Samuel Warren, Ten Thousand a Year (E. Littell, n.d.). American reprint in one volume of Warren's very long and very successful novel, first serialized in 1839, about legal machinations involving a will and an illegitimate son. (eBay)
Walter Besant, In Deacon's Orders/Mary Cholmondeley, Red Pottage (Garland, 1976). In the first novel, a young Christian goes to wrack and ruin, winding up in an American jail, while in the second, a woman falls in love with a man who turns out to have a terrible secret. Part of the "Novels of Faith and Doubt" series. (Amazon [secondhand])
The Month and Catholic Review, six vols., various (1874-90). Six volumes of this popular Catholic monthly, which included serial fiction. (eBay)
Francesco Manzini, The Fevered Novel from Balzac to Bernanos: Frenetic Catholicism in Crisis, Delirium, and Revolution (IGR, 2011). The significance of the suffering woman for 19th- and early 20th-century French Catholic fiction. (Amazon [secondhand])
Gareth Atkins, ed., Making and Remaking Saints in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Manchester, 2016). A series of case studies devoted to nineteenth-century appropriations of, lectures on, and hagiographies devoted to various saints, from Paul to Therese of Lisieux. (Amazon [secondhand])
Favorite historical novels: Annamarie Jagose, Slow Water; Graeme Macrae Burnet, His Bloody Project; Ian McGuire, The North Water; Robin Jenkins, The Awakening of George Darroch; Harry Tait, The Ballad of Sawney Bain; Lloyd Shepherd, The Detective and the Devil.
Favorite short story collections: China Mieville, Three Moments of an Explosion; Barbey d’Aurevilly, Les Diaboliques (The She-Devils).
Favorite genre anthologies: Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger, eds., Echoes of Sherlock Holmes; Ellen Datlow, ed., Children of Lovecraft.
Snarkiest historical novel: Dario Fo, The Pope’s Daughter.
Least convincingly unretired detective: Inspector Rebus. I mean, I understand why Rankin has decided to keep writing this series, but really.
You learn something new…: I hadn’t realized there was a collection of Ernest Dowson’s short stories out there.
Most interesting older work of scholarship: Richard Griffith’s The Reactionary Revolution (1966).
Most interesting monograph not in my field: Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison, Objectivity.
Most important monograph on Catholicism and Victorian literature that nobody is citing because it’s written in French: Claire Masurel-Murray’s Le calice vide : l'imaginaire catholique dans la littérature décadente anglaise. Seriously. It came out in 2011 and has only been cited twice--by other French scholars. If you’re at all interested in these topics (Catholicism and literature; the Decadents; Catholicism and the Decadents) this absolutely ought to be at the top of your reading list.
Most bloodthirsty take on Jane Eyre: Lyndsay Faye, Jane Steele.
Most puzzling tendency in Jane Eyre rewrites: Marrying the Jane stand-in off to her Rochester equivalent, when the rewrite has otherwise made pseudo-Rochester pretty repellent.
Most successful Sherlock Holmes mashup: James Lovegrove, Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows (Cthulhu universe).
Most successful Sherlock Holmes parody: G. S. Denning’s Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone.
Best potshot at Arthur Conan Doyle: E. O. Higgins, Conversing with Spirits.
Needs more gore: Surely a mashup of Sherlock Holmes and Clive Barker’s Hellraiser universe ought to be “ow-ier”?
Most successful Lovecraft rewrite: Victor Lavelle, The Ballad of Black Tom.
I suppose there’s no use in renewing my annual plea, but yet again: WE DON’T NEED ANY MORE JACK THE RIPPER NOVELS. OR JACK THE RIPPER SHORT STORIES. OR JACK THE RIPPER MASHUPS. REALLY, WE DON’T. PLEASE WRITE ABOUT CUTE KITTIES AND BUNNIES INSTEAD.
Most atypically good-natured novel by Zola: La Rêve (The Dream).
