Yesterday’s Bestsellers: A Journey Through Literary History by Brian M. Stableford.

Stableford closely reads several bestselling authors’ works. The impression I got from reading his essays was that these authors are mostly unconscious creators. They didn’t have much control over the themes and issues that arose in their works.

He touched on a lot of authors but I’ll just mention three of them.

Stableford mostly treats the authors without condescension which made it enjoyable to read. The only exception was a Marie Corelli. His description of her novels made me laugh because she sounds like the first Mary Sue writer.

Her protagonists often had her initials. They are amazingly talented in art, beautiful, possess supernatural powers and are highly virtuous.

How virtuous? Well, in an early work, her lady protagonist wins the heart of an angel. Later, another lady heroine converts and wins the heart of Satan himself. I’ve got to read her stuff.

The analysis of No Orchids for Miss Blandish by James Hadley Chase particularly struck me. Miss Blandish is a wealthy young woman is abducted for money by some complete thugs. Apparently, even George Orwell of 1984 felt it was too brutal. It has such a jaunty title that I didn’t realize it was such a grim story.

Green Mansions by W. H. Hudson is a novel that is not spoken of much nowadays. I remembering being spellbound by it years ago but haven’t reread it.

The basic story is that a European man travels to Guyana and meets a mysterious “nature” girl named Rima. Rima has her own language and seems to communicate with animals. She’s also pretty. Our protagonist falls for her hard.

I’ve never seen the movie version with Audrey Hepburn because she doesn’t strike me as a nature goddess. I think of her as being much more the urban sophisticate.


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