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LizzieAnn
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North & South - Ch 1-4

I'm enjoying North & South; I find it gets better as I get deeper into the story.

Margaret Hale seems to suffer in comparison to her cousin Edith, yet is herself a lovely young woman. Her time living with her aunt and cousin seems to have passed pleasantly, yet at the same time she’s anxious to return to her beloved Helstone. There is some mystery about her older brother, Frederick, that seems to be very serious.

Margaret herself seems to be a naïve & modest young woman who does not realize Henry Lennox’s attraction to her. She also seems to be somewhat supercilious, finding contempt with and becoming annoyed with Henry after he tried speaking with her after his disappointment in her refusal. She’s also something of a snob and somewhat rigid for one so young. “She felt a tinge of contempt mingle itself with her pain at having refused him. Her beautiful lip curled in slight disdain.” [p. 32]

Mr. Hale seems soft, ineffectual, self-absorbed, weak, and a coward. He’s made the decision to leave his church, living, and his whole way of wife without even discussing it with his wife, which isn’t so unusual for the time. But, his informing his daughter before his wife and leaving the disclosure to her mother up to Margaret isn’t only cowardly but despicable.

Mrs. Hale can be seen as discontented with both her way of life and her current home. Her maid Dixon feels that Mrs. Hale married beneath her.

Quite a bit happened is these few chapters - but I'm already getting a clear picture of the characters and the difficulties ahead.
Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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Choisya
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Re: North & South - Ch 1-4

[ Edited ]
I find Mr Hale too gentle for his own good or the good of those around him. There would have been a good reason for him to 'keep it under his hat' Lizzie-Ann given that he could have been 'de-frocked' or even prosecuted for dissension had it leaked out (see my earlier posts). His wife is a very neurotic person and I think he thought his daughter could handle the telling of bad news better than he. Women's emotions were not handled very well by men of this period and they tended to stand aloof from them and treat them as 'hysterical':smileysad:



LizzieAnn wrote:Mr. Hale seems soft, ineffectual, self-absorbed, weak, and a coward. He’s made the decision to leave his church, living, and his whole way of wife without even discussing it with his wife, which isn’t so unusual for the time. But, his informing his daughter before his wife and leaving the disclosure to her mother up to Margaret isn’t only cowardly but despicable.

Mrs. Hale can be seen as discontented with both her way of life and her current home.

Message Edited by Choisya on 01-04-200712:26 PM

Message Edited by Choisya on 01-04-200712:27 PM

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LizzieAnn
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Re: North & South - Ch 1-4

But Mr. Hale had already informed his bishop, so his decision had been made. It would have been more in keeping with the role of husband/father to just have told his wife & daughter together (or perhaps have his wife tell his daughter, not vice-versa) what was going on and the action that they were taking. He should have been stronger and done the dirty work himself. To me, he comes across as weak and cowardly - not the head of his family. In all I've previously read and have learned, this isn't how a man would usually behave. In fact, he would be accused of "hiding behind a woman's skirts."



Choisya wrote:
I find Mr Hale too gentle for his own good or the good of those around him. There would have been a good reason for him to 'keep it under his hat' Lizzie-Ann given that he could have been 'de-frocked' or even prosecuted for dissension had it leaked out (see my earlier posts). His wife is a very neurotic person and I think he thought his daughter could handle the telling of bad news better than he. Women's emotions were not handled very well by men of this period and they tended to stand aloof from them and treat them as 'hysterical':smileysad:



LizzieAnn wrote:Mr. Hale seems soft, ineffectual, self-absorbed, weak, and a coward. He’s made the decision to leave his church, living, and his whole way of wife without even discussing it with his wife, which isn’t so unusual for the time. But, his informing his daughter before his wife and leaving the disclosure to her mother up to Margaret isn’t only cowardly but despicable.

Mrs. Hale can be seen as discontented with both her way of life and her current home.

Message Edited by Choisya on 01-04-200712:26 PM

Message Edited by Choisya on 01-04-200712:27 PM




Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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chadadanielleKR
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Re: North & South - Ch 1-4



LizzieAnn wrote:
But Mr. Hale had already informed his bishop, so his decision had been made. It would have been more in keeping with the role of husband/father to just have told his wife & daughter together (or perhaps have his wife tell his daughter, not vice-versa) what was going on and the action that they were taking. He should have been stronger and done the dirty work himself. To me, he comes across as weak and cowardly - not the head of his family. In all I've previously read and have learned, this isn't how a man would usually behave. In fact, he would be accused of "hiding behind a woman's skirts."



