Connection and Taking Care: Lamb and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

By Lillian Lu

In the recent Netflix film, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, set in 1946, London writer Juliet Ashton (Lily James), tired of publishing under her usual pseudonym and still recovering from the trauma of losing her parents and home during the war, is searching for something to write about. The answer comes when she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams (Michiel Huisman), a farmer from the island of Guernsey, who was one of the founding members of the eponymous book club during the war years and who has come across her copy of Charles Lamb’s Essays of Elia. As the island has no more bookshops, he asks if she can send him an address of a London bookshop that might carry more of Lamb’s books. The Romantic essayist, Dawsey tells Juliet, was a great comfort to him during World War II, during which Guernsey was occupied by the Germans, all children evacuated, a curfew put in place, land mines planted on the beach, and their livestock taken away.
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Charles Lamb on New Year’s Eve 1820: “No one ever regarded the First of January with indifference.”

By Samantha Ellen Morse

If your inbox looks anything like mine this first week of January, it’s flooded with advertisements for gym memberships, discounted vitamins, and fancy planners that “guarantee” you reach your goals. I started wondering when the idea of a New Year resolution became such a widespread cultural phenomenon. The Romantic period seemed like a likely point of origin, given the increasing emphasis on individual experience.

“New Year’s Eve,” one of Charles Lamb’s Elia essays published in the London Magazine in January 1821, does not prove my hypothesis. But it does express an interesting attitude toward the New Year.

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