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by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
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`Cranford is in possession of the Amazons; all the holders of houses, above a certain rent, are women.' In this witty and poignant comedy of early-Victorian life in a country town, Elizabeth Gaskell describes the uneventful lives of the lady-like inhabitants so as to offer an ironic commentary on the diverse experiences of men and women. She explores the unlikely juxtapositions of old and new brought about by the pace of change: the effects of Victorian commerce and imperial expansion co-exist with the survival of customs and habits of thought from much earlier times. This edition has detailed notes and a new introduction which discusses the originality and subtlety of the book's angle on women's experience.
In this classic portrait of life in a quiet English village of the early nineteenth century, Elizabeth Gaskell writes with wit and affection of the foibles, follies and endearing eccentricities of its occupants as they struggle to maintain standards in their genteel poverty. This witty and poignant comedy, with its ironic observations on the pretensions of class is told through the eyes of a young woman who befriends the elderly ladies of Cranford.
The Merriam-Webster Encylopedia of Literature
Novel by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, published serially in Charles Dickens' magazine Household Words from 1851 to 1853 and in book form in 1853. Basing her tales on the village in which she was reared, Gaskell produced a gently comic picture of life and manners in an English country village during the 1830s. The novel's narrator (a young woman who periodically visits Cranford) describes the small adventures in the lives of two middle-aged sisters in reduced circumstances who do their best to maintain their standards of propriety, decency, and kindness. Using an intimate, gossipy voice that never turns sentimental, Gaskell conveys the old-fashioned habits, subtle class distinctions, and genteel poverty of the townspeople. Cranford quickly became one of the author's best-loved works.
About the Author
Elizabeth Gaskell (18101865) was a ministers wife and mother of four daughters. Living in Manchester, England, she worked among the poor, traveled frequently, and wrote several novels and a biography of her friend Charlotte Brontë.
Patricia Ingham is senior research fellow and reader at St. Annes College, Oxford. She is the general editor of Thomas Hardys fiction in Penguin Classics and edited Gaskells North and South for the series.
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