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Austen, Eliot or Gaskell

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message 1: by Rachel (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:17PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rachel Wagner Just curious how readers would compare 3 amazing classic female authors- Jane Austen, George Eliot, and Elizabeth Gaskell. I feel that Eliot is the strongest but her books are the toughest to read also. Austen is the most romantic and fun. Gaskell's characters are similar but I think they are a little more earthy than the Austen girls. How would you'all rate them?


message 2: by jo (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:22PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

jo hmmm. tough one. eliot, austen, gaskell?


message 3: by Reneli (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:33PM) (new)

Reneli austen first. gaskell second. eliot third.


Virginia Hume In terms of literary value, I would say, Eliot, Gaskell then Austen.

In terms of which ones I like the most, I would say Austen, Gaskell and then Eliot. ;-)




message 5: by Laura (last edited May 10, 2008 02:16PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Laura McDonald I love Eliot, and agree that in terms of literary talent, she is tops. Her books are rather long, though, and it takes until about halfway through to start to understand what exactly she's doing with the story. But once you get that far, I find them hard to put down.

It's funny that I ran across this thread because I just read Wives and Daughters and kept thinking how similar in style Gaskell is to Eliot. Perhaps she was influenced? Or was it the other way around?

Austen is a wonderful writer and gave great insights to social behavior, but she never wrote on such wide-reaching subject matter as Eliot and to a somewhat lesser extent Gaskell. Not to say she was less talented, just perhaps less knowledgeable.


Ruth It's a tough one - Austen, Gaskell and Eliot


Peachy I don't really like much of Eliot's work, I find her rather heavy handed. I prefer the others who address real human issues as well, but are much more accessible; some sweetness with your contemplation.
I do love Silas Marner though, I read it very young and it is still fresh to me now. I have a great deal more difficulty relating to most of her characters. Besides Marner, I only read her when I have to.
Okay, I couldn't complain much about Middlemarch either, but it wasn't something I'd stay up to read.


Frances Rachel wrote: "Just curious how readers would compare 3 amazing classic female authors- Jane Austen, George Eliot, and Elizabeth Gaskell. I feel that Eliot is the strongest but her books are the toughest to read ..."

Yes, I was thinking the same thing. Austen is delightful, but not terribly deep all the time, while Eliot is great, but at times a bit heavy or dry. I think Gaskell is a marvelous blend of both; there's plenty of romance, but also commentary on social and political issues of the day. I love all three.


Robin I personally like Gaskell, for her societal issues she brings up in Wives and Daughters and North and South. Austen for her relationships within the differing classes. Haven't read Eliot's Middlemarch book yet, it is such a huge tome.


Boosmummy Austen has to be my favourite, then Gaskell and Eliot. I read Wives & Daughters by Gaskell in January's book club and found some of the characters reminded me of characters in Austen books. I enjoyed it though and it gave some good reminders of social issues that were around then.


Abigail That's tough. I'd say Austen and Gaskell are toe to toe for me and then Eliot. But they are all fantastic writers.


Sallyavena I like them all for different reasons. Eliot's tops when it comes to the literary aspect. Austen is just fun and light with the ever great romances. Gaskell is great at adding the political and social issues of their day, with a little romance thrown in. I think they were all pretty much contemporaries of each other, but each woman was affected by her situation and own personal experiences.


message 13: by Ana (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ana How can you compare? They are all very different. I do think in absolute terms Austen and Eliot are in the same 'level' with Gaskell somewhat on a lower tier (although not by much) Why? I think Eliot's writing has an amazing depth and breadth that is unrivaled. She boldly tackles 'big themes' with amazing intellectual insight. However, Austen's wit, style, and humor can't be surpassed. She was also more influential in my opinion on the generation of writers after her. I don't think you can say either Eliot or Austen is better...it's like comparing Cervantes and Shakespeare. Gaskell on the other hand has not survived the test of time quite as well but I absolutely adore North and South and return to it oftec. And Cranford is a gem. I just think she didn't tap into the 'universal' quite like Austen and Eliot. Her writing is more grounded to her time and social context. I also feel like W&D and N&S..as much as I love these books they could have been 'tighter'


Sheila Quinn Love the three writers equally, though have to say Austen is the only one I regularly reread, particularly Pesuasion. Eliot, however, is the greater and more universal of writers and possibly the one who moves me most on an emotional level: just the memory of reading The Mill on the Floss and Silas Marner as a teenager is enough to make me well up! Of Gaskell's work, Cranford is of course, a gem as Ana already mentions, but her biography of Charlotte Brontë is really interesting, given that they knew each other in life.


Nathalia Since Austen lived before them and was the first female writer to write anything other than silly romances, I think it's unfair to pitch her against women who were only able to write the way they way did because she made it possible.
That being said, I do love all three of them. Eliots novels are a little slower and more eternal, with the moments of wisdom in them. Gaskells are more of an historical account, with the better love stories.

By the way, those who have never read Eliot because Middlemarch is a big book, start with "Adam Bede". It's easier to get into and still has all the brilliance.


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