[personal profile] eub
I've been reading public-domain books on my phone since it's portable and can be operated one-handed or set down zero-handed. This Fisher book I found while looking up a children's book she wrote, Understood Betsy, which turned up in a Metafilter recommendations thread. I'd rate it "eh", readable but as "orphan girl goes to live at a farm" books go it's no Anne of Green Gables, tone rather too supercilious. I am curious whether there are a lot of books in that genre, or if L.M.M. had read this one.

Speaking of which, Dorothy Dunnett's Crawford is surely a descendent of Stevenson's Master of Ballantrae, is he not? If Dunnett liked the Master's character, found him just too antiheroic to write, and decided to leaven him a bit, I would not be a bit surprised.

Protip! Particularly for older texts (or older printings?), Google often describes their scan of a particular book as "page images" and not "flowing text". Often this is false modesty. For most books described that way, there actually *is* "flowing text", with some recognition errors, but perfectly readable, and much easier than the page images. Just a few books so far really are page images only, sadly including the Century Dictionary and Hardwicke's Science-Gossip.

What are your favorite pre-Mickey-Mouse books?

Date: 2011-07-08 11:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] houseboatonstyx.livejournal.com
Well, for one thing, there were more orphans in those days, and more farms. But I'd put _Understood Betsy_ (which I thought manipulative and almost abusive) in a category of 'child gets "reformed" by a different culture", along with _Captains Courageous_.

As for other public domain books, yummy! All of Montgomery, all the Oz books, Tarzan, Anthony Hope, E. Nesbit, Chesterton....

Date: 2011-07-09 08:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eub.livejournal.com
Good point, Betsy's not "orphaned as convenient narrative opening", her defining characteristic is that she was mis-raised by Aunt Whatsit. (Manipulative within the frame of the narrative, or by the author?)

Anthony Hope I have never heard of... oh, /Prisoner of Zenda/! Good idea.

Nesbit wrote non-children's books? I don't know why that should surprise me. Let's try /The Incomplete Amorist/.

I have never actually read a Tarzan book, only vague memories of the vine-yodeling TV cartoon. Can they still be read nowadays? I'll see.

Thank you for your comment!

Date: 2011-07-09 11:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] houseboatonstyx.livejournal.com
Imo the farm family were manipulative toward Betsy. It's been a while, so I don't remember all the instances (I was trying to enjoy the story, which was very well written, so I tried not to look too closely). They didn't tell her in advance that they wanted her to go to school the first day. They made a fool of her about the city street paving; other near abusive things like that. The ending with Aunt Whatsit was very well done, though.

Another of that "child gets reformed" genre was Burnett's THE SECRET GARDEN. At least, it started out that way. Mary was 'spoiled' by having a maid in India, the English mansion servants wouldn't go along, she was exposed to the healthy peasant family -- but she ended up reforming the whole mansion household, good for her. (Invalid in a dark room gets cured by opening the curtains was another trope of the time.) (Suddenly I'm thinking of COLD COMFORT FARM, and sounding like Rushthatspeaks.)

I didn't know Nesbit wrote grownup books either. Must read. For grownup stuff of the period, try LADY WINDEMERE'S FAN. Wilde's fairy tale was good too.

Try the very first, TARZAN OF THE APES, unabridged. Perhaps after PRISONER OF ZENDA.

Date: 2011-07-11 03:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mh75.livejournal.com
Nesbit wrote adult books?

Date: 2011-07-08 12:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chaoticgoodnik.livejournal.com
Let's see ... I know I've read a bunch of stuff from Project Gutenberg but Dangerous Ages by Rose Macaulay is the only thing that immediately springs to mind. (More about it and Macaulay here.) A.A. Milne's The Red House Mystery is on there too.

I have a Project Gutenberg tag, though I didn't use it much. Some stuff I read at one point:

The Garden of the Plynck by Karle Wilson Baker

The Sword of Welleran and Other Stories by Lord Dunsany

Mike Fletcher by George Augustus Moore

Four Weird Tales by Algernon Blackwood

I wrote a rambling post about what I thought of them (with other things mixed in) here.

Date: 2011-07-08 12:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chaoticgoodnik.livejournal.com
Oh, and speaking of orphan girls who go to live at a farm, there's also Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin.

Date: 2011-07-09 08:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eub.livejournal.com
Thank you for all these. I'll read the Macaulay first, it sounds interesting, and I'm short on the more non-genre-y fiction.

Oh hey, I read /Rebecca of Sunnybrook/ as a kid but it didn't register as a book from that long ago. A good one for that mini-genre; added.

Date: 2011-07-09 12:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] houseboatonstyx.livejournal.com
Macaulay is wonderful. Especially TOLD BY AN IDIOT. I'd leave TOWERS OF TREBIZOND to the last, as it ends disappointingly (to me); POTTERISM did too.

Btw on the OP, Colette is probably still in copyright, but has that fin de siecle vibe. Who was it said "We are apres le deluge"?

Date: 2011-07-10 08:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eub.livejournal.com
Drat, Told By An Idiot is post-Mickey, so there's no ebook of it. Orphaned works should go live on a wholesome farm.

Date: 2011-07-08 04:53 pm (UTC)
blk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] blk
I recently enjoyed catching up on the Sherlock Holmes collection.

Date: 2011-07-09 08:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eub.livejournal.com
Good idea, and I see a good-quality scan too.

Date: 2011-07-08 05:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jinian.livejournal.com
You should be reading [livejournal.com profile] rushthatspeaks, who is reviewing a book a day for a year. Several have been public domain, and the reviews are highly entertaining in themselves.

I think all [livejournal.com profile] clew posts about any more is public domain stuff.

Date: 2011-07-09 08:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eub.livejournal.com
Thanks, I am now reading. And oops I had missed updating my feeds for clew's move to librarything.

Date: 2011-07-11 03:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mh75.livejournal.com
You're looking for public domain stuff, not kid stuff? I'm bad at the former, but if you want the latter i'm getting steadily better.

Date: 2011-07-11 09:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eub.livejournal.com
I was looking for public domain, but I'm also always interested in children's books.



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