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November 19, 2009

On Longing: Bugs and the Victorians

After reading this review in the LRB, I am dying to read Bugs and the Victorians. My own interest in literary entomology (because believe it or not, I’ve got one!) arose via Virginia Woolf, who wrote about bugs a lot, and also wrote a wonderful fictionalized biographical sketch of Eleanor Ormerod in The First Common Reader. Ormerod was Britain’s foremost entomologist during the late 19th century, which was a very important kind of scientist to be at that time, and that she was a woman is only one of the many remarkable things about her. She’s mentioned in the LRB review, along with various surprising ways the study of insects influenced Victorian society.

Anyway, the book also happens to be $55, so I don’t imagine I’ll be reading it anytime soon.

7 thoughts on “On Longing: Bugs and the Victorians”

  1. Randy Banderob says:

    I enjoyed the ant connections made by A.S. Byatt in her Victorian Period (I think) Morpho Eugenia which was made into the very weird but equally interesting film Angels and Insects which had a very cool moth scene.

    I never realized that this was recurrent in Victorian life.

  2. Melanie says:

    Despite how much I personally dislike bugs, this books actually sounds very intriguing. Of course, being about the Victorians and bugs could be the reason why it appeals!

    But unfortunately,now all I can think of is "I'm an entomologist. Insects are my world." (Gordon Korman's maleficent influence…)

  3. Kerry says:

    I don't remember the Gordon Korman reference. Did it have something to do with Elmer Drimsdale? Were bugs his world?

  4. BabelBabe says:

    somebody beat me to the AS Byatt comment. but i think i've been clear how very much I adore her : )
    i feel like Andrea Barrett has done something with this theme too but can't for the life of me figure out which book…

  5. Kerry says:

    Andrea Barrett's story collection Servants of the Map– wonderful!

  6. Melanie says:

    Yes, Andrea Barrett's collection is fantastic as well! Love her.

    And you got in one, Kerry. Elmer Drimsdale's world was indeed bugs!

    Unrelated but amusing: the verification word I'm getting is "nounify".

  7. BabelBabe says:

    i own and have read everything Barrett has written – Voyage of the Narwhal is my fav. But both her story collections are incredible.

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