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Record 19245

Reading Experience:

'As you ask me for my opinion I shall try and give it as truly as I can; otherwise it will be of no use [...] In the first place you say you do not call The 3 paths a novel; but the work is in the form which always assumes that name, nor do I think it is one to be quarrelled with. I suppose you mean that you used the narrative form merely to {convey} introduce certain opinions & thoughts. If so you had better have condensed them into the shape of an Essay. Those in Friends in Council &c. are admirable examples of how much may be said on both sides of any question without any {dogma} decision being finally arrived at, & certainly without any dogmatism. [Gaskell then discusses the merits of the concise essay form] But I believe in spite of yr objection to the term 'novel' you do wish to 'narrate', - and I believe you can do it if you try, - but I think you must observe what is [italics] out [end italics] of you, instead of examining what is [italics] in [end italics] you. [Gaskell explains the merits of this at length]. Just read a few pages of De Foe &c - and you will see the healthy way in which he sets [italics] objects [end italics] not [italics] feelings [end italics] before you. [She advises Grey to use what he observes through every day contact with real people] Think if you can not imagine a complication of events in their life which would form a good plot. (Your plot in The Three paths is very poor; you have not thought enough about it - simply used it as a medium. [She discusses the advantages of tight plotting and advises] Don't intrude yourself into your description. If you but think eagerly of your story till [italics] you see it in action [end italics], words, good simple strong words will come. [she then criticises his overuse of epithets, overlong conversations and allusions, concluding] You see I am very frank-spoken. But I believe you are worth it.'
Century: 1850-1899
Date: From: 15 Mar 1859
Country: England
Time: n/a
Place: city: Manchester
specific address: 42 Plymouth Grove
Type of Experience (Reader):
silent aloud unknown
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown
Type of Experience (Listener):
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown

Reader/Listener/Reading Group:

Reader:Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
Age Adult (18-100+)
Gender Female
Date of Birth 29 Sep 1810
Socio-economic group: Professional / academic / merchant / farmer
Occupation: author and clergyman's wife
Religion: n/a
Country of origin: England
Country of experience: England
Listeners present if any:
(e.g. family, servants, friends, workmates)
Additional comments: n/a


Text Being Read:

Author: Herbert Grey
Title: Three Paths, The
Genre: Fiction
Form of Text: Unknown
Publication details: published 1859 - not certain if Gaskell saw the book or the MS
Provenance: unknown


Source Information:

Record ID: 19245  
Source - Print  
  Author: Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
  Editor: J.A.V. Chapple
  Title: Letters of Mrs Gaskell, The
  Place of Publication: Manchester
  Date of Publication: 1997
  Vol: n/a
  Page: 541-2
  Additional comments: n/a

Citation: Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, J.A.V. Chapple (ed.), Letters of Mrs Gaskell, The (Manchester, 1997), p. 541-2,, accessed: 27 January 2023

Additional comments:

Additional editor, Arthur Pollard. Letter to Herbert Grey.



Reading Experience Database version 2.0.  Page updated: 27th Apr 2016  3:15pm (GMT)