Posts Tagged ‘John Gray’

Curio(u)s: A Miscellany of Literary Tidbits

23 September 2009

Contributed by Christina Morin

the beggar's opera

As I was reading through the recent posts here on Pue’s Occurrences, it struck me that a blog is, for all intents and purposes, a twenty-first century equivalent of that peculiarly eighteenth-century literary form: the miscellany. In very general terms, a miscellany is, according to the OED, ‘[a] mixture, medley, or assortment; (a collection of) miscellaneous objects or items’. In literary terms, it’s ‘[a] book, volume, or literary production containing miscellaneous pieces on various subjects’. Working from this definition, my little summaries of eighteenth-century novels and review of contemporary adaptations of eighteenth century plays could be pretty accurately described as a miscellany, too – a Reader’s Digest of eighteenth-century fictional and dramatic greats (abridged). 

While I have mixed feelings about this thought, primarily owing to caution ensuing from an as yet short but somehow all too long teaching career, in this context I prefer to think, along with Samuel Johnson, that ‘[i]t is by studying the little things that we attain the great art of having as little misery and as much happiness as possible’. Here, of course, I am grandly interpreting the literary précis as one of these so-called ‘little things’, and I offer forth my (admittedly highly biased) musings on eighteenth-century literature hoping first and foremost to entertain. I’d be lying, however, if I didn’t admit to being completely elated when a reader responded to my first post to say that he had actually gone out and read Castle Rackrent. (Bless you, Patrick!) Read more