Archive for the ‘swarner’ Category

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The Wide, Wide World

February 14, 2008

The Wide, Wide World was written by Susan Warner and published in 1850 under the name Elizabeth Wetherell. It was an enormous success, and probably America’s first bestseller — it was as popular in the second half of the 19th century as Uncle Tom’s Cabin was, and was published two years before it. It was also one of the first books intended for girls rather than children. I guess it’s sort of similar to the works of Charlotte Yonge, who was writing around the same time.

For all these reasons I’ve been intending to read it for a long time, but there are so many things I want to read, and so I didn’t get around the The Wide, Wide World until the fact that Elsie Dinsmore reads it in Elsie’s Girlhood made me feel like I had to.

Well, it took me a while, but it was no hardship. It’s actually a pretty good book, and I’ surprised it isn’t still considered a classic. It’s overtly religious nearly to the extent that the Elsie books are, but I think religion is dealt with much more sensitively in The Wide, Wide World. Possibly this is because Warner was a much better writer than Martha Finley. Everything is dealt with more sensitively. Characters stay in character. There is interest outside of religion in The Wide, Wide World, and sometimes, when children are playing games, you actually get the sense that they’re having fun, as opposed to just being told that they are. And I kept having moments where I’d look up from the page and think to myself, “Yeah. That seems like something a person would do.” Much as I love old girls’ books, I don’t have many moments like that while reading them. Read the rest of this entry ?