Group Response to Cranford VI

I have to admit that between school and work I fell behind on the readings and ended up reading the fifth and sixth installment of Cranford all at once. I noticed that in doing this I became more familiar with characters who do not have a major role throughout the series (e.g. Signor Brunoni). I have a hard time giving my full attention to a book or TV show or movie, so I often find myself loosing track of characters who have appeared briefly at a previous time like Mr. Hoggins. I wonder if it is the episodic nature of the text that causes me to forget minor characters. Would those reading in the Victorian era also forget characters that only be introduced briefly in past installments?

In this installment it struck me how often other literature is quoted or referenced in the fictional world of Cranford. What stood out to me was the narrator reading out loud from the St. James Chronicle (Gaskell 169). I have always experienced reading as a solo activity, other than reading to children. The realization of reading gave me the picture of the modern day TV viewing party, where a group of friends will get together weekly to watch an episode of series together. I like to think that there would be groups of people in the Victorian era who would eagerly await the release of a new installment of their favorite series and then have a reading party.  The idea of reading as a group activity is something that is entirely new to me. I know book clubs exist but it’s only small passages of a book that are read out loud, not a whole book or chapter. I seem to hold on to a belief that being read to or reading to someone is a juvenile activity that occurs in classrooms or with picture books.  The idea of reading together being a mature activity has caused me to think about how a room full of readers would react to Cranford in real time: laugh out loud, gasp or be in shock.  I don’t think I actually have the patience to enjoy reading a whole installment out loud, but it has given a new perspective to how Cranford may have originally been read.

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