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NORTH AND SOUTH: January 2007 Discussion

[ Edited ]
This thread is for our discussion of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South, starting on January 4, 2007. Here's a suggested reading schedule:

Chapters I through XIII: January 4 to 10
Chapters XIV through XXV: January 11 to 17
Chapters XXVI through XXXIX: January 18 to 23
Chapters XL through LII: January 24 to 29
Here's the same schedule for two-volume editions:

Vol. I, Ch. I through Ch. XIII: January 4 to 10
Vol. I, Ch. XIV through Ch. XXV: January 11 to 17
Vol. II, Ch. I through Ch. XIV: January 18 to 23
Vol. II, Ch. XV through Ch. XXVII: January 24 to 29
You can find an electronic version (which you can download and use for searching and copying quotes) here:

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/4276
If anyone still needs to purchase a copy of N&S, here are links to some standard editions at bn.com:

Penguin Classics edition:
http://search.barnesandnoble.com/BookSearch/isbnInquiry.asp?EAN=9780140434248

Oxford World's Classics edition:
http://search.barnesandnoble.com/BookSearch/isbnInquiry.asp?EAN=9780192831941

Norton Critical Edition:
http://search.barnesandnoble.com/BookSearch/isbnInquiry.asp?EAN=9780393979084

Message Edited by pmath on 01-22-200708:59 AM

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Re: NORTH AND SOUTH: Chapter 4 : (Pottible Spoiler) Dissenters

[ Edited ]
I thought I would first try to explain the background to one of the characters becoming a Dissenter (or schismatic) which features in this novel.

The Church of England, a Protestant church, was first established as a breakaway from Roman Catholicism by Henry VIII in the 16thC. British monarchs have since been heads of the CofE and 'Defenders of the Faith'. The rituals of the CofE are considerably simpler and less 'showy' than those of the Catholic churches.

In the 19C there was a falling away of CofE attendance, sometimes put down to the publication of Darwin's Origin of the Species which seemed to question Creation etc. To try to stem this scepticism some prominent church people set up The Oxford Movement (1830s) which was an organisation devoted, amongst other things, to bringing roman catholic type ritual into the CofE.

http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-Oxfordmo.html

Some CofE diocese therefore became 'High Church' and offered these rituals, whereas others, mainly the evangelical wing, remained 'Low church' (these divisions still exist). The area where the Hales lived was apparently one of vigorous dissension to the CofE and it was from the South West of England that John Wesley had begun preaching Methodism in the previous century. The Gaskells themselves were Unitarians, another dissenting organisation. (See the Wikipedia entry on Unitarianism.) Although the book is not clear on what caused Mr Hale to make his momentous decision it is an historical fact that many clergymen were influenced by the Dissenters at this time and had similar doubts. Priests were imprisoned or dismissed ('de-frocked'), there were parish riots and High Church CofE Bishops were attacked. Laws were eventually passed to maintain the simpler rituals of the CofE and the Oxford Movement declined.

In addition to the religious dissent, political dissent in the form of socialism was being expounded at this time and the Dissenters were at the forefront of this movement, which becomes apparent later in the book because the 'North', particularly Manchester (where the Gaskells lived and where EG's husband was a Unitarian Minister), was at the forefront of this breakaway from the conservative (Tory) government which was then hand in glove with the monarch and the CofE. It is, incidentally, from this background that my own Northern (Yorkshire), socialist family are descended because one of the 'dissensions' was atheism and my Methodist great-grandfather gave up his faith in the 1870s and helped Charles Bradlaugh, our first atheist MP, to get into Parliament.

I hope this brief potted history is of help to readers.

Message Edited by Choisya on 01-02-200707:49 AM

Message Edited by Choisya on 01-02-200708:57 PM

Message Edited by Choisya on 01-02-200709:06 PM

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Re: NORTH AND SOUTH: January 2007 Discussion

Thanks pmath. You're a toff!:smileyvery-happy:




pmath wrote:
This thread is for our discussion of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South, starting on January 4, 2007. Here's a suggested reading schedule:

Chapters I through XIII: January 4 to 10
Chapters XIV through XXVI: January 11 to 17
Chapters XXVII through XXXIX: January 18 to 24
Chapters XL through LII: January 25 to 31
You can find an electronic version (which you can download and use for searching and copying quotes) here:

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/4276


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For Choisya: Toff

[ Edited ]
Thanks, Choisya: I had to look up what the word toff means! What did we do before we had access to the Web?


