Goudge, Elizabeth: Green Dolphin Street
(researched by Lisa Pagano)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Elizabeth Goudge. Green Dolphin Street. New York: Coward-McCann, Inc., 1944. Copyright 1944 by Elizabeth Goudge
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
American Edition is published in trade cloth
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
259 leaves, pp. [2] [i-iix] ix [x] [1] 2-502 [2]
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
Author's Note at the beginning, describing the characters and story as "based on fact," and apologizing for any lack of veracity in the author's description of New Zealand. Also included is a quote by Evelyn Underhill, introducing the work, and defining the "three deep cravings of the self."
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
NA
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
The pages are 19.5 cm long and 13 cm wide, with the text running at 17 cm long and 12 cm wide. This is due to the wartime paper restrictions in effect during the book's publication, and results in a very "full" page, densly worded with small margins. The text is 82R and it is serif.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
The pages of the book are of wove paper, which is extremely thin, due again to the wartime paper restrictions. The paper has yellowed quite a bit, and is stained along the tops of the first quarter of the book, with stains also along the bottom of the pages, and sporadically throughout the book. Other than the discoloration the book seems to be in good condition, with few tears and signs of heavy usage. The endpapers are particularly stained and faded, they are now a light grey color, and are turning yellow around the edges.
11 Description of binding(s)
The binding is of dotted line grain, and is a brick red color. There is no dust jacket and the front and back covers are not marked in any way. The spine of the book is stamped in gilt and reads: | GREEN | DOLPHIN | STREET | ----- | GOUDGE | The books binding seems to be quite worn, with fading on the front and back covers and especially along the edges of the spine, the corners of the book and the base and top of the spine. The corners of the book are bent slightly inward and the binding has started to come off of the bottom front corner of the book, exposing the material underneath.
12 Transcription of title page
Recto: GREEN | DOLPHIN | STREET | A Novel by | ELIZABETH GOUDGE | COWARD-McCANN, INC. | NEW YORK Verso: | Copyright 1944 by Elizabeth Goudge | All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, must | not be reproduced in any form without permission. | Third Impression | Government wartime restrictions on materials have made it essential | that the amount of paper used in each book be reduced to a minimum. | This volume is printed on lighter paper than would have been used | before material limitations became necessary, and the number of words | on each page has been substantially increased. The smaller bulk in no | way indicates that the text has been shortened. | Manufactured in | the United States of America |
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
The front inside cover has a sticker on it reading, | LIBRARY OF THE | UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA | PRESENTED BY | Mrs. Elizabeth Hill Beard | Between where it says "The University of Virginia" and "Presented by" is a large blue seal of the University, which states "University of Virginia 1819" and has a woman dressed in Roman or Greek fashion holding some sort of branches and a horn full of food. The verso of the title page has little holes punched through it forming "UV" and above that it states: |PR | 6013 | .074G7 | 1944 | 462356 | Copy 2 | The "462356" is stamped in blue ink, and the rest is handwritten in pencil. The right upper corner of the verso of the title page is stamped in faded black ink: |GIFT | OCT 4 '48 |; Probably refering to Mrs. Elizabeth Hill Beard's presentation of the book to UVA's Library
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
1944 - Book Club Edition, 502p. 21cm 1944 - Book Club Edition (Best seller library), 498 p. 22cm 1944 - Reprinting, 345 p. 21cm
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
There were at least ten impressions of the first edition. My first edition was a third impression, and I located a Tenth Impression through Alibris, an online used bookstore.
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
1944 - Popular Library, Eagle Books, NY Editions for the Armed Services (Armed Services ed. S-39), NY Hodder and Stoughton, London [as _Green Dolphin Country_] P.F. Collier, NY Pyramid Books, NY Sun Dial Press, Garden City, NY Hodder & Stoughton limited, Toronto International Collectors Library, Garden City, NY Lancer Books, NY 1946 - Sun Dial Press, Garden City, NY 1952 - Permabooks, Garden City, NY 1968 - Hodder and Stoughton, London [As _Green Dolphin Country_] 1973 - Pyramid Books, NY 1976 - Pyramid Books, NY 1989 - Coronet, London [as _Green Dolphin Country_]
6 Last date in print?
My research suggests that the last publication of _Green Dolphin Street_ was in 1989, under its British title, _Green Dolphin Country_. As of February, 2000, it was no longer in print to the best of my knowledge.
