromise to get published. In this case she was compelled to fudge the issue by her editor - Charles Dickens - who thought anything like religious controversy was inappropriate for publication in his magazine Household Words, which is where North And South was serialised. There were real recent events that Gaskell wanted to reference but she wasn't allowed to do it.

There's a good explanation of all this in John Sutherland's book, Who Betrays Elizabeth Bennet?, where one of the essays is entitled, "What are Mr Hale's doubts?"

Dec 21, 2011, 3:37pm

I'm learning a lot here. Great. Still, it seems strange that she didn't invent another reason for the family to move - in stead of leaving the readers in the dark. As it's no biggie plot-vise. Well, maybe it made more sense back then.

And another thing: The Warden was published in the same year as N&S which deals with a lot of church issues and conflicts.....Strange...

Dec 21, 2011, 4:07pm

Readers are in the dark now, but probably at the time they would have been able to read between the lines.

Trollope was firmly on the side of "the establishment", even though he sometimes laughed at it. Gaskell was a Unitarian writing about a man leaving the Anglican church on conscience. There's a lot of distance between those two positions.

And, of course, Trollope was a man, so he automatically had a lot more latitude. And he didn't have to deal with having Dickens as an editor, which - given his attitude to "Mr Popular Sentiment" in The Warden - is probably just as well. :)

Dec 21, 2011, 6:57pm

*Who Betrays...* has gone onto the wishlist!!! It's helpful to know too, that it is a general experience to wonder about Mr. Hale!

Good point -- that the readers knew enough to read betw. the lines.

Dec 22, 2011, 1:10am

Goes on my wishlist, too! Thank you for all the information. The "nice women don't write about those things" probably applies to all the more difficult things in the book, including industrial criticism/ strike/etc. So in the end we are left with a romance.

Edited: Dec 22, 2011, 1:19am

Gaskell suffered from this kind of interference all through her career; Mary Barton started out as a novel called "John Barton" and was meant to be a serious look at the miseries of the industrial poor and the consequences of worker / master conflict. It ends up focusing on its young heroine's romantic woes because, yup, that's what women were "supposed" to write about.

To be fair, though, the central relationship in North And South is better integrated into the novel's themes, which don't recede as Mary Barton's do.

Dec 22, 2011, 10:18am

Mary Barton is the one I couldn't get through, not Cranford, not that it matters, but I've been brooding over that for a week or two.

I also noticed in this rejection scene all the (barely) sublimated sexuality -- and in general a physicality not present in some of the writing of the other 'big names'. None of the rollicking naughtiness of the previous century, this is all offered subtle with rounded forearms, curved lips etc. Verges of course, on melodrama here and there.

I do think Margaret's rejection of Thornton, her repulsion at his interest, as well as previously, Henry's is a bit overdone. She seems such a passionate person. And this insistence that 'she would have done the same' for anyone..... I don't really buy it. But none of that matters, I'm enjoying it, noting these things, that's all.

Edited: Dec 22, 2011, 10:34am

I think I have a defective copy of this book. I'm reading a free e-book copy which I got from Project Gutenberg, as I couldn't find a free one on Kindle. It's full of typos (or mis-scanning errors) - far more so than any other free e-book I've read so far. But worse, I've read up to Chapter 20, and this appears to be about 3/4 through the book. My contents page shows that the book only goes up to 25 - but I see that the second spoiler thread for this group read mentions chapters 27-52, so I seem to be missing half the book! This explains why some people were referring to it as a big read when I thought it was fairly average length.

I will have to have another look on Project Gutenberg and see if there is a Part II which I've missed, or perhaps I should pay a little to have a complete copy that is free from annoying typos too. There is one available from Kindle for only 86 pence, that's not too bad, though thus far I have never paid for any e-book.

