Read Along,  Show Notes

Episode 227: “Agnes Grey” by Anne Bronte, Ch. 19-25

On The Literary Life Podcast this week, Angelina and Thomas wrap up their series on Anne Brontë’s Agnes Grey. In this final episode on this beautiful Victorian novel, our hosts begin with their commonplace quotes which lead into the book discussion and the Victorian ideas about the supernatural. They talk about the major plot points here at the end of this book, contrasting the way Jane Austen dealt with these sorts of stories in contrast with Anne Brontë’s treatment of Agnes Grey. Some highlights of the conversation include thoughts on the world of education, the rebirth and reversal scene, and the question of how this story rates in terms of art versus didacticism.

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Commonplace Quotes:

Praise is a cripple; blame has wings to fly.

La louange est sans pieds et le blame a des ailes.

Victor Hugo

The idea of the supernatural was perhaps at as low an ebb as it had ever been–certainly much lower than it is now. But in spite of this, and in spite of a certain ethical cheeriness that was almost de rigueur–the strange fact remains that the only sort of supernaturalism the Victorians allowed to their imaginations was a sad supernaturalism. They might have ghost stories, but not saints’ stories. They could triple with the curse or unpardoning prophecy of a witch, but not with the pardon of a priest. They seem to have held (I believe erroneously) that the supernatural was safest when it came from below. When we think (for example) of the uncountable riches of religious art, imagery, ritual and popular legend that has clustered round Christmas through all the Christian ages, it is a truly extraordinary thing to reflect that Dickens (wishing to have in The Christmas Carol a little happy supernaturalism by way of a change) actually had to make up a mythology for himself.

G. K. Chesterton, The Victorian Age in Literature

A Selection from Rabbi Ben Ezra

By Robert Browing

Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith "A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!'

Book List:

God’s Funeral by A. N. Wilson

Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners by John Bunyan

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

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