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
At least 1,425,000 copies were sold by the original publisher, according to Hackett's 80 Years of Bestsellers.
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
NA
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
This is from the NY Times, Sept. 10, 1944, I found it through mention of it in Publishers Weekly: Coward-McCann, Inc. | THE WINNER OF THE | $125,000 | METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER | ANNUAL NOVEL AWARD | [large picture of the cover of the novel, saying, on the cover: |GREEN | Dolphin | STREET | Elizabeth Goudge |; the spine reads: | GREEN | Dolphin | STREET | ELIZABETH GOUDGE | COWARD | MCCANN |] |EIZABETH GOUDGE | in GREEN DOLPHIN STREET | displays as never before her ability to tell a story that trans- | ports its readers to an enchanted world. | | "Some readers may see in [italics:] Green Dolphin Street [close italics] a solution to | their own problems; some may see in [italics:] Green Dolphin Street [close italics] a | love story of rare spirituality; others may read it for the color- | ful story of adventure, but all will find it a book that has charm | and distinction, a story of unusual appeal and interest -- a novel | out of the ordinary." --John Beecroft, [italics:] Wings [close italics] | [italics:] The September Selection of the Literary Guild [close italics] $3.00 [italics] at all book stores [close italics]
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
MGM advertisement for the book.
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
1947 - Green Dolphin Street, MGM/UA Motion Picture Black and White, with sound, 141 min. Directed by Victor Saville; produced by Carey Wilson. Starring Lana Turner, Van Heflin, donna Reed, Richart Hart. Description: "Two beautiful daughters of a wealthy merchang fall in love with the same man. He goes abroad to seek his fortune, and drunkenly addresses his proposal to the wrong sister."--from the synopsis in Worldcat Released Videocassette - 1986, 1991 Released Videodisc - 1992 ?,1970, 1979 - a sound recording was released from a radio play preformed by Lux Radio Theater, starring Lana Turner, Peter Lawford and Van Heflin, adapted from the MGM film.
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
Le pays du Dauphin vert. Editions Recontre, Paris: 1970. (French) Le pays du Dauphin vert. Plon, Paris: 1946 1970 1979. (French) Der grune Delphin : Roman. Morgarten-Verlag, Zurich: 1945. (German) Der grune Delphin : Roman. Deutsche Buch-Gemeinschaft. Berlin: 1957. (German) Der grune Delphin : Roman. Herder, Freiburg : 1978 Il delfino verde. Bompiani, Milano: 1948 1982. (Italian)
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
NA
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
NA
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
Elizabeth de Beauchamp Goudge was born on April 24, 1900. Her father, Henry Leighton Goudge was a Vice-Principal of the Theological College in Wells, Somerset England, at the time of her birth. Her mother, Ida de Beauchamp Collenette Goudge, was from Guernsey in the Channel Islands. In her autobiography, The Joy of Snow, Goudge says that her mother spoiled her tremendously because she feared they would soon be parted, due to Ida Goudge's perpetual illness (which was caused by a bicycle accident, followed too soon by Goudge's birth (48)); "And so that child was and is a neurotic selfish little beast. I say she is for she is with me still. All my life I have been waging war with her. I have a dim hope that I may get rid of her before I die, but it is very dim" (99). Goudge's first novel, Island Magic, was set in Guernsey, and it is primarily about her mother, and grandparents, according to her autobiography. Guernsey was also the setting for most of Goudge's summers, as a child, and in The Joy of Snow, she