Dec 22, 2011, 10:56am

I'm glad you brought this up, Genny -- I bought a 'like new' book on Amazon that is actually, I think, a 'print-on-demand' that has egregious and weird errors -- as if someone cut and pasted things here and there without bothering to read or at least without any understanding of the text -- one can usually sort it out, but as many as three or four lines of text are garbled every thirty pages or so. Also the punctuation is bizarre here and there, again easily a matter of messed up cut and paste. I do at least have all 52 chapters, but I plan to send 'Digireads' a harsh note to do better and to criticize the job they've done on Amazon. I think the problem probably emerged because they are trying to cram as much text as possible onto each page -- the print size is ok but the margins are quite small -- there must have been some issues with the scanning, I don't know, but it's poorly done and it throws the 'veracity' of the edition into doubt.

Dec 22, 2011, 12:30pm

Interesting comments regarding e-texts. I also have the Gutenberg edition, downloaded from iTunes. I have all 52 chapters, but there have been numerous errors. On one occasion, I thought, "This doesn't make sense." Fortunately, I also have a paper Penguin edition on hand from my library. When I looked up the section in question, a full couple of lines was missing - not much wonder it didn't make sense.

Agree with Lucy that Margaret's rejection of Henry and subsequently Thornton is a bit overdone. But I'm thoroughly enjoying the read and the sexual tension (what, bare arms!).

I'm presently reading the chapters where Margaret is educating herself regarding the strike, and I think these are well done. She's just witnessed Boucher pleading with Higgins regarding lost wages - his children are hungry. Of course, the union cannot bend, solidarity and all that. But Bessy makes the point to Margaret that if she could catch the union leaders one-on-one, they would each tell Boucher to go ahead and work in order that his children not go hungry. I'm not detecting bias that union is good, management bad nonsense; I think Gaskell succeeds with the human face of the strike. And I think some of this dialogue applies to labour strife even today, and I always appreciate this connect in classic literature.

Edited: Dec 22, 2011, 12:59pm

Whatever the theological dispute these final words of the following scene are so heart-warming:

- The blessing of God be upon thee, my child!

- And may He restore you to His Church, responded she, out of the fullness of her heart. The next moment she feared lest this answer to his blessing might be irreverent, wrong - might hurt him as coming from his daughter, and she threw her arms round his neck. He held her to him for a minute or two. She heard him murmur to himself: The martyrs and confessors had even more pain to bear. I will not shrink.

Quote from my - perhaps - spoiled and incomplete Kindle free version.....sigh!

Edited: Dec 22, 2011, 5:43pm

I'm fascinated (in a horrified sort of way) how the family relies on Margaret to deal with the most problematical information -- she had to tell her mother when they were leaving the house, she knows ahead of her father how ill her mother really is. She gets sent out in the middle of a strike to get the 'water bed' (whatever the heck that is, by the way....) and I feel there might be more instances I'm forgetting. Oh yes, her mother making her write Frederick. We frown more than a bit on that sort of thing, and I wonder how readers then would have reacted.

I'm moving on now into the next section, next thread. I'm reading it faster than I expected to.

Dec 22, 2011, 6:46pm

Daughters were supposed to perform "services" for their families, but even so, what they demand of Margaret is over the top - particularly when you know that Frederick was always the favourite. But isn't that usually the way?

A water bed was exactly that - it was effectively a tank of water that rubber and then other bedding could be placed over. It was designed for the support of invalids, presumably for comfort but also to prevent pressure ulcers etc. during long-term care.

Dec 22, 2011, 8:20pm

Amazing! And here I was thinking it was a bunch of hippies invented it. Ha ha. So it was clearly a rather elaborate thing -- I know I'm being a bit picky, but it would have involved more than just wafting over to 'get' from the Thorntons.

It is over the top -- it is also striking how Margaret alternates being so bold and so 'proper'.

Dec 22, 2011, 8:23pm

I had to go to the footnotes in my paper copy of North and South earlier today to look up waterbed. When I found out, my reaction was much like yours, Lucy. And just how was Margaret planning to "waft" over to the Thorntons and pick this up?

Dec 22, 2011, 9:12pm

It would have involved her making arrangements via Mrs Thornton for hired men or manservants to deliver and install it until the doctor's directions. Interactions like that are rarely reported in novels of this era, just taken for granted.

