Tag Archives: Villette

The Forgotten Novels

How many times do readers hear of a famous author and read the novel that gave the author a name, and yet never read other novels by the same author? Is it because the others are not as good? Or are they overlooked because they have not been given much consideration in the literary world.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” This is the opening sentence in Jane Austen’s prestige novel Pride and Prejudice. Many who have not read the novel, surely know the name of Mr Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennet, because of the television or movie adaption. Austen published four novels during her life and two posthumously. Of these six novels, Pride and Prejudice, the second novel to be published, is her most well-known novel. But, what about her other novels, are they hidden behind the prestige of Pride and Prejudice? Northanger Abbey (1818) is one of Austen’s overshadowed novels.  The novel is a parody of Gothic fiction, as Austen turns the conventions of eighteenth-century literature on its head, with her literary allusions and plain heroine. But, despite this the story is cleverly written and comical, displaying an ordinary picture of a young girl, with a wild imagination and falling in love.

Another novel that has been pushed aside, to the forgotten to read books, is Charlotte Bronte’s Villette (1853). This novel is Bronte’s fourth, and is a favourite of mine with Bronte’s prestige Jane Eyre, (1847) her most commonly known novel.  Villette follows Lucy Snowe, who after an unspecified family disaster, travels from England to the fictional French-speaking city of Villette to teach at a girl’s school, where she is drawn into adventure and romance. Villette, is exceptionally written and provides a deep character portrayal of Lucy Snowe. It is difficult to say why Villette is overlooked by fans of Jane Eyre, perhaps because we had no idea what Mr Rochester had in his attic, that still astounds the readers today. But, Villette doesn’t disappoint, with its psychological state of Lucy Snowe, and the ambiguity of the ending as, Bronte stated as a “little puzzle.”

Overall, Austen and Bronte, are more commonly known for their one novel that made their name in the literary world. Even though they have other novels, which are just as well written, developed and classics, they are overlooked, by the prestige that is given to their more famous of novels. But, as readers, we shouldn’t forget the other novels that have been written by some of the greatest writers of English literature.

JMR

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