reveals how important her grandparents and aunts on her mother's side were to her childhood. Because Henry Goudge was a priest in the Church of England, he moved his family several times in Goudge's life. They lived in Wells, Somerset, England when he served at Wells Cathedral, then in Ely, where he had a canonry at Ely Cathedral, and a Prinicpalship at the Theological College. After Ely, the family moved to Oxford, where her father was appointed Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford. It was while her father was at Oxford that he died. After Henry Goudge's death, Goudge and her mother moved to Devon, and following her mother's death, Goudge relocated to Oxfordshire, where she lived in a sixteenth century house called Rose Cottage until her death in 1984. Goudge went to boarding school, after having avoided gaining an education from her governess, when she was 14, and according to her autobiography, "the outbreak of war and my departure for boarding school coincided. Personally, since I had no brothers and the young me I knew had made little impression on my immature and selfish heart, I am afraid I found the latter event the more distressing"(147). After boarding school Goudge attended Reading University Art School for two years, where she learned design and applied art (weaving, leather work, and embroidery), because, "her parents wanted to ensure the [sic] she had some marketable skills . . . Goudge earned her living by teaching design and applied art from home while living in Ely and Oxford," according to a web page on Elizabeth Goudge (http://spice.mhv.net/~KATEL/). Goudge's writing career began with the publication of Island Magic, by Gerald Duckworth, who Goudge remembers affectionately in her autobiography. Her second "stepping stone" was provided by Nancy Pearn, a literary agent, who told her to begin slowly, in magazine publication, and not to rely too much on novels, for a while (229-230). Success for Goudge came with the publication of Green Dolphin Street, which is actually based on a true story, her great-uncle's. She says in her autobiography that she had been very unsure about the reception of her book: (which was, as she said in Contemporary Authors Online, "written under every possible adverse circumstance, some of it even coming into being in the middle of the night during an air raid (www.galenet.com).) "In the end finishing it nearly killed me, and when my literary agent warned me that under wartime conditions with paper so short, it was more than likely it could not be published I tried to forget about my poor old Dolphin. I thought he might have to sink without a trace. And then came a cable from America telling me that my American publisher had sent the book in as a candidate for a Metro Goldwyn Mayer film prize of 30, 000 British pounds, and the old Dolphin had won it" (275). Goudge states that she had become a best seller "overnight." And according to her autobiography she had a difficult time dealing with that, because she "did not want to be a rich woman, and hoped [she] would succeed in never living as one." Green Dolphin Street brought her fame and income, in the amount of 4,000 British pounds after the initial taxes and fees had been applied to the original 30,000, but it also brought a flood of reporters, who she tried to avoid, and of letters, some pleading for financial aid she could not afford to give. She recounts, in her autobiography, having, "reached despair, picked up the whole bundle [of letters] and dumped it in the fire. That is something that," she says "will haunt me till my dying day (278-279). Goudge went on to write several more books for children and adults. Her other award winning novel was Little White Horse, that took the Carnegie Medal for outstanding children's book in 1947. She died on April 1, 1984, near Henley-on-Thames, England.