Dec 23, 2011, 3:02am

#37 Yes, I thought water beds were an invention of the 1970s too! But the text did not suggest that she was going to fetch the thing, just going to request that it be loaned. If they had a fuller complement of servants in the house I guess they would have sent someone even to do the asking, rather than Margaret having to go - but we know about the lack of a servant, which is handy in this case as the plot requires M to be at the Thorntons.

Very bold she is indeed, both in challenging Thornton to face the crowd and in rushing out herself to try to protect him - and then so very agitated not about what she'd done but about how the women at Thorntons were interpreting what she'd done...

Edited: Dec 23, 2011, 12:19pm

Do you think she would have defended 'just anyone'?

Well, yes, of course, it would be quite a production to get the thing installed, but I just felt Gaskell wrote about it as if it was no different from collecting a fruit basket.....
Here is wikipedia on the history -- it mentions North and South! here

Dec 23, 2011, 2:07pm

I'm not very far in, Chapter 6 or 7, but I found the conversation regarding Mr. Hale's reasons for leaving his profession to be very helpful. It seemed so sudden that she returned home only to be leaving again. I have to say that I did relate to Margaret's feelings about her father switching careers. My Dad was the manager of a propane company for 25 years before he switched jobs and I remember feeling very unsettled. I hadn't realized grown ups could just change their entire persona so late in life. (He was only in his mid 40s at the time, but I was younger and that seemed old, ha ha) Obviously it isn't exactly the same thing as leaving the church, but I could relate to her feelings of uneasiness.

35-36: I'm not quite as far as you guys, but I agree that they rely on their daughter a lot. If I had been Mrs. Hale I would have been furious that my own husband couldn't tell me we were moving within two weeks. But, I suppose it was a different time back then and husbands could do that sort of thing as "heads of the house".

Also, I did not know that about waterbeds. Interesting!

Edited: Dec 23, 2011, 3:29pm

Ch 26, I'm finding the Thornton's fluffy romantic fantasies somewhat unbelievable. His behaviour in this regard belies all we know about him as a man. Surely Gaskell was aware of the dichotomy; perhaps the over-the-top behaviour simply made a better story?

"Was he bewitched by those beautiful eyes, that soft, half-open, sighing mouth which lay so close upon his shoulder only yesterday? He could not even shake off the recollection that she had been there, that her arms had been round him, once - if never again."

Thornton's fluffy romantic notions aside, I am thoroughly enjoying North and South, and the discussion here. At the conclusion of this chapter, I'll be moving on to the next thread.

Dec 23, 2011, 3:44pm

I'm on the same chapter, Nancy. Thornton's romantic feelings do seem to have sprung up rather rapidly. Though the description of his relationship with his mother suggests that in both mother and son, a cool and rather stern demeanor hides strong, mainly unspoken feelings. What seems unfamiliar in his character is seeing strong emotions surfacing and being expressed... I loved the bit about him catching a bus out to the country and wandering about in a daze - very unlike the masterful man in charge of himself and his factory.

Dec 23, 2011, 3:50pm

Thanks, Genny, appreciate your comments. I also chuckled at Thornton riding a bus out to the country and wandering around dazed and besotted.

Dec 23, 2011, 3:55pm

The physicality of Thornton's awareness of Margaret is also unusual, and pretty daring on Gaskell's part given that most novelists at this time politely ignored sexual desire.

Edited: Dec 28, 2011, 12:09am

I'm moving over to the next thread after finishing Chapter 26 tonight. I'm interested to see what happens next, though I've been having a hard time really getting into Margaret's character. As the book progresses she seems to become more beautiful, more hard to please, more prideful...Is it just me or did she start off a little nicer? Or maybe Mr. Thorton is influencing my opinion of her and in that case Gaskell did a good job of writing his character.

Dec 28, 2011, 9:59am

Nicely put, mbellerose - and she does keep changing! I found the second half impossible to put down.

Dec 28, 2011, 11:55am

Margaret's character does change dramatically. I agree, Marie, that in this first half she seems to become more beautiful, more hard to please, more prideful .... And she'll change a LOT more in the second half! I think Thornton's influence on her is substantial, and that Gaskell did a wonderful job of writing both characters.

