|From The Prisoner of Zenda|
I can understand why The Prisoner of Zenda was left behind. It's a tale of adventure, not very deep, and shows its age when it comes to Hope's portrayal of women. But it's still a ripping yarn, and I think it ought to be mentioned among A List adventure tales like Treasure Island or The Three Musketeers.
|From The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921 film)|
Earlier this year, I read Anne Brontë's Agnes Grey. In the case of this book (and Brontë's other book The Tenant of Wildfell Hall), I think there were two things working against them. First, I think they were so brutally honest that people at the time couldn't handle them. They uncovered very unpleasant truths about Regency life. And, second, I think she's been overshadowed by her sisters' work. How does one compete with Jane Eyre, after all?
When I was an English major (and yes, you can make the argument that once a person is an English major, they'll always been an English major), I never liked critical methods that asked the scholar to look at the text without its context. I never believed that writers could create anything in a vacuum. To my way of thinking, these books tells us as much about the author's time and setting as much as they do about the characters and the story of the novel. Reading what people liked (Zenda) and reading commentary about a generation (Horsemen) and the books that people couldn't handle at the time (Agnes Grey) creates links to the past--even if it's via fiction.