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
"It is tasty as a marshmallow, and practically written in Technicolor," said Time Magazine of Elizabeth Goudge's Green Dolphin Street. The other contemporary reviews of the novel seemed to agree with Times' analysis. Most agreed that Green Dolphin Street was well written, imaginative, and readable, only lacking in some way in each of their eyes. The New Yorker called it, "A soundly conceived, well-constructed historical tale, diligently supplemented by poetic observations that hit the reader with all the force of a wet sponge." And Harrison Smith, writing for the Saturday Review of Literature, wrote, "We can only hope that the enormous prize it has won will not induce its promoters to call it the greatest novel of the day." This was prefaced however, by his saying "The reader can only view this newest contender for best-selling honors with awe and respect, and wish it as many scores of thousands of readers as it can find, and finally as many breathless and emotionally damp audiences as the producer can draw into the movie theaters." Time and the Saturday Review's discussion of the movie version of the book in the book review was not unusual in the reviews, since Green Dolphin Street was published because it had won the MGM Award, and was to be promptly made into a movie. In fact, M. L. Becker, for the Weekly Book Review, wrote of the book, "A right romantic tale set in strange places, not without violence, crowded with real people, it moves from scene to scene through evocations of loveliness explicit as stage directions. To touch but one of them, Midsummer Day on the island provides not only an episode of vivid beauty but a moment such as a star might covet and every young woman in the audience desire." Beyond the film version, however, the quality of the book that most critics seemed to praise was the narrative descriptions that seemed to take on life in the book. William Du Bois wrote for the New York Times, "Most of the punches are telegraphed; like the author's view of life, they seem to come right out of the Victorian hope chest. But the few chapters dealing directly with St. Pierre are alive with beauty and a sense of the pictorial line and poetry of background. Miss Goudge writes from her heart when she describes these islands, as we can see from her fresh-tinted picture of Militia Day and the choosing of a village Flower Queen, or of the picnic that ends with Marguerite's climb to the convent." The critics also agreed on the result of the moral themes running through the novel. The New Yorker said, "[it] would have been more effective, and certainly more readable, had the author been more willing to let the moral implications of her story speak for themselves." The Times (London) agreed, calling the novel outside of the New Zealand scenes, "an undistinguished mixture of conventional romantic incident and a conventional moral piety." However, the Times adds an admiration for "the author's steady perseverance." All in all, Green Dolphin Street, to the critics at least, was as the Times put it, "lack[ing] the sterner virtues of good literature," but still enjoyable none the less. (Time referred to the entertainment value of the book with the "tasty as a marshmallow" quote mentioned above.) SOURCES: From a compilation of book reviews in BOOK REVIEW DIGEST 1944: 1. New York Times September 3, 1944: 5. (William Du Bois) 2. New Yorker September 2, 1944: 20:66. 3. Saturday Review of Literature August 26, 1944: 27:7. (Harrison Smith) 4. Time September 4, 1944. 44:95. 5. Times [London] Literary Supplement November, 18, 1944: 563. 6. Weekly Book Review August 27, 1944: 4. (M. L. Becker)
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
"It is tasty as a marshmallow, and practically written in Technicolor," said Time Magazine of Elizabeth Goudge's Green Dolphin Street. The other contemporary reviews of the novel seemed to agree with Times' analysis. Most agreed that Green Dolphin Street was well written, imaginative, and readable, only lacking in some way in each of their eyes. The New Yorker called it, "A soundly conceived, well-constructed historical tale, diligently supplemented by poetic observations that hit the reader with all the force of a wet sponge." And Harrison Smith, writing for the Saturday Review of Literature, wrote, "We can only hope that the enormous prize it has won will not induce its promoters to call it the greatest novel of the day." This was prefaced however, by his saying "The reader can only view this newest contender for best-selling honors with awe and respect, and wish it as many scores of thousands of readers as it can find, and finally as many breathless and emotionally damp audiences as the producer can draw into the movie theaters." Time and the Saturday Review's discussion of the movie version of the book in the book review was not unusual in the reviews, since Green Dolphin Street was published because it had won the MGM Award, and was to be promptly made into a movie. In fact, M. L. Becker, for the Weekly Book Review, wrote of the book, "A right romantic tale set in strange places, not without violence, crowded with real people, it moves from scene to scene through evocations of loveliness