(For some reason, being at the MLA has driven me to think of this novel.)
When we left off last time, our heroes had finally made it to Oxford--and only halfway through the novel. The heart throbs.
P. 263: I was wondering when the anti-Catholicism was going to show up; here it is! (The author has already taken potshots at the Methodists, after all.)
Pp. 264-65: Apparently, it's OK to go to Roman Catholic churches and mock the rites.
P. 265-66: Our heroes are now snarking during the service. Mysteriously, nobody tells them to shut up.
P. 267: And now they've moved up closer, just so they can sneer at the Eucharist. Isn't somebody going to suggest that they can it? Are they having this discussion behind some sort of Star Trek-style cloaking field?
P. 268: At least they like the sermon.
P. 273: Our heroes have a charming (albeit somewhat draconian) tutor named the Rev. Mr. Upright. The Rev. Mr. Upright has a Mrs. Upright. At Oxford. In the eighteen or early nineteenth century, depending on whenever the novel thinks it is at the current moment. When tutors were not allowed to marry. What the hey?
P. 279: "'How much is sometimes conveyed,' said Clinton, 'in a single sentence!'" Once again, the author conspicuously fails to take his own advice.
P. 281: Calling a tutor at Eton "Mr. Etonian" betrays a certain lack of imagination.
Pp. 285-88: Back to walloping High Calvinism, which apparenty leads to drunkenness. Surely some editor must have suggested that fewer targets might have improved matters? (Of course, that supposes the existence of an editor.)
P. 289: Oh, and it also leads to drowning when your ship sinks.
P. 290: Now somebody has committed suicide over money matters. Or, rather, later somebody has committed suicide over money matters (it's a flash-forward).
P. 292: Charles has just received a job offer. Is there some reason why the "Oxford students" of the title actually spend only about thirty pages at Oxford?
Pp. 299-301: Charles cures an old friend's insanity by lecturing her on human depravity?!
P. 303: Now he's quoting Cowper, no doubt as a break from Campbell.
P. 305: Thank goodness, we're back at Oxford. Temporarily.
P. 309: As a break from attacking High Calvinists, Methodists, and Roman Catholics, the author will now attack "liberal" Anglicans.
P. 314: Is there some reason why we needed to hear what all these characters are ordering for supper?
P. 322: "But should this history be continued..." I don't suppose you're planning to stop? Probably not, as the novel has nearly two hundred pages more to go.
P. 330: The chapter heading reads "Charles' Intimacy with Eugenia, and Correspondence on Calvinism and Arminianism." Finally, some...romance? I mean, in this novel, exchanging epistles on Calvinism and Arminianism is about as close as you're going to get to passionate love letters.
P. 330: Eh. Charles is only feeing "filial and fraternal love." (On the "filial" bit: this woman is six years older than Charles. Six years.)
P. 331: This novel is set "thirty years" before publication. So the action must be taking place in 1807, despite evidence that it may also be taking place in 1788, 1797-1800, and, for that matter, 1808.
P. 331: Calvinism vs. Arminianism is the hot topic of the day, says the author.
P. 332: Thumbs up for Calvinism; thumbs down for Arminianism. (This is everyday Calvinism we're talking about, not the High variety.)
P. 334: "Possibly the reader has had enough..." Errrrm. Let me get back to you.
P. 334: Charles and Eugenia agree on the relative merits of the two systems. Surely they're destined for some romantic interlude?
P. 343: Now the chapter heading tells us that Charles is about to make Eugenia a "proposal." A proposal?! Goshgollygeewhillikers!
P. 352: ....and she refuses him. So much for that.
P. 355: Of course, she could be changing her mind.
P. 356: From a refusal to smooching. In four pages, no less.
And on this (relatively) romantic (sort of) note, until next time...