Dec 29, 2011, 5:56pm

I've been lurking - had computer trouble and finally have my computer back. Enjoyed all the comments on ch 1-25.

The waterbed cracks me up. I suppose she would have had to have it brought by a servant or something. So funny.
It is remarkable how much sexual tension is in this book in comparison to its contemporaries. Dickens seems like the obvious comparison. In terms of social consciousness, maybe similar, but in terms of real portrayal of a relationship between men and women, very different.

Will join in on the next thread after the weekend.

Dec 30, 2011, 7:34pm

I've been lurking too (and mostly shutting my eyes, but now I'm up to chapter 30 so can read all your comments properly! I enjoyed Cranford but like this more because of the mix of a female character with backbone and the historical material about the industrial revolution and the north of England.

I like Margaret most of the time, more as the book goes on. She has a lot to put up with - her parents are both so good at loading her up with difficult tasks. Her mother would drive me mad (until she got really sick) and her Dad is so clueless!

Genny, I think the 86p edition is the one I bought. It comes with a history of England. Lucy, does yours have this? Because mine too has jumbled cut and pastes every few chapters, like this one, right in the middle of Mr Thornton's declaration of love:

"and kissed the hem of her wounded pride fell hot and fast. He waited awhile, longing for garment. She did not speak; she did not move. The tears of her to say something, even a taunt, to which he might reply."

I like Gaskell's commentary on the strike, especially her analysis of the unions instead of it just being a commentary on the factory owners, and laughed at the bit where Higgins gets given what is probably Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations. Higgins' quote that "it went on about capital and labour, and labour and capital, till it fair sent me off to sleep" would've been a good one for my first year economics students when I was teaching!

I've just realised that through my public library membership here I have full access to the Times' database going right back to 1799. I typed in " Dissenters" but wasn't sure what year to choose - I got about 2000 hits. I'm going to see if I can find anything interesting on there later on today.

I have 22 chapters left and want to find out what happens to Frederick. (I can already guess about Margaret and Thornton!)

Dec 30, 2011, 9:03pm

My replacement (cheap but not free) copy has the same jumbled up paragraph you quote above. Rather distracting having to piece together the correct order in the middle of such an episode! No history of England included with mine, though.

Interesting that you can(probably) identify the text given to Higgins. I've never attempted to read any Adam Smith...

What in particular about Dissenters were you hoping to discover?

Dec 30, 2011, 10:21pm

Im very happy to report that (a) ive been reading the book (however slowly), and (b) Ive caught up on this thread (as far as ive read in the book anyway).

Thanks for all the good points in posts 19-30. It does encapsulate what Ive read up to that point, and some of the questions I had in my head have been asked and answered.

I agree with you Nancy when you say how you are horrified at the level of the duties expected of Margaret, her father whimped out in making her tell her mother they were leaving. I couldnt quite imagine that would happen, but who knows!?

Dec 31, 2011, 4:38am

"and kissed the hem of her wounded pride fell hot and fast. He waited awhile, longing for garment. She did not speak; she did not move. The tears of her to say something, even a taunt, to which he might reply."

Oh dear, that is rather a bad copy and paste! I spotted a kindle version of the Oxford World's Classics edition on for £1.89 and ended up reading that version rather than the gutenberg version.

Having said that, I just downloaded the kindle version direct from project gutenberg and it doesn't have that copy and paste error and seems to have the correct version so maybe they've updated it?

"But, for all that—for all his savage words, he could have thrown himself at her feet, and kissed the hem of her garment. She did not speak; she did not move. The tears of wounded pride fell hot and fast. He waited awhile, longing for her to say something, even a taunt, to which he might reply. But she was silent. He took up his hat."

I think the cheap ebook versions available generally just use the gutenberg text and add some kind of introduction to get around the fact that you're not supposed to sell the gutenberg version (not sure if this works legally or not). Unless they're from a publisher I recognise like the Oxford World's Classics edition or a Vintage Classics then I don't think those cheap kindle versions are worth paying for (ebooks need a new phrase to replace 'not worth the paper they're printed on')

Dec 31, 2011, 10:29am

I had a cheap version too, very annoying, but nothing quite as fabulously bad as that!