explicit as stage directions. To touch but one of them, Midsummer Day on the island provides not only an episode of vivid beauty but a moment such as a star might covet and every young woman in the audience desire." Beyond the film version, however, the quality of the book that most critics seemed to praise was the narrative descriptions that seemed to take on life in the book. William Du Bois wrote for the New York Times, "Most of the punches are telegraphed; like the author's view of life, they seem to come right out of the Victorian hope chest. But the few chapters dealing directly with St. Pierre are alive with beauty and a sense of the pictorial line and poetry of background. Miss Goudge writes from her heart when she describes these islands, as we can see from her fresh-tinted picture of Militia Day and the choosing of a village Flower Queen, or of the picnic that ends with Marguerite's climb to the convent." The critics also agreed on the result of the moral themes running through the novel. The New Yorker said, "[it] would have been more effective, and certainly more readable, had the author been more willing to let the moral implications of her story speak for themselves." The Times (London) agreed, calling the novel outside of the New Zealand scenes, "an undistinguished mixture of conventional romantic incident and a conventional moral piety." However, the Times adds an admiration for "the author's steady perseverance." All in all, Green Dolphin Street, to the critics at least, was as the Times put it, "lack[ing] the sterner virtues of good literature," but still enjoyable none the less. (Time referred to the entertainment value of the book with the "tasty as a marshmallow" quote mentioned above.) SOURCES: From a compilation of book reviews in BOOK REVIEW DIGEST 1944: 1. New York Times September 3, 1944: 5. (William Du Bois) 2. New Yorker September 2, 1944: 20:66. 3. Saturday Review of Literature August 26, 1944: 27:7. (Harrison Smith) 4. Time September 4, 1944. 44:95. 5. Times [London] Literary Supplement November, 18, 1944: 563. 6. Weekly Book Review August 27, 1944: 4. (M. L. Becker)
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
I chose Green Dolphin Street as my novel for research and review because I had read The Little White Horse, Elizabeth Goudge's best-known children's book when I was younger. In that sense I am not unlike the few that read this largely forgotten and currently (as of April 2000) out of print novel today, most of them found dusty copies by chance on their grandparents shelves. But, in 1944, Green Dolphin Street topped bestseller charts for enough time to be a yearly bestseller, and it tells us something about bestsellers. Green Dolphin Street is a best seller defined by its time, it is an example of the successful based-on-a-true-story formula, it fits into a popular genre, the historical romance, although not without some exceptions, and it straddles the line between "high" and "low" literature, commonly seen in bestsellers. Green Dolphin Street is an example of a bestseller that is defined by its time period. It was written and published during World War II. Its publication was possible, despite wartime paper shortages, because of a Metro Goldwyn Mayor Film prize. The author writes in her biography, The Joy of Snow, that Green Dolphin Street had grown very long because she had written it in pieces. And that "finishing it nearly killed [her] and when [her] literary agent warned [her] that under wartime conditions with paper so short it was more than likely it could not be published [she] tried to forget about [her] poor old Dolphin. [She] thought he might have to sink without a trace"(275). But because of the prize Green Dolphin Street was published and it became a bestseller the same year, 1944, as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Both books were published in Armed Forces Editions, special pocket sized editions of popular novels for military personnel serving abroad. Like A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, which portrayed "back home" to those serving abroad, Green Dolphin Street caught the hearts of American servicemen because it called up in them a feeling of national pride. The prize that it won was an American one, and the author recalls in her biography an American sailor stopping by to "express his pleasure that an English woman had won an American prize" (278). The book would also have been familiar to Americans reading it because, although it featured characters journeying to New Zealand, it still called up the American experience of colonizing distant lands. Books that induced feelings of national pride would have been popular during wartime because they served a need for high morale. Green Dolphin Street's religious and spiritual undertones echo the successful melding of religion and fiction found in another bestseller in 1944, The Robe. The spiritual undertones in both novels would have been appealing to a country engaged in war overseas. Green Dolphin Street, written as the countryside surrounding the author's home was bombed by German airplanes, describes a world a century removed from the conflict in Europe contemporaneous with the novel's publication. In one scene: The whole universe