Three Novels

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ISBN: 978-1-890650-51-3
$15.95 • 2011 • 80 pages

Three Novels revisits the terrain of the Victorian novel, entering that world with a particular affinity for the feminine within its social and physical landscape. Taking cues from three different novels, these poems show the intimacies that make “adhesive relation” through troth, kin or links to landscape. Who owns this body, this estate? Where does the woman hide and what is the empowering eros of her role? Three Novels proposes “disguise as clairvoyant,” and here the wily female body is resistant to ownership as it slips through the hidden paths and plot twists, through the downy lawns, the nocturnal byways, and the gritty train stations into the “accounts most accurate to the invention.

Elizabeth Robinson’s new and original collection recasts three mysterious novels into poetic prose fragments each of which underscores questions also raised in the novels: what is to be believed, which clues should be followed, which layer of meaning represents any form of truth…. this original and intriguing exploration also urges reading itself as a way to grasp our lives. —Martha Ronk

Part lyrical investigation, part investigative evocation, always insightful and original, Elizabeth Robinson’s Three Novels is a poetic journey into the prose delectations of the ever-wonderful Wilkie Collins and George Gissing. Just as Susan Howe’s exploration of Emily Dickinson offered readers a fresh path into her works and days, so now has Robinson traveled back into nineteenth-century England to rediscover masterpieces by two of its most quirky, unconventional giants. A real jewel, Three Novels recalls the ineffable one that Wilkie Collins conjured in The Moonstone, the mystery that T. S. Eliot referred to as “the first…and the best of the modern English detective novels.” And Robinson’s achievement of bringing fresh life to these classics, already bursting with life themselves, is a feat that deserves our gratitude and admiration. —Bradford Marrow

Robinson’s poems, at their best, speak at once to an earlier age, and to our own: “The land’s grace incarcerates, redouble’s itself,” notes one line, while “There is no secrecy, only swathing—” quips another. These are darkly pleasant, revealing forays into another era’s mind. When “Pariah” ends “Yet in the eyes of the world, vindication bears little relation to mercy,” one hears all sorts of ghosts and echoes. —Publishers Weekly

Robinson’s latest book of poems is a journey through three Victorian novels: Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone and The Woman in White, and George Gissing’s Eve’s Ransom. In Robinson’s deft hands, these three texts come to life with layered evocations of the feminine. —American Poet

Robinson rewrites a body and a loss, a descriptive allusion of a woman we might never actually know, from Collins’ The Moonstone, considered by many to be the first detective novel, described by poet and critic T. S. Eliot as “the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels […] in a genre invented by Collins and not by Poe.” In Robinson’s second section, the woman, and what exactly the mystery might be, becomes elusive, and perhaps, secondary to the point of the poems. Writing predominantly in prose poems, she blocks out text, each another step to a mystery that may never be solved. —Eileen Tabios, Galatea Resurrects