11/1/2007 - Thursday evening

Reading Mary Barton, by Victorian novelist, Elizabeth Gaskell, which he calls a sort of Uncle Tom's Cabin of England. It talks about social issues.

He's in the midst of a reading list of Victorian novels--he loves Nineteenth Century art, music, literature, painting as well. There is a sophistication that comes from having spare time and privilege. The aesthetics are second to none and, another reason why he enjoys it--reading so much in the same period, about 150 books so far, he can see how it all draws on itself. There's tons of allusions.

It was probably Wuthering Heights, and the girl he was dating at the time that drew him in; though, now, it's his brother and some friends with whom he talks about these novels.

What he recommends--Dickens, maybe Great Expectations, though it's dense, or The Pickwick Papers, which is funny, picaresque with lots of adventures, extremely topical.

His favorite book--The Great Gatsby, which he read when he was young and searching for a favorite. He especially likes the first chapter, that it's written from the perspective of a peripheral character is really unique.

Check out his website at thejohnfrancis.com, which is absolutely beautifully designed, influenced by a Victorian aesthetic. He plays guitar and you can listen to his music on the site.


1 Comment:

KennethSF said...

I like Victorian literature, but find it difficult to recommend it to the younger generation. Raised in the fragmented MTV culture and linked by acronym-infested Instant Messengers, they don't seem to have the patience or the inclination to sift through the carefully crafted Victorian prose. It's a shame, because some of the most beautiful, elegant expressions are to be fond in the Dickensian novels.