As you said: "this isn't how a man usually behave", but if you just remember how male characters are described in Cranford, you would notice that E. Gaskell doesn't mind creating male characters who don't stick to the traditional stereotypes. Some may be unobstrusive, thoughful and pensive. Moreover, in the "real world", there are many like that, aren't they?
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LizzieAnn
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Re: North & South - Ch 1-4

[ Edited ]
Well, North & South is really the first Gaskell novel I've reading. I started Cranford, but never got beyond the first chapter.

As you say, real people are not all the same. I don't mind any character not being a traditional stereotype; I was just explaining as to why I found him weak. Also why I thought he was a coward by having his daughter deliver upsetting news to his wife, especially since it was his solitary decision that was causing the bad news. Mr. Hale didn't fit the norm of what was expected behavior of a man at that time - that's what I mean by "usually behave." As husband & head of his household, he should have been the one to tell his wife; it shouldn't be the daughter who has to tell the mother what her father wants to do.


chadadanielleKR wrote:


As you said: "this isn't how a man usually behave", but if you just remember how male characters are described in Cranford, you would notice that E. Gaskell doesn't mind creating male characters who don't stick to the traditional stereotypes. Some may be unobstrusive, thoughful and pensive. Moreover, in the "real world", there are many like that, aren't they?


Message Edited by LizzieAnn on 01-04-200705:44 PM

Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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chadadanielleKR
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Re: North & South - Ch 1-4


LizzieAnn wrote:
Well, North & South is really the first Gaskell novel I've reading. I started Cranford, but never got beyond the first chapter.

As you say, real people are not all the same. I don't mind any character not being a traditional stereotype; I was just explaining as to why I found him weak. Also why I thought he was a coward by having his daughter deliver upsetting news to his wife, especially since it was his solitary decision that was causing the bad news. Mr. Hale didn't fit the norm of what was expected behavior of a man at that time - that's what I mean by "usually behave." As husband & head of his household, he should have been the one to tell his wife; it shouldn't be the daughter who has to tell the mother what her father wants to do.



Yes, I agree, he is probably a weak character, but also so "human". It is certainly one of the talent of the author to create characters who don't conform to their gender for instance, who's full personality will be unveiled chapter after chapter.
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chadadanielleKR
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Re: North & South - Ch 1-4

Yes, I agree, he is probably a weak character, but also so "human". It is certainly one of the talent of the author to create characters who don't conform to their gender for instance, who's full personality will be unveiled chapter after chapter.


What I meant (I thought it over a second time!) is that the word "weak" is too simplistic (restrictive). He is certainly weak as a family man of his days but he is strong towards himself. He could have carried on with his quite and comfortable life in a dreamlike countryside and never questioned his conscience. He is frightened by an unknown future but he just can't pretend anymore that he believes in the principles that his church upholds. This certainly is very brave. As Choisya has mentioned it in a previous post, he could have got himself in big troubles, had his new state of mind being know publicly.
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LizzieAnn
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Re: North & South - Ch 1-4

True, looking at it from that respect, it does take great strength to do what he did. Then again, that's whay makes it so difficult to understand. He's strong enough to make such a life-altering decision, yet afraid to tell his wife. And even worse, delegates that duty to his child, albeit that she's an adult. That's where I think he's weak. To spare himself, he puts his daughter in the way of doing what he himself should do.



chadadanielleKR wrote:
Yes, I agree, he is probably a weak character, but also so "human". It is certainly one of the talent of the author to create characters who don't conform to their gender for instance, who's full personality will be unveiled chapter after chapter.


What I meant (I thought it over a second time!) is that the word "weak" is too simplistic (restrictive). He is certainly weak as a family man of his days but he is strong towards himself. He could have carried on with his quite and comfortable life in a dreamlike countryside and never questioned his conscience. He is frightened by an unknown future but he just can't pretend anymore that he believes in the principles that his church upholds. This certainly is very brave. As Choisya has mentioned it in a previous post, he could have got himself in big troubles, had his new state of mind being know publicly.


Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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Choisya
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Re: North & South - Ch 1-4

Do you not think that perhaps Margaret was the better person to tell her neurotic mother what was happening and that he knew that? Woman to Woman etc. Or that Mr Hale had gone through a great deal himself because of his crisis of conscience and could not face further remonstrations from her? She comes across as a very nagging woman and most men avoid nagging if they can - he obviously hadn't got a pub to go to.:smileyhappy: She would have been an impossible person to share his burden with I think. Proof of how ineffectual the mother was also comes when Margaret has to oversee all the arrangements for moving and I suppose that Mr Hale knew this would be the case.

Perhaps we are looking at it with a 20thC eye when husbands and wives confess all to each other but I don't think this was the case in Victorian households when men were responsible for all the decisions except the domestic ones and when married couples often had rather 'aloof' relationships.




LizzieAnn wrote:
True, looking at it from that respect, it does take great strength to do what he did. Then again, that's why makes it so difficult to understand. He's strong enough to make such a life-altering decision, yet afraid to tell his wife. And even worse, delegates that duty to his child, albeit that she's an adult. That's where I think he's weak. To spare himself, he puts his daughter in the way of doing what he himself should do.
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LizzieAnn
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Re: North & South - Ch 1-4

But I've also thought as Victorian times in rather autocratic terms - her husband made the decision for himself and his family. It was obviously a difficult decision too. Yet, he shirked the responsiblity of telling his wife and instead burdened his daughter - having to do what he didn't want to do. I don't think it's 20th century eyes. It just doesn't fit what I've always read about the role of men in the households of that time.

Yes, perhaps they thought women were the "weaker" sex, and probably didn't get involved with a lot of things that men do today. Yet they strongly felt their position as head of the household. Telling his daughter & leaving to her the responsiblity of telling her mother was cowardly. He knew she wasn't going to react well to it and didn't want to have to deal with it. In fact, he left the house for the entire day instead of being there to talk to her. He hoped that by the time he came home, the edge would have been taken off of her reaction.

Also, the implication was that they were a couple who loved each other (whether or not they truly understood each other is a different point). Yet, he couldn't give her the respect due to her as his wife. He wanted to avoid the unpleasantness as much as possible...so far as to subject his daughter to the first blast of his wife's reactions.



Choisya wrote:
Do you not think that perhaps Margaret was the better person to tell her neurotic mother what was happening and that he knew that? Woman to Woman etc. Or that Mr Hale had gone through a great deal himself because of his crisis of conscience and could not face further remonstrations from her? She comes across as a very nagging woman and most men avoid nagging if they can - he obviously hadn't got a pub to go to.:smileyhappy: She would have been an impossible person to share his burden with I think. Proof of how ineffectual the mother was also comes when Margaret has to oversee all the arrangements for moving and I suppose that Mr Hale knew this would be the case.

Perhaps we are looking at it with a 20thC eye when husbands and wives confess all to each other but I don't think this was the case in Victorian households when men were responsible for all the decisions except the domestic ones and when married couples often had rather 'aloof' relationships.
Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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Choisya
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Re: North & South - Ch 1-4

[ Edited ]
I had not seen Mr Hale as weak but as greatly troubled Lizzie-Ann but your posts have made me wonder whether EG is deliberately setting him up as a weak man and taking a 'feminist' approach in N&S? I was thinking about the 'Amazonian' spinsters in Cranford and the way they, for the most part, spurned the attentions of men. Perhaps his weakness now will be set off against the strength of women later in the book?




LizzieAnn wrote:
But I've also thought as Victorian times in rather autocratic terms - her husband made the decision for himself and his family. It was obviously a difficult decision too. Yet, he shirked the responsiblity of telling his wife and instead burdened his daughter - having to do what he didn't want to do. I don't think it's 20th century eyes. It just doesn't fit what I've always read about the role of men in the households of that time.

Yes, perhaps they thought women were the "weaker" sex, and probably didn't get involved with a lot of things that men do today. Yet they strongly felt their position as head of the household. Telling his daughter & leaving to her the responsiblity of telling her mother was cowardly. He knew she wasn't going to react well to it and didn't want to have to deal with it. In fact, he left the house for the entire day instead of being there to talk to her. He hoped that by the time he came home, the edge would have been taken off of her reaction.

Also, the implication was that they were a couple who loved each other (whether or not they truly understood each other is a different point). Yet, he couldn't give her the respect due to her as his wife. He wanted to avoid the unpleasantness as much as possible...so far as to subject his daughter to the first blast of his wife's reactions.