Best nineteenth-century religious novels: Léon Bloy, La Femme Pauvre (The Woman Who Was Poor); Margaret Deland, John Ward, Preacher; Maxwell Gray, The Silence of Dean Maitland.
Nineteenth-century religious novel that seems least like a novel: J. K. Huysmans, Les Foules de Lourdes (The Crowds of Lourdes).
Most gruesome moment in a religious novel: In Bloy’s Le Désespéré (The Despairing), a former prostitute deliberately renders herself unattractive by, among other things, having all of her teeth removed, an event described in some detail.
Crankiest nineteenth-century religious novel: Edmond Randolph, Mostly Fools.
Religious novel with the most recognizable stand-in for Herbert Spencer: Robert Buchanan’s Foxglove Manor.
Religious novelist who makes Thomas Hardy seem bubbly, optimistic, and positively jovial by comparison: Léon Bloy.
Anti-Catholic novel with the weirdest afterlife: Ethel Voynich’s The Gadfly, which was a big bestseller in…mid-twentieth century Russia.
Most dismaying scholarly moment: When I realized that there was another novel by E. H. Dering (a.k.a. Leading Competitor for Worst Religious Novelist of the Nineteenth Century) out there. Noooooo.
Most repetitive nineteenth-century religious novelist: E. H. Dering, besides being bad, only seems to have had one plot.
Best Victorian deconstruction of George Eliot: John Oliver Hobbes, Some Emotions and a Moral.
Novel that prompted my students to ask “What the ?!#* was that?”: Hardy, Jude the Obscure (you can guess which scene).
Novel that presumably would prompt my students to ask “What the ?!#* was that?” were I to teach it: J. K. Huysmans, Là-Bas (Down There).
Novel with which my students had the most fun: Scott G. F. Bailey, The Astrologer.
Best novel reread for class: James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain.
Most antiquarian acquisition: A first edition of J. G. Lockhart’s triple-decker Valerius: A Roman Story (1821).
I’ve been looking for an affordable copy of this for years: Desmond Bowen, The Protestant Crusade; idem, Paul Cardinal Cullen and the Shaping of Modern Irish Catholicism.
Most aggravating postal delay: After several weeks, a copy of Francesco Manzini’s The Fevered Novel from Balzac to Bernanos arrived…a few hours after I submitted the article for which I had ordered the book in the first place. Ah, well, there are always revisions…
Desperate plea: Dear Oxford University Press: please stop publishing books in teensy-weensy font sizes. My hypermyopic eyes thank you.
Thank you: To Purdue University’s library for dumping its set of “Novels of Faith and Doubt,” most volumes of which have now migrated to my bookshelves.
George Moore, Evelyn Innes, 2 vols. (Tauchnitz,). A young singer finds herself torn between the attentions of two men, before finally taking refuge in her Catholicism.
---, Sister Teresa (Lippincott, 1901). Sequel to Evelyn Innes. Evelyn enters a convent, but soon finds herself struggling with her vocation and with her belief in the Real Presence.
Ernest Dowson, The Stories of Ernest Dowson, ed. Mark Longaker (A. B. Barnes, 1960). Reprint of Longaker's 1947 edition of Dowson's short fiction and vignettes.
"Rita" [Eliza Humphreys], Faustine (Lippincott, 1883). A sensational novel set in France, involving an actress, star-crossed lovers, and an intriguing priest.
Dinah Mulock, The Woman's Kingdom. A Love Story (Harper, 1902). The contrasting fates of twin sisters with very different attitudes to love and marriage. Originally serialized in 1868.
Thomas Keneally, Napoleon's Last Stand(Atria, 2016). Historical novel about Napoleon's relationship with a young girl, Betsy Balcombe, while imprisoned on St. Helena.
Gene Kellogg, The Vital Tradition: The Catholic Novel in a Period of Convergence (Loyola University Press, 1970). Nineteenth- and twentieth-century Catholic fiction on the Continent and in the United States.
