For February the hosts of The Classics Club have asked What Classic has most surprised you so far and why?
And I’m not sure if it’s just the books I’ve read or the questions themselves, but I constantly seem to be going back to the same book to answer these questions. I’m glad I checked to see what the next few questions were or I would probably have given up on the monthly memes after this month.
The most surprising book I’ve read is, of course, Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I mean how can you not be surprised?!? I’ve just looked back at my response and it starts with
How scandalously shocking! From divorce and debauchery to alcoholism and adultery, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was not only startling, but it was well ahead of its times in terms of Brontë’s revelations of the mistreatment of women, education of children and the inability to women to fend for themselves and their children regardless of position or circumstance.
How could you not be surprised? This was a young woman writing about things which she shouldn’t know anything about during the early-to-mid 19th century. And add to the fact that I didn’t realize it was one of the earliest feminist novels, of course I’m in love with it. May Sinclair, another female novelist of the late 19th, early 20th century) said “the slamming of Helen’s bedroom door against her husband reverberated throughout Victorian England.” Talk about powerful.