The November 21st issue of The New Yorker had a poem about Ouida by Christopher Stace, in case any of you missed it.

On First Seeing Ouida’s Tomb at Bagni de Lucca

Nature she knew by heart; on birds and flowers

She could discourse for hours and hours and hours.

Sententious, sentimental, repetitious, she

Would never choose one word if there were three.

Pith was her weakness; clichés were her strength.

And here she lies now, as she wrote, at length.

Now, I’ve only read The Moths, but it strikes me that the bits about boring nature writing, sentiment, and length are more clichés about the Victorian novel than actually applicable to Ouida herself.  The descriptions of high society, make-up and fashion in The Moths (not to mention sordid affairs with opera singers) seemed pretty fast-paced to me.  I also wondered how many typical readers would know who Ouida was.  (My informal survey revealed that 3 out of 3 PhDs in other areas had no idea.)  What do you think?

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One thought on “Ouida

  1. Agreed. Under Two Flags is a rousing adventure which was a successful movie, and was popular enough in the early 20th century to become a Classics comic book. The last line is pretty good though.

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