Choisya wrote:
Thanks pmath. You're a toff!:smileyvery-happy:

Message Edited by pmath on 01-03-200702:55 PM

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Chapter IV: Mr. Hale's Doubts

[ Edited ]
Choisya, I was thinking about this, too: I believe Sir Thomas More's family supported his decision eventually, but Mr. Hale doesn't give his family a chance. In addition to driving the plot, understanding Mr. Hale's doubts may be the key to understanding the novel. I wonder why Mr. Hale wouldn't tell his own family, at least, what the problem was. Was EG reluctant to be explicit for some reason?


Choisya wrote:
Although the book is not clear on what caused Mr Hale to make his momentous decision it is an historical fact that many clergymen were influenced by the Dissenters at this time and had similar doubts.

Message Edited by pmath on 01-02-200710:46 AM

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Re: Chapter IV: Mr. Hale's Doubts

[ Edited ]
To be a Dissenter then pmath was like being a Muslim in our societies today - they were linked with terrorism in the popular imagination and many had been sentenced to prison for inflammatory acts. This wasn't long after the French Revolution and the British establishment still feared a similar uprising in Britain. Here is an account of a famous uprising in Birmingham (just south of Manchester) which took place in 1791, only 60 years before N&S was written and within living memory in EG's day.

http://www.bl.uk/learning/histcitizen/21cc/utopia/methods1/priestley1/priestley.html

Mr Hale could have bee de-frocked as a priest - a tremendous humiliation or, worse, he could have been imprisoned for associating with Dissenters. Hence the need for secrecy, as with many members of organisations who are trying to change the established order. As a Unitarian EG did suffer abuse from those around her and was brave to have written as she did about these matters. Here is a very interesting essay by an American Unitarian about EG and her times, which reveals that she was a distant cousin of Charles Darwin!

http://www.uufhc.net/s020707.html

Sir Thomas More, of course, opposed King Henry VIII in his efforts to break away from the Church of Rome and that was high treason in those times. There were many catholics who opposed the establishment of a Church of England but the majority kept quiet about it, rather than suffer imprisonment or worse. Sir Thomas More refused to be silenced and lost his life for it. Mr Hale, in opposing the CofE, was risking the wrath of the establishment in less cruel times but he and his family could still have been ruined had they spoken out.




pmath wrote:
Choisya, I was thinking about this, too: I believe Sir Thomas More's family supported his decision eventually, but Mr. Hale doesn't give his family a chance. In addition to driving the plot, understanding Mr. Hale's doubts may be the key to understanding the novel. I wonder why Mr. Hale wouldn't tell his own family, at least, what the problem was. Was EG reluctant to be explicit for some reason?


Choisya wrote:
Although the book is not clear on what caused Mr Hale to make his momentous decision it is an historical fact that many clergymen were influenced by the Dissenters at this time and had similar doubts.

Message Edited by pmath on 01-02-200710:46 AM



Message Edited by Choisya on 01-02-200712:18 PM

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to be a Dissenter

When I was last in London I made a special effort to go to Bunhill Fields, where many of the Nonconformists or Dissenters were (still are, I guess) buried. They were not allowed into the official cemeteries. Here I found the graves of John Bunyan, Isaac Watts, Susanna Wesley, George Fox, John Gill, John Rippon, William Blake, and Daniel DeFoe, to name a few. As you can tell by the list, there were many reasons for dissenting.
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Re: NORTH AND SOUTH: January 2007 Discussion

Since a reading schedule has been posted, could we please have people respect that schedule and not begin the discussion early?

Already we had the Moby Dick discussion start well ahead of its scheduled time, meaning that readers who had planned to read on the original published schedule either had to forego participating, or had to read hundreds of posts made prior to the original start date before they could begin catching up.

Now it appears that people are "jumping the gun" here, also.

One of the virtues of BNUf was that the books were announced well in advance, but nobody could start to post until the day the discussion officially opened. That has changed here at the Book Clubs, where discussions are open all the time and as soon as a book is mentioned people can begin posting about it even before others have even had a chance to order the book.

I recognize the temptation to jump right in with comments on a book one happens to have read (or happens to have the time to look up comments about on the Internet), but I suggest that this will in the end lead to less productive and less interesting discussions as people are driven away from discussing books which have been discussed out before the reader can even obtain the book.

