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Archive for May 28th, 2008

Serial novels

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For N.

Dickens and the Victorian Serial Novel and Great Expectations as a Victorian Serial Novel: By students of English 434: Nineteenth-Century English Novel at The University of Michigan-Dearborn. Includes a helpful How To Read a Victorian Novel :)

The nineteenth-century Victorian serial novel was a way for readers and writers to make a novel last years and be talked about endlessly like the daily soap opera of this century.

No time to be idle: the serial novel and popular imagination: Shawn Crawford. An authoritative essay, cited by the above.

In January 1841, passengers arriving in New York from Europe would be greeted by anxious people on the docks. They all had the same question: “Is Little Nell dead?”

[…] the conditions of Victorian England made serialization the primary mode of novel publication for fifty years. Everyone published serially, including George Eliot, who hated it, and Henry James, whose work hardly seems suitable […]

Of the 192 novels published serially in the Victorian Era (1836–1889) [..]

Dickens and Serial Publication: Joel J. Brattin.

Most of Dickens’ novels were serialized in 20 monthly installments […] always included precisely 32 pages of text, two engraved illustrations, and, usually, 16 pages of advertisements.

The death of Mary Hogarth, Dickens’ beloved sister-in-law, in May 1837 led him to miss the only professional writing deadline of his career.

(I presume that means it was the only one he missed!)

Other topics:
Dickens and His Readers: E. D. H. Johnson. On “Dickens’ dependence on public approbation”

All of Dickens’ novels made their first appearance in serial form. Nine came out in monthly installments: Pickwick Papers, Nicholas Nickleby, Martin Chuzzlewit, Dombey and Son, David Copperfield, Bleak House, Little Dorrit, Our Mutual Friend, and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Five were composed for weekly serialization: The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge in Master Humphrey’s Clock; Hard Times in Household Words; and A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations in All the Year Round.

Dickens and the Classic Serial: Robert Giddings, presenting long paper on classic serials on BBC.

Dostoevsky and the English Novel: Dickens, John Cowper Powys and D. H. Lawrence

All Dickens’s novels had been translated into Russian by the time of Dostoevsky’s death in 1881. He was virtually an honorary Russian and to this day many Russian homes boast a complete set of his novels. Readers queued up for the latest serial instalment of them in Moscow just as they did in London and New York.

Also see:

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Written by S

Wed, 2008-05-28 at 14:51:25

Posted in literature

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Umrao Jaan Without Its Rekha

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It seems some people hate typefaces with letterforms that are intended to mimic another script. (E.g., these, or this logo of Café Spice, a terrible food place at MIT):

Café Spice logo

Here is Carla Filmigeek with some examples including the Arabic-esque Devanagari for the new Umrao Jaan, calling them

too cutesy, an ersatz fetishization that bastardizes the true beauty and diversity of the world’s writing systems.

Thanks to India Amos for commenting; there is this article by Jessica Helfand:

But on some level, the line is a murky one: what’s the difference between a celebrity making an unforgivable racist remark and a typographer making a font that clumsily perpetuates a cultural stereotype?

Similarly, here is Dan Reynolds, writing Indian newspaper search, part two, with an example followed by

Sadly, there was also some of this typographic nonsense.1 Note the “45″ to the right.

Now, I agree that these “exotic” letters can be annoying when used unnecessarily. As Maddox says,

Hey Forster, you know why we don’t need ethnic-looking fonts to illustrate the fact that we’re in another country? Because letters placed in close proximity to each other spell words that represent the names of those countries. That, and the obvious change in scenery. […] Even my [mom] knows that using fancy fonts makes her a lameass.

But I’m inclined to cheer them for being clever and playful. As this article by Paul Shaw (thanks to Priya) says,

stereotypes, though crude, serve a commercial purpose. […] There is no room for cultural nuance or academic accuracy in a shop’s fascia. Restaurant owners want passersby (often in cars rather than on foot) to know immediately that they serve Chinese (or Greek, or Jewish) food, and a lettering style that achieves this is welcome.



1: Speaking of typographic nonsense, here’s an example: “K alphabet”. (Found via here.) There are a lot of disturbing things about it, but what really annoys me is people saying “alphabet” when they mean a single letter!

Written by S

Wed, 2008-05-28 at 08:49:24

Posted in language

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