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Cranford & Other Stories (Wordsworth Classics)

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1840224511
ISBN-10: 1840224517
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Along with short stories and a biography of Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865) published five more novels including "Wives and Daughters" (1865).

John Chapple is Emeritus Professor at the University of Hull.
Alan Shelston is Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Manchester.
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Product Details

  • Series: Wordsworth Classics
  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd (July 10, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840224517
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840224511
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.1 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #717,509 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By John Martin on January 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
There are two reasons for reading Elizabeth Gaskell's novels(Mary
Barton, North and South, Wives and Daughters, etc). The first is that you enjoy the type of story that she tells. Her works are about ordinary people living in rural areas of England during the early part of the 19th century. Other writers, such as Thomas Hardy, Anthony Trollope and George Eliot write similarly, but with varying emphases. By contrast, Charles Dickens wrote about urban people, Jane Austen covered a higher class of society. If you like highly charged adventure stories about heroes, then Sir Walter Scott's work would be more interesting.

The second reason is that Gaskell is a "second tier" writer, important but not in the same class as Dickens, Austen, the Bronte Sisters, etc. To be well rounded and knowledgeable it is important to read at least some authors such as Caskell and Trollope, but I would say that the first priority is to read the best authors first.

Having read these "first tier" authors (in some cases all of their works) I decided to sample Mrs. Gaskell's work and selected Cranford and Other Stories because I thought reading shorter works would give me a better sampling of her art. I wasn't disappointed. This book includes the novella, Cranford and six widely varying short stories.

Essentially Gaskell's theme is the superiority of rural over urban places, but country life is being threatened by the inroads of modernity and urban values. As she herself is quoted as saying in the Introduction to the short stories, referring to rural places, "Oh! that Life would make a stand-still in this happy place." This theme is especially pronounced in Cranford which is a small community largely populated by elderly women.
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Elizabeth Gaskell is a very fine writer of the ordinary occurrences in life. She might be a bit wordier than contemporary writers but her writing makes her people live as few writers can. I won't bother with many more words. Read hers. Read this book.
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Came across Elizabeth Gaskell in my Netflix recommendations. These stories are such great reads. If you love Pride and Prejudice, these stories will be for you as well.
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