Saturday, June 14, 2008

Dickens vs. Johnson: a literary dispute

Captain Brown and Miss Jenkyns were not very cordial to each other. The literary dispute, of which I had seen the beginning, was a "raw," the slightest touch on which made them wince. It was the only difference of opinion they had ever had; but that difference was enough. Miss Jenkyns could not refrain from talking at Captain Brown; and, though he did not reply, he drummed with his fingers, which action she felt and resented as very disparaging to Dr. Johnson. He was rather ostenatious in his preference of the writings of Mr. Boz; would walk through the streets so absorbed in them that he all but ran against Miss Jenkyns; and though his apologies were earnest and sincere, and though he did not, in fact, do more than startle her and himself, she owned to me she had rather he had knocked her down, if he had only been reading a higher style of literature.

--Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford


  1. This book has been recommended by another friend, yet I was disappointed in the PBS miniseries. I had the sense that Gaskell was being deliberately cruel to some of her characters, and I don't know if that was the adaptation, from the book, or just my gut feeling about it. I'd be interested with what you think when you're done with the book. Are you going to read all three?

  2. I didn't watch the miniseries, but I read something last week to make me think it really wasn't based on the book. This is my third Gaskell (so far). Wives and Daughters, the first, is my favorite, although Mary Barton was tighter and had an actual plot.