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Old 07-31-2021, 04:05 PM   #1
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East Lynne by Ellen Wood

It's time to launch the second selection of the Classics Salon book club - East Lynne, a sensation novel written by Ellen Wood in 1861.

Sensation novels were the most popular genre in Great Britain in the 1860's and 1870's, and were the best sellers of their time. They descended from, and borrowed elements from, earlier melodramatic and Gothic novels. The genre became widely popular after the publication of East Lynne (1861), The Woman in White (1859), and Lady Audley's Secret (1862). Sensation novels allowed authors to consider shocking subject matter (adultery, murder, theft, etc.), within wildly implausible plots often involving mistaken or hidden identities, and with incredible plot twists -- all set within ordinary domestic settings. Literary critics, notably John Ruskin, condemned the public's appetite for such fare, which only added to the genre's notoriety and popularity.

East Lynne was selected for the club read to give modern readers a taste of popular reading in the 19th century, to step away from the Dickens and James titles, and discover what Victorian readers were devouring and clamoring for.

So, dive into the world of Lady Isabel Vane and experience the thrills of a badly lived life.

We had planned to launch the reading of August 1, with discussion commencing on August 15. Feel free to post comments as you read.
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Old 08-01-2021, 12:53 AM   #2
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Thanks for the introduction, poohbear_nc. It sounds as if there will be a few more thrill and spills than we found in Daniel Deronda!
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Old 08-01-2021, 12:01 PM   #3
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East Lynne was wildly popular for many years after its publication. There were numerous stage adaptations, under its own title and copycat versions, and it was a staple offering of many touring stock companies during the latter half of the 19th century.

There were also a number of film adaptations, of which the 1931 film received an Academy award nomination for Best Picture. The latest film version is a 1982 BBC made for television production.
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Old 08-01-2021, 01:37 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poohbear_nc View Post
East Lynne was wildly popular for many years after its publication. There were numerous stage adaptations, under its own title and copycat versions, and it was a staple offering of many touring stock companies during the latter half of the 19th century.

There were also a number of film adaptations, of which the 1931 film received an Academy award nomination for Best Picture. The latest film version is a 1982 BBC made for television production.
Mary Armstrong also stated in her 2015 article that the 1993 Robin Williams film Mrs. Doubtfire was also inspired by the East Lynne story (Victorian Literature and Culture, Volume 43, Issue 4, December 2015, pp. 745 - 764).
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Old 08-01-2021, 02:51 PM   #5
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There were also, apparently, at least two silent film adaptations, one in 1916 with Theda Bera, and one in 1925 with Thelma Rubens.
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Old 08-01-2021, 03:08 PM   #6
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Mary Armstrong also stated in her 2015 article that the 1993 Robin Williams film Mrs. Doubtfire was also inspired by the East Lynne story (Victorian Literature and Culture, Volume 43, Issue 4, December 2015, pp. 745 - 764).
Wow! I hadn't made that association at all - but it fits! Thanks!
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Old 08-01-2021, 03:14 PM   #7
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There were also, apparently, at least two silent film adaptations, one in 1916 with Theda Bera, and one in 1925 with Thelma Rubens.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:E...(1916)_-_1.jpg


Here's the ad in Variety for the Theda Bara film.

East Lynne really resonated with the public, despite its outlandish plot and sentimental themes, much like Trilby would do later.

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Old 08-02-2021, 02:08 PM   #8
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I went looking for this in the library here, and was briefly stumped because the author is listed as "Wood, Mrs Henry" there. Here are the links:

IMP format
PRC format
LRF format
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Old 08-02-2021, 02:39 PM   #9
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I went looking for this in the library here, and was briefly stumped because the author is listed as "Wood, Mrs Henry" there. Here are the links:

IMP format
PRC format
LRF format

Sorry for the confusion .. you'll find her named in various sites as either Ellen Wood, Mrs. Henry Wood, Ellen (Mrs. Henry) Wood, or Mrs. Henry (Ellen) Wood.

And thanks for providing the links. For those new to ebook formats, PRC is the choice for Kindle readers.
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Old 08-02-2021, 04:28 PM   #10
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There is a free download of East Lynne on the Delphi Classics website:

https://www.delphiclassics.com/shop/ellen-wood-2/

Scroll down to Description and click on either Kindle or epub.
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Old 08-04-2021, 12:13 AM   #11
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Thanks for the link, poohbear. I had only found it on ManyBooks, and I suspect the Delphi edition will be a better one.
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Old 08-04-2021, 09:59 AM   #12
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I started this yesterday and have already laughed out loud at it a few times. I feel that many lawyer jokes are incoming. Given that I am an American attorney, I've always enjoyed the ways Victorian authors poke fun at the English law system (especially that of property and inheritance).
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Old 08-06-2021, 12:46 PM   #13
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Sensation novelists were able to deal explicitly with subject matter not normally found, or accepted, in novels available to a genteel reading public -- such as adultery, seduction, illegitimate children, false identities, etc. And, the main characters were women -- who were set up to sin, briefly enjoy the results of their transgressions, suffer, and then repent and be punished. It was up to the reader to decide if the character had truly repented and deserved forgiveness for their sins, or instead, righteous moral condemnation.

In East Lynne, Wood immediately, and explicitly, announces the theme of the novel at the end of Chapter 1: "Could the fate that was to overtake his child have been foreseen by the earl, he would have struck her down to death, in his love, as she stood before him, rather than suffer her to enter upon it."

This dire admonition is then immediately followed up in Chapter 2, The Broken Cross, in the extremely heavy handed foreshadowing incident of Captain Levison stepping upon, and breaking in two, Lady Isabel's cross ("It was given me by my dear mamma just before she died."). Mrs. Levison asks the prophetic question "There! Now whose fault was that?", to which Lady Isabel tellingly answers "the fault was as much mine as yours." and then wails "I can only think of my broken cross. I am sure it must be an evil omen."

These opening two chapters set up, and foretell, the plot for the remaining chapters, neatly identifying the transgressors-to-be, the moral code that will be willfully violated, and the inevitability of Lady Isabel's fall. The promise to mend the cross implies the possibility of future forgiveness and redemption after the fall. Wood understood how to hook her reading public, and to provide teasers for upcoming events.
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Old 08-06-2021, 04:21 PM   #14
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Watch out for references to crosses, broken and intact, as you read - Wood uses this imagery throughout the novel.
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Old 08-06-2021, 04:40 PM   #15
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Important characters, as well as reference to the cross, are introduced early. I've gone back to reread the first few chapters so I could be sure to have them firmly in mind. So far it seems to be an entertaining read. I loved The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, the only other sensation novel I've read.
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