Archive for October 28th, 2006

Fatherless Fanny continues, as Lisbon proves a place of many reunions.

Ch. 8: A Wedding.



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Fatherless Fanny continues with a pair of fast-moving chapters which greatly alter the now teenaged Fanny’s circumstances. Lady Ellincourt’s depression and poor health make her move to Lisbon. And though she still loves Fanny like her own child, she doesn’t plan on taking Fanny along….

Chapter 7: The Separation.


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Fatherless Fanny continues, as Lady Ellincourt and her daughter trade letters about poor Lady Ballafyn.

Chapter 6: Correspondence


I should mention at this point that Fatherless Fanny was apparently mentioned by Thackeray in Vanity Fair because he used Anon.’s description of a girl’s school as an inspiration for his own. Frances Hodgson Burnett also mentioned Fatherless Fanny in at least one of her lesser known novels. This was explained when I discovered that she had written an autobiographical article which acknowledged her artistic indebtedness not so much to certain early Gothic novels themselves, as to their plot as retold from memory by her mother. Fatherless Fanny is explicitly mentioned, as is Porter’s The Scottish Chiefs; The Children of the Abbey; The Castle of Otranto; and The Mysteries of Udolpho.

A moment’s thought will show you that this indebtedness is deep and real. Again and again, Burnett takes on Gothic plots as backstory or part of the setup, even though the actual events of the story may be feelgood and gentle. Certainly Fanny’s character and Sara Crewe’s bear some relationship to each other; though West Indian Emily Barlowe and giddy Lord Ellincourt are replaced in A Little Princess by an Indian servant and a gloomy non-lord.

I am sure that somebody somewhere has written a paper about all this. If not, someone should. The influence of one era’s writers can be especially important to writers of generations long after, as a counter or complement to the ideas of their own day.

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Gerusalemme Liberata continues, with a book the History Channel should dramatize. Medieval siegecraft galore! Trenches and breaches! Godfrey vs. Clorinda! Argantes and Solyman’s tag team attack! Rams, arbalests, catapults and other fun siege engines! It’s so coooooool!

Excuse me while I wipe the history buff drool off my chin.

It should be remembered that Tasso also wrote as a history buff. Siegecraft and fortress design changed greatly when gunpowder became widely available (because of explosives and cannon, more than small guns). Tasso was writing several centuries after the First Crusade. Any sieges he’d seen would have been waged with different tactics.

Book 11


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