Elizabeth Gaskell's comic portrait of early Victorian life in a country town describes with poignant wit the uneventful lives of its lady-like inhabitants, offering an ironic commentary on the separate spheres and diverse experiences of men and women. As the external world necessarily impinges even on Cranford, the unlikely juxtapositions of old and new brought about by the pace of change are also explored: the effects of Victorian commerce and imperial expansion co-exist with the survival of customs and habits of thought from much earlier times.
This critically up-to-date edition includes Gaskell's essay "The Last Generation in England", containing reminiscences of her childhood in Knutsford, and the comic story "The Cage at Cranford", as well as a lucid new introduction that discusses the originality and subtlety of Gaskell's portrayal of women's experience.
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