(Featured Image: Breakfast Time by Hanna Hirsch-Pauli, 1887)
Tea with TLW #8: Stephanie Palmer on Turn-of-the-Century American Women Writers and British Reviewers.
Wed 1 July 2020, 4pm GMT.
This Wednesday at 4pm, the #TeawithTLW series continues with a talk from Dr Stephanie Palmer, based on her new book – Transatlantic Footholds: Turn-of-the-Century American Women Writers and British Reviewers. More information about the talk can be found here, and you can read more about the book here: https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/9780429261428
Prior to her talk, Stephanie has provided some quotations discussed in the book; only a few of them will be addressed on Wednesday, but feel free to read them below in order to whet your appetite before the discussion.
As usual, we are looking forward to seeing you, enjoying some tea and cake and having a fascinating discussion about transatlantic women’s writing. If you’d like to join us, please email us at email@example.com and we will send a secure Zoom link on the day.
We hope to see you there!
TeamTLW: Laura, Anna, Chiara and Lindsay
‘As the reader passes through the various perspectives offered by the text, and relates the different views and patterns to one another, he sets the work in motion, and so sets himself in motion, too.’ – Wolfgang Iser, ‘Interaction between Text and Reader’
‘This is outwardly one of a class of books on which we look with the extremest aversion. It seems part of a pietistic literature, without knowledge, without an attempt at a scientific theology, the volumes of which are mostly a hash of texts in a nauseating Calvinistic sauce. Such little volumes are terrible when they come from Scotland, as do a vast number of them, but then we are not obliged to read them. If, on the other hand, they come from America, they are doubly terrible, because there is a certain fascination and freshness in almost all American prose writing which induces us to skim the pages to our intellectual harm and moral disgust. We have no doubt many of our readers sympathize with us, and if they should chance to take up “The Gates Ajar,” would lay it down all the more quickly if they saw “Sixth Edition,” or such and such a “Thousand,” on the title-page. For they have learnt by long and sad experience that popular theology is scarce worthy the name, and popular piety extremely irreverent.
‘But they would do Miss or Mrs. Phelps an injustice, and deprive themselves of a great pleasure, if they thus treated this singularly beautiful little book. If the buyers of all the editions really understood its drift, the creed of the people is in a far healthier state than we have believed it. If not, may many more thousands be sold, that the change may be wrought insensibly.’ – C. Kegan Paul, Review ofThe Gates Ajar, by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Theological Review, 1870
‘It is not given to a male writer thus to pourtray [sic] the very core and essence of a woman’s life—to penetrate into that innermost sanctuary wherein the greatest issues so frequently turn upon apparently infinitesimal causes!
‘Of the twenty-six almost perfect idylls of which the two volumes respectively entitled A Humble Romance and A Far Away Melody are composed but very few deal with the ordinary materials of romance, or concern themselves with the joys and sorrows of the conventional girl heroine and her lover.’
‘Story after story recounts the simple interests, the homely sorrows of the old, the poor, and the lowly, and deals with the lives of commonplace people. It is of their passionate attachments, of their profound tenderness, that the sketches tell. The exquisite sketch which gives its name to one of the volumes relates the story of two plain sisters, possessing no beauty of face nor any intellectual culture, who had walked hand in land for a long lifetime along a thorny road of humble duty, of homely toil, until the cruel moment of separation came at last. The story is full of poetry and pathos.’ – Review of A Far Away Melody, and Other Stories, A Humble Romance, and Other Stories, by Mary E. Wilkins, Shafts, 1890
‘We could not easily find a more powerful or pathetic love story than that of Alessandro and the beautiful “Señorita” [. . .] who has stooped to a suitor of such low degree. But the tale can scarcely fail to have another aspect for many of its readers. It is another voice of witness to the charge of monstrous cruelty and injustice on the part of the States to the Indian populations which have fallen under their power, a charge supported by testimony from all parts of the continent, and never, as far as we know, contradicted. It makes one’s blood boil to read of these wholesale robberies of land, held by a tenure really as good in equity as the most stringent conveyance, which citizens of the States have committed, and its Governments allowed. [. . .] Our record in the matter of native tribes is not blameless, but it does not approach the infamy of these proceedings.’ – Review of Ramona, by Helen Hunt Jackson, Pall Mall Gazette, 1885
‘In exciting here as profound and unflagging an interest as in “The House of Mirth” Mrs. Wharton must be credited with an even greater success. The tragedy of Lily Bart was that she was really fitted for a higher destiny than that of a social parasite. Here we have the deeper tragedy of a complete correspondence between character and destiny. Undine Spragg is the petted only child of a homely, well-off couple [. . .] Meanwhile Undine has come up against the blank wall of French aristocratic tradition, and has realized that there is no loophole there for American feminine arrogance. [. . .] Meanwhile the European reader is left in a state of perhaps illusory thankfulness that passionless, capricious, and ignorant monsters like Undine are as yet confined to the country that deliberately engenders them.’ – Review of The Custom of the Country, Glasgow Herald, 1913.
‘Who but a Sunday editor, undoubtedly the most easily startled of human beings, could feel the least surprise at this steady damnation of the American wife, whether by foreign observer or by native novelist? Take, for example, the British weekly magazines. Years ago they formed the habit of exposing her and they would no more dream of leaving off now than of omitting the article on “What the Birds Are Doing in Devonshire.” Time and again they have burst out upon the American woman all at once, as when one Dr. Andrew McPnail, some three years ago, called her a Hanoverian rat, a San Joséscale, a noxious weed, a jade, a giantess, and a potato-bug, and was immediately copied approvingly by the other British magazines, and widely quoted on the Continent.’ – F.M. Colby, ‘The Book of the Month’, North American Review, 1914.