I suggest, therefore, that people accept that this new format requires that posters must exert more self-discipline than the old BNU format, which imposed its own discipline by not allowing posting ahead of a book's start date.

Folks, let's be responsible posters and observe the reading schedules so that all can have a fair chance at participating.
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Re: NORTH AND SOUTH: Background Information on Helston.

[ Edited ]
Just as Fanuzzir and Ilana had put up background information prior to the beginning of the Moby Dick and Cranford schedules (the Moby Dick date was then 'advanced' by B&N) I am posting some background information for North & South, as promised to Pmath, our Moderator. This time I thought I would tell readers about Helston in Cornwall (as BNU readers will remember I told them about the British countryside in Return of the Native, Jane Eyre and Lady Chatterley's Lover. Only this time I am not going to visit Helston (or Manchester)to take photographs for you, not least because it is midwinter (although Cornwall is actually the warmest part of the UK):smileyhappy::smileyhappy:

The Helston mentioned in N&S is in Hampshire and I have always been puzzled by this because there is no particular history of dissension in Hampshire as there is in Cornwall. I therefore think that EG had Cornwall in mind when she wrote about Helston. Cornwall is one of the most beautiful parts of the UK and is on the 'foot' you see on the UK map sticking out into the Atlantic. It was an ancient kingdom whose people are descended from the French Bretons, of which Danielle (who will be joining us) may tell you more. It prospered on tin mining until the middle of this century but is now largely dependent on its fishing, particularly herring fishing. The Prince of Wales is the Duke of Cornwall and he is the landlord of the majority of the land there. Americans may have seen the expensive organic foodstuffs marketed by the Duchy of Cornwall, which are from his farms there. Notwithstanding this connection with the monarchy it has a fierce history of independence and was a hotbed of dissension, particularly Methodism, from the early 18th century onwards. A sect of Methodism known as The Bible Christian Movement was particularly strong in Cornwall. There are also many references to Cornish places in Wesley's letters and diaries. This history of dissension may be why EG chose Helston as the parish where Mr Hale had a 'living' as a Church of England rector. Here are websites on Helston, including a map, and on the Duchy of Cornwall, both of which have some beautiful photographs of the area:-

http://www.cornwalls.co.uk/Helston/

(I cannot find similar photographs of Hampshire, which has no particular history. It is to the East of Cornwall.)

http://www.duchyofcornwall.org/

Message Edited by Choisya on 01-02-200703:39 PM

Message Edited by Choisya on 01-02-200709:04 PM

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Classic

Yes, and that's why Sir Thomas was canonized, of course!

Thanks for the very informative links. I found this, from the one below, particularly interesting:

Elizabeth Gaskell is considered by critics today to be at the top of the second tier of Victorian British writers, highly regarded but not "classic," below George Eliot and Charles Dickens. Why is this? Her Unitarianism may have inadvertently played a part in consigning her to the second tier. Because Gaskell believed in inherent goodness, there are really no bad characters or villains in her book.

Choisya wrote:
Here is a very interesting essay by an American Unitarian about EG and her times, which reveals that she was a distant cousin of Charles Darwin!

http://www.uufhc.net/s020707.html

... Sir Thomas More refused to be silenced and lost his life for it.
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Re: NORTH AND SOUTH: Background Information on Helston.

I see, then, that you have self-appointed yourself moderator in the role of Fanuzzir and Ilana. Of course, I do see a difference between providing background information and revealing details of the plot, but if you spoil the book for others, I don't suppose that is of any relevance.

I always thought that the English were better at waiting in queues than Americans, but that seems not to be the case here.
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Re: NORTH AND SOUTH: January 2007 Discussion

Hi Pmath and Choisya,
I will not have the time required to join in and contribute actively right now but if you carry onlike this it will serve as a 'guide' even for later attempts.
It's good to try different ways in which this forum could work.

Have fun,
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Re: NORTH AND SOUTH: Background Information on Helston.

It is pmath who is moderating this book and it was pmath who made the original posting about the schedule. She asked for some support and I am giving it to her, that is all.




Everyman wrote:
I see, then, that you have self-appointed yourself moderator in the role of Fanuzzir and Ilana. Of course, I do see a difference between providing background information and revealing details of the plot, but if you spoil the book for others, I don't suppose that is of any relevance.

I always thought that the English were better at waiting in queues than Americans, but that seems not to be the case here.


