06 April 2010

The Extraordinary Adventures of Foundling Mick, by Jules Verne

Another "lost" Jules Verne novel - a better one, fortunately. But still not that good. This is Verne's tribute to Dickens, ie, attempt to write a Dickensian novel. Except he sets it in Ireland. So it's basically a kind of sentimental picaresque, which is Dickensian, sure, but Dickens is a lot better at it. I'm trying to figure out why, and all I can really think of is that his characters are more compelling, even when they are almost wholly saccharine. Verne does a fairly admirable job mustering outrage on the condition of Ireland, and getting in plenty of jabs at absentee landlords and colonial oppression, but the novel is still riddled with stereotypes. Full of "Irish" characters whose Irishness is repeatedly trumpeted. It really makes you appreciate Irish literature of the period, and its bizarre semi-ironized deployment of these same tropes, a lot more. I'll take Maria Edgeworth, or even Lady Morgan, any day over this. Sorry Jules.

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