Anna Hanson Dorsey, Tears on the Diadem (Kenedy, 1896). Catholic historical novel about Elizabeth Woodville, later wife of King Edward IV. (eBay)
Remy de Gourmont, The Angels of Perversity, trans. Francis Amery (Dedalus, 1992). Collection of Symbolist short fiction and a novella by the late 19th-c. critic, poet, and novelist. (Amazon [secondhand])
Claire Masurel-Murray, Le Calice Vide: L'Imaginaire Catholique dans la Litterature Decadente Anglaise (Sorbonne, 2011). Returns to the subject matter of Ellis Hanson's Decadence and Catholicism, but focusing on the specifically English context (Hanson mostly engages with French authors). (Amazon France)
Joep Leerssen, Remembrance and Imagination: Patterns in the Historical and Literary Representation of Ireland in the Nineteenth Century (Cork, 1996). Representations from different religious and political positions, as well as in different genres (history, ballad, folklore, novel, etc.). (Amazon [secondhand])
Gene Kellogg, The Vital Tradition: The Catholic Novel in a Period of Convergence (Loyola, 1970). Important older survey of the 19th- and 20th-c. Catholic novel tradition in France, England, and the United States. (Amazon [secondhand])
Theodore P. Fraser, The Modern Catholic Novel in Europe (Twayne, 1994). Same topic as above, only with more Europe (Scandinavia and Germany) and less USA. (Amazon [secondhand])
Thomas Woodman, Faithful Fictions: The Catholic Novel in British Literature (Open University Press, 1991). Still same topic, only all Britain and no Europe (or USA). (Amazon [secondhand])
J.G. Lockhart, Valerius: A Roman Story (Blackwood, 1821). Three-volume first edition of this historical novel by Sir Walter Scott's son-in-law (best known for his biography of Scott). (eBay)
Emile Zola,The Dream, trans. Michael Glencross (Peter Owen, 2005). Part of the Rougon-Macquart cycle. A young woman in love with a wealthy man finds herself inspired by saints' lives. (Amazon [secondhand])
David Blackbourn, Marpingen: Apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Nineteenth-Century Germany (Knopf, 1994). Studies the phenomenon of Marian apparitions via reports of events at Marpingen in 1876. (Amazon [secondhand])
Michael Wilks, ed., Prophecy and Eschatology (Blackwell, 1994). Collection of essays on apocalyptics, Biblical commentary, Biblical chronology, etc. (Amazon)
J. M. Neale, Tales Illustrative of the Apostles' Creed (John Masters, 1862). Example of one subgenre of religious fiction: the short-story sequence designed to break down creed, prayers, etc. into manageable chunks. More about Neale here. (eBay)
Robert Pollok, Helen of the Glen (Robert Carter, 1841). Two Covenanter orphans grow up and face various temptations, until the sister (of course) manages to bring her brother back to the right path on her deathbed. (eBay)
Gabriele d'Annunzio, Pleasure, trans. Lara Gochin Raffaelli (Penguin, 2013). New translation of d'Annunzio's 1898 novel, following the decadent adventures of a womanizing Italian aristocrat. (Amazon)
Dominique Fortier, On the Proper Use of Stars, trans. Sheila Fischman (Emblem, 2008). Historical novel about the doomed Franklin expedition, moving back and forth between Sir John Franklin's experiences and his wife's. (Amazon [secondhand])
Diane Hoeveler and Deborah Morse, eds., A Companion to the Brontes (Blackwell, 2016). A...companion to the Brontes, in which I have an essay. (Contributor's copy)
Richard Griffiths, The Reactionary Revolution: The Catholic Revival in French Literature, 1870-1914 (Constable, 1966). Study of the development of a self-consciously elite Catholic literary culture in late nineteenth-century France. (Amazon [secondhand])