Wood, Gillen D'Arcy
WOOD, Gillen D'Arcy
ADDRESSES: Home—Champaign, IL. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Other Press, 307 7th Ave., Ste. 1807, New York, NY 10001.
CAREER: Educator and author. University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, assistant professor of English. Worked in Australia as a jazz musician.
AWARDS, HONORS: Mellon fellowships, 1998, 2004.
The Shock of the Real: Romanticism and Visual Culture, 1760–1860, Palgrave, (New York, NY), 2001.
(Author of introduction and notes) Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, Barnes and Noble Classics (New York, NY), 2003.
Hosack's Folly: A Novel of Old New York, Other Press (New York, NY), 2005.
(Author of introduction and notes) Sir Walter Scott, Ivanhoe, Barnes and Noble Classics (New York, NY), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Gillen D'Arcy Wood worked as a jazz musician prior to moving to the United States to attend Columbia University on a Fulbright scholarship. His Hosack's Folly: A Novel of Old New York takes place in New York during the summer of 1824. The city is on the verge of an epidemic of yellow fever, but when Dr. David Hosack recommends a quarantine he is ignored. Businesses refuse to close for fear of lost revenue, and their owners convince the local politicians to dismiss Hosack's concerns. The editor of the newspaper is also against Hosack, because he is intent on keeping his financial backing. Hosack is only proven correct once the epidemic strikes the city, but at that point it is too late. A contributor for Publishers Weekly wrote that "the novel contains such vivid scenes and reaches such a satisfying conclusion that it's easy to forgive some occasionally shallow writing." Kathy Peihl, in a review for Library Journal, remarked that Wood "effectively portrays the horror of yellow fever and the filth of a city in desperate need of clean water."
In his nonfiction title The Shock of the Real: Romanticism and Visual Culture, 1760–1860, Wood suggests that the popularization and democratization of visual culture began during the Romantic period. He illustrates this as a battle between the elitists and the average citizens, examining how various groups of people, primarily in Great Britain, would entertain themselves or utilize décor during this time. Jacque-line M. Labbe remarked in a review for Studies in Romanticism that the book "is meticulous in its historical research, elegant and coherent in style, readable and interesting," but she also commented: "If only it did not rely on a critical construction of Romanticism and 'the Romantics' that for many readers bypasses the important re-evaluations of the discipline offered in the last decade or so." Wordsworth Circle critic Bradford Mudge stated that the book "offers ample evidence that the relationship between the sister arts of poetry and painting is no longer the province of Blake scholars alone. Nor is it the province of eccentric renegades from the discipline proper." He concluded that, "as well-written and thoughtful as it is broad in scope," the book "should be required reading for all scholars interested in British Romanticism and visual culture."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2005, review of Hosack's Folly: A Novel of Old New York, p. 147.
Library Journal, April 1, 2005, Kathy Peihl, review of Hosack's Folly, p. 90.
Publishers Weekly, February 14, 2005, review of Hosack's Folly, p. 52.
Studies in Romanticism, summer, 2004, Jacqueline M. Labbe, review of The Shock of the Real: Romanticism and Visual Culture, 1760–1860, p. 310.
Wordsworth Circle, fall, 2002, Bradford Mudge, review of The Shock of the Real, p. 157.