When last we saw our heroes (and heroine), love was in the air. But will it survive this novel?
P. 358: ...and the chapter heading includes "Rev. Mr. Bredwell's Happy Death." Perhaps there's hope for our lovers after all.
P. 358: Oh, dear--not everybody thinks that Eugenia is an appropriate match.
P. 360: Oh, dear, part II--Eugenia is beginning to think that her "age" is an obstacle.
Incidentally, a year has passed in the past couple of pages.
P. 368: Now that we've had a pleasant dinner, it's time to discuss burning forever in Hell.
P. 372: I suppose quoting Wordsworth is an agreeable diversion from quoting Thomas Campbell.
P. 372: And now this novel is taking place "thirty-five years ago," which puts the action in 1802 (or 1803, given the aforementioned year). Help! I've fallen through a rift in the space-time continuum! The very laws of temporality have shattered!
P. 373: ZOMBIE ALERT! ZOMBIE ALERT! A character quotes a poem published in the mid-1830s. Now virtually all of the real-life characters are officially undead, including Thomas Scott (d. 1821).
Wait. Perhaps the author is himself a zombie? This would explain so much!
Pp. 377-79: Long quotation from Southey (of all the people to quote at length!), but at least the novelist remembers to note that it was published after the events of the novel.
P. 393: No. NO. NOOOOO! Not another quotation from Campbell's The Pleasures of Hope! Abandon all hope, ye who quote here...
I've got it: the novelist is Thomas Campbell. An undead Thomas Campbell. Seeking to maintain his legacy by repeatedly excerpting himself in this, er, immortal text.
P. 394-95: You quote Campbell! I quote Pope! You quote Shakespeare! I misquote Thomas Gray! It's the Battle of the Network Poets!
P. 405: Alas, the lovers decide to relinquish each other, lest Charles become sick of having a wife six years older than himself. After all, he can't help but "reverence her as a parent" (404).
I was unaware that children could become parents at the age of six, but am willing to be enlightened.
P. 410: Man, that Charles is overcoming disappointment right quick. Already on to the next girl, eh?
P. 416: The undead Thomas Scott crops up, advising Charles to take a rather large parish. No doubt because of the ample supply of brains.
P. 429: The Methodist bogeyman rises again. Ecumenicism is not this novel's thing.
P. 444: Another three years have passed, so it must be at least 1811 or 1812 by now.
P. 449: Except that now we have a letter dated 1805. Surely the author is having us on. Or maybe the copyeditor was having the author on. Or...
P. 457: Time for a lecture on geology.
P. 459: Got catastrophism?
P. 460: Eleven pages later, it's 1806. Time sure flies in this novel. It flies forwards, backwards...
P. 463: Are we attacking High Calvinists again?
P. 474: Apparently, we also need to have a go at the Particular Baptists while we're at it.
P. 476: Whoa. Antinomianism leads to playing pranks with the church bells, and then dying when a bell falls on top of you. I'll bear this in mind.
It occurs to me that the novelist has long since forgotten his original point, which explains why I myself only remembered it just now.
Pp. 488-94: Mortgages are evil, in case you're wondering. And don't take out loans.
P. 509: OK, six years have passed since Charles left to take up his curacy. I won't even ask what year this is supposed to be.
P. 518: And eleven years since the beginning of the novel.
P. 519: Wait--we're not even going to make it to Charles' next marriage proposal? That's it?! Talk about screeching to a halt.
P. 519: "Should the reader wish to hear of the Oxford Students, after leaving college, and to peruse the chequered events of their riper years, when they became settled and married, and the fathers of families, and vicars and rectors, they must call for the Second Series of 'Truth without Fiction;' or, 'The Oxonians after leaving College.'" Ha-ha! Good one, there!
...You mean you're serious? Oh, my.