Classics Circuit-Gothic Lit-Jane Talbot

by Gwen

This is the first time that I have participated in a Classics Circuit Tour after lurking for over a year. There are two reasons that caused me to stop sitting on the sidelines; one, I think that I love gothic literature, and two, on the list was an American author that I had never heard of before. How is it possible that I had never heard of Charles Brockden Brown?

From Wikipedia

Charles Brockden Brown (January 17, 1771 – February 22, 1810), an American novelist, historian, and editor of the Early National period, is generally regarded by scholars as the most ambitious and accomplished US novelist before James Fenimore Cooper.

Was I asleep during that section in all of the lit classes that I have taken over the years? I probably ditched those weeks, that might explain it.  I was *famous* for ditching classes in high school and for never wearing shoes in college. I might have stubbed a toe on my way to the beach while at SDSU…or something.

The book I chose of his was Jane Talbot and I am almost embarrassed to tell you why. It was short, that was it’s major selling point besides being a new-to-me author. What can I say, it was crunch time for reading/reviewing books for work. I had more then 10 books to read in less than 3 weeks before I could get to books for the blog: being a scant 190 pages was a biggie.

Jane Talbot is told in epistolary form, letters back and forth from the characters over a grand period of time, in this case, that together, memorialize the love story of Jane Talbot and Henry Colden.

In a nutshell, Jane loves Henry, Henry loves Jane. The problem is that no one else wants them to be together. Her guardian, mistakenly believing Henry to be nefarious, threatens to cut Jane off financially. Henry loves Jane so much that he doesn’t want to see her suffer through poverty to be with him. Henry’s dad is also not a fan of the match and has already cut him off.

The letters go back and forth, Jane trying to make her guardian understand that Henry isn’t a bad guy… Henry trying to figure out who gave her that impression…Jane trying to please everyone else by giving him up … all of this over a huge length of time because people are traveling and well, letters take forever.

I am not about to give away the ending, however two things came to mind as I finished this. First, we should be really grateful that communicating isn’t as slow as it used to be and second, this story wasn’t very gothic or at least not the dark, bleak gothic that I am used to.

Wait, there was one more thing and it was personal. Their relationship was reminiscent of my own. We are going on year seven of a relationship that EVERYONE in both of our lives was against, said would never work, made vast negative judgments about, etc. Trust me, at the beginning, there was no one in our corner and we weren’t even sure that we could weather the familial storms brewing. So far, so good, and it just goes to show you that while technology and communication marches on, people have been and always will be sticking their nose in your business and 9 times out of 10, they are doing it with the wrong information.

What does “gothic literature” mean to you?

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