There’s nothing like reading dreary novels to see if you just might write on them. I’m thinking I need a chapter on sensation novels and China, but problem is, I haven’t read any of the sensation novels that have China in them. So I’m starting with Charles Reade’s Hard Cash, serialized as Very Hard Cash (1863ish), which Google Books informs me is partly set in China. The first 150 pages were pretty tough going. I think Reade wins some kind of asshat award. Here’s a random helpful footnote:

Perhaps even this faint attempt at self-analysis was due to the influence of Dr. Whately [author of a Logic book the character’s reading to help her Oxonian brother]. For, by nature, young ladies of this age seldom turn the eye inward.

And, while all the manly men are sailing their ships and fighting pirates, there’s of course an annoying lady on deck, and some amazing (ahem) prose:

[B]eneath a purple heaven shone, sparkled, and laughed a blue sea, in whose waves the tropical sun seemed to have fused his beams; and beneath that fair, sinless, peaceful sky, wafted by a balmy breeze over those smiling, transparent, golden waves, a bloodthirsty Pirate bore down on them with a crew of human tigers; and a lady babble babble babble babble babble babble babbled in their quivering ears.

Oh, the joys of being a Victorianist!

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