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Category archive for: The Bookshelf

North and South: ‘A little fierce incendiary’

By Vanessa Pupavac

‘Church and King, and down with the Rump!’ So toasts the aristocratic grandfather in Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel North and South. (http://books.wwnorton.com/books/North-and-South/ ) But Gaskell’s 1855 novel engages with building a modern industrial nation, and specifically rejects the political and social order embodied in the old Cavalier anti-parliamentary toast. Her engagement with the challenges posed by industrialisation has insights for today’s global North-South relations and their future direction. Consider the current civil unrest in Hong Kong (http://libcom.org/black-yellow-hk), or the growing strikes in China questioning the official representation of the harmonious society (https://www.jacobinmag.com/2012/08/china-in-revolt/). This month’s opening of the newly restored Elizabeth Gaskell House (http://www.elizabethgaskellhouse.co.uk/) is therefore a good time to open North and South to more readers. What is to be found there? Gaskell’s plot has strong parallels with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, where a parson’s daughter from the South of England overcomes her prejudices towards a factory owner from the smoky industrial town of Milton in Darkshire.

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