Choisya wrote:
Do you not think that perhaps Margaret was the better person to tell her neurotic mother what was happening and that he knew that? Woman to Woman etc. Or that Mr Hale had gone through a great deal himself because of his crisis of conscience and could not face further remonstrations from her? She comes across as a very nagging woman and most men avoid nagging if they can - he obviously hadn't got a pub to go to.:smileyhappy: She would have been an impossible person to share his burden with I think. Proof of how ineffectual the mother was also comes when Margaret has to oversee all the arrangements for moving and I suppose that Mr Hale knew this would be the case.

Perhaps we are looking at it with a 20thC eye when husbands and wives confess all to each other but I don't think this was the case in Victorian households when men were responsible for all the decisions except the domestic ones and when married couples often had rather 'aloof' relationships.


Message Edited by Choisya on 01-07-200708:36 AM

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LizzieAnn
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Re: North & South - Ch 1-4

Never having read Cranford, I can't compare with that. It's just that he doesn't fit the idea of a husband/father/head-of-household that I've acquired over the years of reading both fiction & non-fiction. I agree he's troubled. He had a difficult decision and made it, but I still see him as weak. He wants to avoid some of the consequences of that decision - most notably telling his wife. It's possible that his weakness will contrast with the strength of women and other men in the novel.



Choisya wrote:
I had not seen Mr Hale as weak but as greatly troubled Lizzie-Ann but your posts have made me wonder whether EG is deliberately setting him up as a weak man and taking a 'feminist' approach in N&S? I was thinking about the 'Amazonian' spinsters in Cranford and the way they, for the most part, spurned the attentions of men. Perhaps his weakness now will be set off against the strength of women later in the book?
Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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Choisya
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Re: North & South - Ch 1-4

Thanks Lizzie-Ann. Perhaps Laurel has an opinion on this as she was reading Cranford. I am going to concentrate on other book discussions here for the moment.




LizzieAnn wrote:
Never having read Cranford, I can't compare with that. It's just that he doesn't fit the idea of a husband/father/head-of-household that I've acquired over the years of reading both fiction & non-fiction. I agree he's troubled. He had a difficult decision and made it, but I still see him as weak. He wants to avoid some of the consequences of that decision - most notably telling his wife. It's possible that his weakness will contrast with the strength of women and other men in the novel.



Choisya wrote:
I had not seen Mr Hale as weak but as greatly troubled Lizzie-Ann but your posts have made me wonder whether EG is deliberately setting him up as a weak man and taking a 'feminist' approach in N&S? I was thinking about the 'Amazonian' spinsters in Cranford and the way they, for the most part, spurned the attentions of men. Perhaps his weakness now will be set off against the strength of women later in the book?



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chadadanielleKR
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Re: North & South - Ch 1-4


Choisya wrote:
I had not seen Mr Hale as weak but as greatly troubled Lizzie-Ann but your posts have made me wonder whether EG is deliberately setting him up as a weak man and taking a 'feminist' approach in N&S? I was thinking about the 'Amazonian' spinsters in Cranford and the way they, for the most part, spurned the attentions of men. Perhaps his weakness now will be set off against the strength of women later in the book?


I definitely think that EG means to take an unconventional approach in regard to men/women relationships and to their behavior either in private or in public setting. A clue to this aspect of the novel is suggested with the narration of Margaret's refusal to Mr Lennox's proposition (chap.3). Her irrevocable refusal could come as a surprise considering the fact that her family is not wealthy and that she would probably not have many opportunities anymore to meet anyone from a similar social status in the countryside. Right from the outset, Margaret appears to have more character than anyone in the novel, will it remain this way?...
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Choisya
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Re: North & South - Ch 1-4 (SPOILER)

That's a good observation Danielle - it would certainly be unusual for a Victorian young woman to pass up such an opportunity and perhaps shows an early sign of rebellion a la Jane Eyre - EG greatly admired Charlott Bronte. (BTW I love your icon - it ought to be with us in Moby Dick!)

