In certain circles of education and pedagogical theory, gamification seems to be all the rage right now. Well, I’m all for it. My own foray into gamifying my relationship to the literary world has taken the form of counterfactual biographical interactivity. Not surprisingly, I found a way to use the video game format to support my fanatical enthusiasm for all things Ouida.
When I first read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (1813) to the accompaniment of happy hardcore techno music the entire way through, I thought that I had discovered a match made in heaven. Actually, the story goes back much further than that.
If you’re a serious fan of Ouida’s novels, then you probably agree that she created some of popular fiction’s most memorable characters. In many of her novels, it’s the villain who stands out from the rest of the cast. Here is a list of some of my personal picks for the best of her worst.
With much effort and eyestrain on the blogger, the following selection was transcribed from an unpublished essay written by Ouida on the subject of animal cruelty. The essay is largely a rebuttal to her friend Lady Paget’s impressions of the lives of domesticated animals in late nineteenth century Florence. Ouida is widely regarded as an important early voice for animal rights; in particular, she is often noted for her lifelong defense of the humane treatment of dogs. This excerpt clearly shows, however, that she was also concerned with the conditions for equines in their use as work animals:
Epic! Transcendent! Ethereal! Timeless! Pascarel is Ouida’s first three-decker (i.e. three volume novel) based entirely in Italy. It is also the first novel of “the Italian set” (Pascarel, Signa, Ariadne, A Village Commune, and In Maremma).
Time for the list of top ten Ouida moe. Just to recap, I have defined Ouida moe as “the quintessential elements that comprise the characters and the plots of Ouida’s fiction.” Here are my choices for the best examples:
I gladly embrace the term “Ouidaite” to describe myself as an American Ouida fan because I am faithfully Pro-Ouida. I firmly concur with many of her core literary and philosophical tenets including her aestheticism, her humanism, her humanitarianism, and many of her views on the preservation of cultural heritage sites, nature, and animal rights. I believe the origin of the term “Pro-Ouidaite” lies with its appearance in Elizabeth Lee’s Ouida: A Memoir (1914). The first of several biographies devoted to the author, in Lee’s account the label is first employed to describe the camp of individuals who retained their support for Ouida in Florence subsequent to the infamous controversy that erupted over the publication of the novel Friendship in 1878 as her roman à clef (Lee 94). Nevertheless, at present, I have adopted the term to situate my own fanaticism with Ouida and her works.
Okay, so it is appropriate at this time to introduce my personal top five Ouida novels. I have already listed the top five according to Goodreads in the Reading Challenges. My personal list represents a substantial departure from the popular choice.
It was a pleasure to discover that Ouida’s final novel was also one of her most political. I’ll begin this review by stating that I found Helianthus (1908) to be a most intriguing novel. Practically every page pulled me deeper and deeper into a state of perpetual captivation. Then again, pretty much every Ouida novel I’ve read has produced a similar effect.
1. Impossible Realism
Even if Ouida’s world is a fantastic one, dipping into that world is always entertaining. Of course, Ouida firmly believed her “fanciful” stories to be descriptions based in the real world. True fans, nevertheless, adore that her narratives are full of dramatic events, wild plot twists, and intense character relationships. As a devout Ouida fan, her works of fiction provide the perfect blend of art and entertainment.