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Re: Helston Geographical puzzle.

[ Edited ]
Thanks pmath. As I posted in my Helston (or Helstone) piece, it is the Hampshire Helstone which EG writes about but IMO she had Helston (or Helstone) Cornwall in mind because of its history of dissension. I wonder if Ilana can throw more light on this geographical puzzle. Both are in the South although Cornwall is South West. And Cornwall has a much more interesting history - I can find nothing about Dissenters in Hampshire in my various religious history books.



pmath wrote:
Yes, and that's why Sir Thomas was canonized, of course!

Thanks for the very informative links. I found this, from the one below, particularly interesting:

Elizabeth Gaskell is considered by critics today to be at the top of the second tier of Victorian British writers, highly regarded but not "classic," below George Eliot and Charles Dickens. Why is this? Her Unitarianism may have inadvertently played a part in consigning her to the second tier. Because Gaskell believed in inherent goodness, there are really no bad characters or villains in her book.

Choisya wrote:
Here is a very interesting essay by an American Unitarian about EG and her times, which reveals that she was a distant cousin of Charles Darwin!

http://www.uufhc.net/s020707.html

... Sir Thomas More refused to be silenced and lost his life for it.


Message Edited by Choisya on 01-02-200709:08 PM

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Re: NORTH AND SOUTH: Background Information on Helston.

It was you who compared yourself to Fanuzzir and Ilana; that wasn't anything I made up.
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Re: NORTH AND SOUTH: No comparison.

[ Edited ]
Please stop this taunting Everyman/Christopher - I did not and would not compare myself to Fanuzzir or Ilana and was merely saying that I was trying to do as they had done and post some background to the novel in advance of the scheduled start. I also referred to Pmath as Moderator.



Everyman wrote:
It was you who compared yourself to Fanuzzir and Ilana; that wasn't anything I made up.

Message Edited by Choisya on 01-02-200706:37 PM

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Re: NORTH AND SOUTH: No comparison.

No taunting; just setting the record straight.
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Re: Laurel: to be a Dissenter

Laurel: Do your family also come from a Dissenting background? In America or England? More details please:smileyhappy:




Laurel wrote:
When I was last in London I made a special effort to go to Bunhill Fields, where many of the Nonconformists or Dissenters were (still are, I guess) buried. They were not allowed into the official cemeteries. Here I found the graves of John Bunyan, Isaac Watts, Susanna Wesley, George Fox, John Gill, John Rippon, William Blake, and Daniel DeFoe, to name a few. As you can tell by the list, there were many reasons for dissenting.


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Re: Laurel: to be a Dissenter

I don't have a family religion as such, but I have a personal one. I trotted off to the little Baptist church down the street when I was six and since that time have been reading the Bible and attending Baptist and nondenominational churches, depending on where I lived. I've read with great interest about the Wesleyan revivals in England, the Great Awakenings in America, and the Welsh Revival at the turn of the twentieth century, and I've done a lot of reading in church history, including Wesley's and Whitfield's writings. Also David Brainerd, Jonathan Edwards, and David Livingstone and many others. I guess my faith in God is the most important thing about me.



Choisya wrote:
Laurel: Do your family also come from a Dissenting background? In America or England? More details please:smileyhappy:




Laurel wrote:
When I was last in London I made a special effort to go to Bunhill Fields, where many of the Nonconformists or Dissenters were (still are, I guess) buried. They were not allowed into the official cemeteries. Here I found the graves of John Bunyan, Isaac Watts, Susanna Wesley, George Fox, John Gill, John Rippon, William Blake, and Daniel DeFoe, to name a few. As you can tell by the list, there were many reasons for dissenting.





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Re: Helston Geographical puzzle.



Choisya wrote:
Thanks pmath. As I posted in my Helston (or Helstone) piece, it is the Hampshire Helstone which EG writes about but IMO she had Helston (or Helstone) Cornwall in mind because of its history of dissension. I wonder if Ilana can throw more light on this geographical puzzle. Both are in the South although Cornwall is South West. And Cornwall has a much more interesting history - I can find nothing about Dissenters in Hampshire in my various religious history books.




**ignorance spoiler: I'm sorry that I can't offer any more clarity than you already have on Helstone. I'd need to do some research myself, but I'm a backseat driver with the North and South discusssion. You guys are already teaching me. keep it up. and thanks
Ilana



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