Insult of the Week: Fops

From one gendered insult to another: this week we’re looking at literary fops, or gentlemen that are – in some way or another – a bit too concerned with manners of dress, elegance and fashion. Our featured image (by the wonderful C. E. Brock) comes from John Galt’s 1821 novel The Annals of the Parish…

A Net of Influence: interreference between 18th and 19th-century novels

As a taster of the content that’s going up on our shiny new website, here’s an image that I put together earlier: This, as you can probably tell, is a draft version, but what it shows is a map of interreference between novels and novelists in our corpus. Writers, unsurprisingly, are generally people who enjoy…

Coxcombs and Foppish Haircuts

In chapter 25 of Jane Austen’s Emma, the titular character is somewhat perplexed by Frank Churchill’s “foppish” decision to travel sixteen miles for some nineteenth-century “manscaping”. “Emma’s very good opinion of Frank Churchill was a little shaken the following day, by hearing that he was gone off to London, merely to have his hair cut. A sudden freak seemed…

Insult of the Week: you confounded fools

Middlemarch‘s Fred Vincy momentarily loses the run of himself while intervening in a local territorial skirmish: “What do you confounded fools mean?” shouted Fred, pursuing the divided group in a zigzag, and cutting right and left with his whip. “I’ll swear to every one of you before the magistrate. You’ve knocked the lad down and…

A disappointing lack of Easter eggs

In our novels, relatively little happens at Easter, although it’s mentioned incidentally quite a bit, generally as a marker of the passage of time – things are due to happen before or after Easter but rarely take place on the holiday itself. One of the few mentions of anything actually taking place during Easter is…