was stilled as though listening for a voice. For the space of one heartbeat there was peace on earth. For one fraction of a moment there was no dead of violence wrought on the earth, no hatred, no fire, no whirlwind, no pain, no fear. Existence rested against the heart of God, then sighed and journeyed again . . .In each of them there was an infinitesimal change. A moment that comes perhaps once in a thousand years had touched them in passing, and though the experience of perfection is feather light, it brands like fire. Only Marguerite spoke of it because only Marguerite knew what had happened. "It all stopped making a noise," she said. "And God said something in a small voice." (68) Such a passage must have been comforting to readers hearing daily of battles, and those actually out on the fronts in Germany, France, and in the Pacific, because it reminded them of what they were actually fighting for. In addition, the story, removed from conditions contemporary to World War II America by both time and setting, provided an escape from reality for readers. Fantasy novels, like Mary Stewart's Merlin trilogy, Robert Jordan's Lord of Chaos, and JK Rowlings' current best-selling Harry Potter series are popular because they provide a vehicle for removing a reader from their ordinary life. Green Dolphin Street is similar to those novels in its faraway setting and the brief mentions of ESP and supernatural communications between people great distances from one another. Although the novel is fantastical in nature, it features in its plot elements that would be familiar to most readers, two lovers separated by vast distances, a beautiful young woman, who, when her lover marries another, becomes a nun. Green Dolphin Street demonstrates then, that bestsellers are products of their times, they fulfill a demand made, perhaps subconsciously by readers. It shows us that novels which comfort, reassure, and take our minds off our difficulties in familiar ways become popular, and that bestsellers are not necessarily books which shock, make statements, or scandalize. Green Dolphin Street is also in a category of bestsellers characterized by their insistence that their plot, while fictionalized, is based on a true story. This category goes as far back as the eighteenth century, and early forms of literature like Daniel DeFoe's Roxanna. It tells us of our deep seeded interest in real occurrences, and our belief that if something really did happen it is worth reading about, or watching on television, as is the case with today's television docu-dramas. The note at the beginning of Green Dolphin Street is reminiscent of the forward to Roxanna, where the author, or in the case of Roxanna the narrator, establishes the fact that the book is based in reality as early in the book as possible. Goudge states in the first sentence of the note in the beginning of the novel, "though this book is fiction, and the characters are not portraits, it is based on fact." Goudge's writes that she wrote Green Dolphin Street because "it was a story [she] had always wanted to tell because it was so extraordinary, and the writing of it took [her] mind off the war" (274). The reliance of a book on a true story to make it more riveting and closer to the reader is not uncommon among bestsellers. William Blatty's The Exorcist is based on a well-known newspaper story about demonic possession, and in Grace Metalious' Peyton Place one of the characters, Selena Cross, faces a murder trial similar to one that had actually taken place. The true story can be paralleled to the human-interest news story. Novels based upon true stories take a kernel of truth and create a vivid and detailed story, the same way that human-interest news stories take an angle on a piece of news that turns it into a human story with characters who are sympathetic and draw emotional attachment from a reader. The emotional attachment and sympathetic connection garnered from a human-interest story or a novel based on fact is arguably stronger than that gained from an entirely fictional work. Assuming factors like quality and skill of writing are equal, the true story is much more compelling than the entirely fictional work, because although readers identify with characters in both works the identification goes deeper if a reader knows the character is not really a character at all, but a real person. The prevalence of true stories goes fairly far to prove this, because any sort of entertainment is really about emotional and sympathetic connections to an audience, it would make sense to produce the entertainment types that the audience finds more compelling. Hence, the nightly prime time regimen of made-for-TV-docu-dramas actually proves the compelling nature of the true story, regardless of the medium. So, despite Goudge being "reprimanded by several reviewers for cooking up such a fantastic story" (275) the true basis for her novel probably had something to do with its success, because of the way the true story effects readers. Green Dolphin Street belongs to the category of the historical romance, as well as the true story. The setting is in the first half of the nineteenth century, and it captures many of the elements of a historical romance, high adventure on the