Dedicated to classics and hits.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ormond by Maria Edgeworth

Book Review
Ormond by Maria Edgeworth
p. 1817
Penguin Classics Edition
w/ Notes and Introduction by Claire Connolly
p. 2000

  This is Maria Edgeworth's third and final title in 1001 Books To Read Before You Die 2006 edition.  Her other titles are The Absentee (1812) and Castle Rackrent (1800) and she was a contemporary of both Jane Austen- she didn't like the opening of Persuasion! and Sir Walter Scott- he acknowledged The Absentee as a primary influence on his tremendously popular Waverely novel, published two years after The Absentee, and a decade and a half after Castle Rackrent.

 Maria Edgeworth arguably wrote the first historical novel and the first regional novel.  Ormond itself is a conscious, knowing link between the Picaresque "Life and Adventures" and the more mature Bildungsroman (Coming of Age Story) of the early and mid 19th century.  This shift represents an additional level of sophistication and depth in the experience of reading a Novel.

  If you compare Marie Edgeworth's popularity to that of Sir Walter Scott and Jane Austen- her two main contemporaries (as far as posterity is concerned)- you get a pulse, but a faint pulse.

  At the same time it is important to acknowledge that the regional quality of the dialogue makings simple comprehension fairly difficult.  This book was also the last book I tracked down from the books that range from 1800 to 1820- no free Kindle edition, no Oxford Classics Edition.  Obviously this is a minor classic, and I can understand why, even as I understand why 20th century literature graduate students must have found some appeal in this text.

  Ormond is also probably the easiest of Maria Edgeworth's hits to actually read- the explicit references to Tom Jones by Henry Fielding as a model for the titular Ormond give the reader a "jumping off point" in a way that became common in Fiction in the 19th and 20th century (genre fiction.)

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