(Having oft been chided here for seeing rebellion in Victorian heroines I looked it up in relation to N&S after typing the above.:smileyhappy: I found this Editorial review on a B&N English competitor's website (SPOILER):-

'North and South is a novel about rebellion. Moving from the industrial riots of discontented millworkers through to the unsought passions of a middle-class woman, and from religious crises of conscience to the ethics of naval mutiny, it poses fundamental questions about the nature of social authority and obedience. Through the story of Margaret Hale, the middle-class southerner who moves to the northern industrial town of Milton, Gaskell skilfully explores issues of class and gender in the conflict between Margaret's ready sympathy with the workers and her growing attraction to the charismatic mill owner, John Thornton. This new revised and expanded edition sets the novel in the context of Victorian social and medical debate.' )




chadadanielleKR wrote:

Choisya wrote:
I had not seen Mr Hale as weak but as greatly troubled Lizzie-Ann but your posts have made me wonder whether EG is deliberately setting him up as a weak man and taking a 'feminist' approach in N&S? I was thinking about the 'Amazonian' spinsters in Cranford and the way they, for the most part, spurned the attentions of men. Perhaps his weakness now will be set off against the strength of women later in the book?


I definitely think that EG means to take an unconventional approach in regard to men/women relationships and to their behavior either in private or in public setting. A clue to this aspect of the novel is suggested with the narration of Margaret's refusal to Mr Lennox's proposition (chap.3). Her irrevocable refusal could come as a surprise considering the fact that her family is not wealthy and that she would probably not have many opportunities anymore to meet anyone from a similar social status in the countryside. Right from the outset, Margaret appears to have more character than anyone in the novel, will it remain this way?...



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Choisya
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Re: North & South - Chapter 7 : Towards Milton(Possible Spoiler)

In Chapter 7 we are introduced to Milton through Margaret's country-bred eyes - everything looked more 'purposelike', the country carts 'had more iron, and less
wood and leather about the horse-gear'; 'the people in the streets,
although on pleasure bent, had yet a busy mind'; 'The colours
looked grayer - more enduring, not so gay and pretty;' 'It was all the darker from contrast with the pale gray-blue of the wintry sky, for in Helston there had been the
earliest signs of frost'; 'the loss of fragrance and herbage, 'Here and there a
great oblong many-windowed factory stood up, like a hen among her
chickens
, puffing out black 'unparliamentary' smoke, and sufficiently accounting for the cloud which Margaret had taken to foretell rain'. (The reference to 'unparliamentary smoke' is to the parliamentary legislation which required millowners to burn smoke before it was discharged into the city air and was the reason they built tall chimneys.)

The Lancashire 'primitive' artist L S Lowry is famous for painting scenes of the people and factories of the industrial north. Although the scenes were painted at a later date, they are still reminiscent of their Victorian heyday(keep scrolling down):-

http://www.btinternet.com/~anthony.seaton/lowry.html

And here is the lyric to a popular song written about him after he died:-

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/gary.hart/lyricsb/brian.html
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chadadanielleKR
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Re: North & South - Chapter 7 : Towards Milton(Possible Spoiler)

 
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chadadanielleKR
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Re: North & South - Chapter 7 : Towards Milton(Possible Spoiler)



Choisya wrote:
In Chapter 7 we are introduced to Milton through Margaret's country-bred eyes - everything looked more 'purposelike', the country carts 'had more iron, and less
wood and leather about the horse-gear'; 'the people in the streets,
although on pleasure bent, had yet a busy mind'; 'The colours
looked grayer - more enduring, not so gay and pretty;' 'It was all the darker from contrast with the pale gray-blue of the wintry sky, for in Helston there had been the
earliest signs of frost'; 'the loss of fragrance and herbage, 'Here and there a
great oblong many-windowed factory stood up, like a hen among her
chickens
, puffing out black 'unparliamentary' smoke, and sufficiently accounting for the cloud which Margaret had taken to foretell rain'. (The reference to 'unparliamentary smoke' is to the parliamentary legislation which required millowners to burn smoke before it was discharged into the city air and was the reason they built tall chimneys.)

The Lancashire 'primitive' artist L S Lowry is famous for painting scenes of the people and factories of the industrial north. Although the scenes were painted at a later date, they are still reminiscent of their Victorian heyday(keep scrolling down):-

http://www.btinternet.com/~anthony.seaton/lowry.html

And here is the lyric to a popular song written about him after he died:-

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/gary.hart/lyricsb/brian.html




Very nice and interesting pictures. The atmosphere makes me think of the "Jungle": industrialization in process... Thank you.
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