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Mary Barton > November 2017: Mary Barton: Information about Elizabeth Gaskell, Plus Chapters 1-10 (No Spoilers!)

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message 1: by ☯Emily , The First (new) - rated it 4 stars

☯Emily  Ginder | 1209 comments Mod
This thread is to learn about Elizabeth Gaskell, the author of Mary Barton as well as to discuss the first ten chapters of the book. Please be careful that you don't reveal information about the rest of the book in this thread.


message 2: by ☯Emily , The First (new) - rated it 4 stars

☯Emily  Ginder | 1209 comments Mod
Because the English called Elizabeth Gaskell, Mrs. Gaskell, I have always thought of her as a prim, modest, elderly woman full of good works. However, the following biography shows that she was a lively, progressive woman who loved her family and her neighbors and was generous towards all. http://gaskellsociety.co.uk/elizabeth...


message 3: by ☯Emily , The First (new) - rated it 4 stars

☯Emily  Ginder | 1209 comments Mod
A note to my fellow readers: Do not read any introductions that your book may have. Mine has major spoilers! You can read the intro after you read the book. However, you should read the preface to the book, which is right before chapter 1.


message 4: by ☯Emily , The First (new) - rated it 4 stars

☯Emily  Ginder | 1209 comments Mod
The last sentence of the preface refers to recent events on the Continent. Mrs. Gaskell published Mary Barton in 1848, a tumultuous year in Europe. Uprisings occurred all over Europe. Sparknotes gives a good summary of the rebellions and the failure to make lasting changes. http://www.sparknotes.com/history/eur...


message 5: by ☯Emily , The First (new) - rated it 4 stars

☯Emily  Ginder | 1209 comments Mod
If anyone is interested in reading another book with much of the same themes, you can read Hard Times by Charles Dickens, published in 1854, several years after Mary Barton was published. In 2009, I read both books for a class I was taking and it was this experience that convinced me that Elizabeth Gaskell was a much better writer than Charles Dickens. Read it and see if you agree.


Charlene Morris | 1202 comments Mod
I have to finish up my book club book then I can start Mary Barton.


Anastasia Kinderman | 654 comments Mod
I have Mary Barton and would like to participate. I will if I can. I still haven't finished our last book though and I had intended to participate in that discussion.


message 8: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 681 comments Anastasia wrote: "I have Mary Barton and would like to participate. I will if I can. I still haven't finished our last book though and I had intended to participate in that discussion."

Anastasia, if you read Ship of Fools, I look forward to hearing your thoughts whenever.


Anastasia Kinderman | 654 comments Mod
Carol wrote: "Anastasia wrote: "I have Mary Barton and would like to participate. I will if I can. I still haven't finished our last book though and I had intended to participate in that discussion."

Anastasia,..."


I will make an effort to finish it then. :)


Charlene Morris | 1202 comments Mod
I finished up chapter 10 last night.

Wow, there are a lot of deaths in the first 10 chapters. I am not even sure I can remember everyone.

I am torn as to my first impression of Mary. She comes across as vain and spoiled, but genuinely seems to care about others. Perhaps it is time period related, but most of the people I know that are vain and spoiled are self centered.


Charlene Morris | 1202 comments Mod
Did anyone else see similarities between Mary Barton and Helen Huntingdon from The Tenant of Wildfell Hall?


message 12: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 304 comments I've just started, listening to this as an audiobook. The narrator's accent was tough to understand at first.

Thought the beginning was pretty sad. Enjoying the characters.


message 13: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 304 comments What is Witsuntide? Christmas time?


Charlene Morris | 1202 comments Mod
I figured it was a holiday that isn't celebrated anymore sort of like Michealmas.


message 17: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 304 comments Charlene wrote: "Did anyone else see similarities between Mary Barton and Helen Huntingdon from The Tenant of Wildfell Hall?"

Hi Charlene, I read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall years ago. What similarities are you seeing.


Charlene Morris | 1202 comments Mod
Lisa wrote: "Charlene wrote: "Did anyone else see similarities between Mary Barton and Helen Huntingdon from The Tenant of Wildfell Hall?"

Hi Charlene, I read [book:The Tenant of Wildfell Hall|33..."


Besides the fact that both authors are related to clergy. Religious tones are present in both books.

At this point in the book, Mary and Helen are similar as they are both naïve young women who get involved with a man they should have avoided. Both women are pretty and do attract attention. Also both women know they are pretty too.

So I have read to chapter 25 and that may be where the similarities end. Without trying to give too much away, I feel like Helen had the harsher lesson on human nature than Mary did.


message 19: by Anastasia Kinderman, The Only (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anastasia Kinderman | 654 comments Mod
Gaskell knew the Brontes, right?


Charlene Morris | 1202 comments Mod
Anastasia wrote: "Gaskell knew the Brontes, right?"

I am not sure about Emily or Anne, but I thought she knew Charlotte Bronte. She was the first to write a biography on Charlotte.

Since Mary Barton is Gaskell's first book (published in 1848), I would assume she didn't know any of the Brontes yet.

Just to note Anne's Tenant of Wildfell Hall is also published in 1848.


message 21: by ☯Emily , The First (new) - rated it 4 stars

☯Emily  Ginder | 1209 comments Mod
Charlotte met Mrs. Gaskell in 1850, a year after Anne Bronte died.


message 22: by Mizzou (last edited Oct 18, 2017 05:56PM) (new)

Mizzou | 177 comments Lisa, it's "Whitsuntide" is the week beginning with Whitsunday and especially the first three days of this week. Whitmonday is the day after Whitsunday observed as a legal holiday in England, Wales, and Ireland.
Charlene: "Church" and "State" seem to have a symbiotic relationship in England, with certain days in the Anglican church calendar having the status of 'legal' holidays.
Gaskell herself was a Unitarian, and (though I haven't read deeply into the novel yet), I would not be at all surprised to ind "religious tones present."
It was interesting to find Mrs. Gaskell interrupting her narrative to give her opinion, in these early chapters (author's privilege?).
I find this work of 19th century literature not at all difficult to read, and reckon that is so because of all the practice in reading I've done in decades past (I'll be 90 in February next).
P.S. The judicious use of punctuation in the text does help. I still have to use the glossary or footnotes to understand the Britishisms. though.


message 23: by Anastasia Kinderman, The Only (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anastasia Kinderman | 654 comments Mod
So thus far in reading I feel like Mary is more spoiled than Helen. She does have a good heart but she can definitely be inconsiderate.


message 24: by Mizzou (new)

Mizzou | 177 comments This novel seems to be a unique blend of 'fiction' and 'non-fiction', what with a cast of fictional characters and Mrs. Gaskell's reports on the socio-economic conditions that prevailed then and there, in Manchester. . . as if it was being written by a social welfare worker/novelist.


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