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Tom Browning's Schooldays

Guest Dabeagle

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Guest Dabeagle

I've recently read all four posted chapters and had a few thoughts to share. Like most stories, this one isn't for everyone. The diction is so out of step with modern speech and occasionally I find periods where I'd have thought of a comma or no punctuation in a sentence where I'd have expected one. The flow, indeed the feel, of the story is right though and must be very very difficult to achieve. I can't imagine putting such old fashioned, period language together successfully and consistently, add to that the primitive plumbing and the overall unusuallness of the idea (to me) of a boarding school make this something other than the run of the mill tale.

Historical fiction can be a quagmire, since there are so many well known events. This may not suffer from that due to the encapsulated nature of the location. I'd have to look up the time period to see if there were major conflicts that brewed up and would be part of such a storyline, but as it stands the day to day has tons of detail.

This is clearly a large effort, I look forward to future chapters.

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And the link is here:


I think some of the sentence structure is too short, abrupt, and modern to be from the 1800s, but the story is interesting. If you read Dickens or Sam Clemens from this era, you'll see they have really longwinded sentences; short and punchy was not the style 150 years ago.

But I agree with Dabeagle in that it's a brave, edgy idea that takes a lot of talent to pull off.

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And I'd update my earlier message to say that Joel's dialog is first-rate -- this is very close to the language of the times, at least what I'd expect to hear in a film of that era. Very well-done.

--Marc W.

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  • 1 year later...

I am quite enjoying this work and the amount of effort that has gone into it is astonishing. I love Nineteenth-Century English literature and my love for it was born in junior high school when I read David Copperfield and when I watched Tom Brown's Schooldays on PBS. I have a special interest in this story because of my love for the original. When I was a teenager, decades before the cliche of Internet stories about gay boys in boarding schools, I dreamed of being a student with Tom Brown and Harry East, vanquishing Flashman at Rugby, and befriending George Arthur. I must have read Thomas Hughes' novel and the sequel Tom Brown at Oxford dozens of times. So I am thrilled with Joel's effort and I applaud the scholarship.

One response to comments in previous posts, the narrator is a teenager boy, so I wouldn't expect the more complex sentence structure common in Victorian literature. I find the dialogue realistic from my limited knowledge based on the authors I've read and the attention to detail about everyday aspects of life in the 1840's is incredible. This is a tremendous project done with great skill. Thank you, Joel!

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