sea, love against all odds, and a sort of an emotional rags to riches story. However, it contains some elements that are not usual for the popular light historical romance, Green Dolphin Street's characters are very flawed and human. William Ozanne, the novel's "Prince Charming" is a weak man despite his kindliness; his inability to correctly remember names causes him to write a proposal to the wrong girl, and his guileless nature makes him easy prey for thieves in China. Consequently he ends up in New Zealand, fearing a court martial, married to the wrong sister, and unable to prevent his true love from winding up in a convent. Marianne Le Patourel, the novel's protagonist, is a scheming, grasping, unbeautiful, almost unlovable woman, who connives to marry William despite his obvious love for her sister. This combined with the unhappiness prevalent in the three main characters for virtually all but the last ten pages in a five hundred page novel creates somewhat of a contradiction to the escapist, pleasure giving role of a bestseller. The final element of a bestseller that Green Dolphin Street illustrates is its firm position in the category of not quite literature. Critics of the novel all place it strictly out of the bounds of great literature, because of its strong focus on plot and descriptions of setting and its obvious entertainment driven purpose. Its purpose was obviously entertainment driven because it was widely publicized for winning the Metro Goldwyn Mayor prize, and was understood by all to be practically a script for a new MGM movie. But this does not make it uncommon among bestsellers, most best-selling novels are acknowledged to be less than literature, the few "greats" that even make a bestseller list can fit into other, more common categories of bestsellers. Earnest Hemingway's The Old Man and The Sea was a bestseller because of the acclaim it received upon winning a large prize, similar to Green Dolphin Street's success because of a prize. James Joyce's Ulysses made a large splash because it was highly controversial and difficult to get into the country, and Joseph Conrad's only appearance on the bestseller list is with a book that has been argued by critics to have a lessor literary merit than previous novels by him. However, Green Dolphin Street is not "low" literature, it employs complex sentences, creates vivid portraits of characters, and has several themes running throughout its story line. It straddles the line that many Oprah books seem to sit on, "high" enough literature for Oprah and several select readers to discuss heatedly over dinner at one of her book club shows, and "low" enough so that critics can snub and dismiss them as overly-sentimental and under-polished. Straddling this line seems to be key for most bestsellers, "high" literature, such as is read widely in schools and college courses can be a tedious chore to read, and is often thought of as work. Such works are read to improve the mind, and not for the entertainment value they provide. Conversely, "low" literature, like the harlequin romance genre, abounds in such quantities, and each book is so interchangeable, that there is not enough distinction for any of the "lower" tier books to ever be singled out by a great enough segment of the book buying public to make the best seller list. What is left is books with a universal appeal, escapist novels that have some unique quality, or are advertised in a successful way, or the occasional sensationalist novel that does something so different that it creates an audience of people eager to buy it because they want to find out exactly what everyone else is talking about. Green Dolphin Street is the former type of book, along with many of the Oprah books. In Green Dolphin Street's case it employed a massive advertising campaign under the direction of MGM, and in the Oprah books' case the marketing phenomenon that is Oprah merely recommended. In conclusion, Green Dolphin Street, now largely forgotten, has a lot to say about bestsellers as a genre of book. It is a reflection of the time period in which it was written and published, it reflects the successful trick of basing a novel on a true story in order to garner more emotional appeal, it is an example of a genre of bestseller, the historical romance, although not without exceptions, and it helps explain the not quite literature nature of the bestseller. SOURCES: Goudge, Elizabeth. Green Dolphin Street. Coward-McCann, Inc. New York: 1944. Goudge, Elizabeth. The Joy of Snow. Coward-McCann & Geoghegan, Inc. New York: 1974. Blatty, William Peter. The Exorcist. Harper Paperbacks. New York: 1994. Metalious, Grace. Peyton Place. Northeastern University Press. Boston: 1999. Smith, Betty. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. HarperPerennial. New York 1998. Entries in the Bestseller Database and notes in class on all of the above novels (excluding The Joy of Snow), as well as for The Robe, Ulysses, and The Old Man and The Sea. Notes in class and Daisy Maryles' article on 01/0401999, "Bestsellers '98: They're the Tops" on PublishersWeekly.com, for the Oprah effect in publishing. DeFoe, Daniel. Roxanna. Notes from ENEC 381 in Fall of 1999.
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