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The Victorian Novel



The Victorian Novel

Francis O'Gorman (Editor)

ISBN: 978-0-470-77985-9 April 2008 Wiley-Blackwell 368 Pages

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This guide steers students through significant critical responses to the Victorian novel from the end of the nineteenth century to the present day.
Acknowledgements xv

Textual Note xix

Introduction 1

1. Early Criticism of the Victorian Novel from James Oliphant to David Cecil 17

The State of the Novel in 1900.

University Study of Victorian Literature.

Principles of Literary History.

The Approach of George Saintsbury.

Extract from Saintsbury's The English Novel (1913).

E.M. Forster and Critiquing Literary History.

The Modernist Construction of Victorian Fiction.

David Cecil's View of Victorian Novels and Culture.

Extract from Cecil's Early Victorian Novelists (1934).

Further Reading.

2. F.R. Leavis and The Great Tradition 46

Outline of the Chapter.

Leavis's Influence.

The Principles of Leavis' Criticism.

The Idea of Tradition.

1980s' Reactions to the Politics of Leavis' Criticism.

The Principles of Leavis' The Great Tradition (1948).

Its Treatment of Dickens and Leavis' Later Views on Him.

Extract from The Great Tradition.

Further Reading.

3. Feminism and the Victorian Novel in the 1970s 66

The Influence of 1970s' Feminism.

Outline of the Chapter.

Ellen Moers' Literary Women (1976).

Elaine Showalter and the Female Tradition.

Discussion of Showalter's A Literature of Their Own (1977).

1980s' Response to Showalter.

Extract from A Literature of Their Own.

Significance of Gilbert and Gubar's The Madwoman in the Attic (1979).

The Madwoman


Gilbertand Gubar's Appraisal of The Madwoman.

Extract from The Madwoman.

Further Reading.

4. Realism 94

Preliminary Questions.

Outline of the Chapter.

Histories of Realism.

Ian Watt's The Rise of the Novel (1957) Discussed.

The Cartesian Certainties of Realism.

Watt Critiqued.

Alternative Histories of Realism.

Epistemology of Realism.

Ioan Williams and Realism's Certainties.

George Levine's View of Realism and Self-Consciousness.

Extract from Levine's The Realist Imagination (1981).

Psychological Coherence in Realism: Bersani's A Future for Astyanax (1976).

Politics of Classic Realism and Coherence Criticized in 1980s.

Extract from Belsey's Critical Practice (1980).

Belsey Critiqued.

D.A. Miller's The Novel and the Police (1988) Discussed.

The Turn Against Realism in the 1980s.

Interest in Gothic.

Interest in the not-Said of Realism.

The Feminist Recuperation of Realism in 1980s.

Extract from Boumehla's 'Realism and the Ends of Feminism' (1988).

New Historicism and Historicizing the Real.

Rothfield's Vital Signs (1992).

Nancy Armstrong and Kate Flint.


Further Reading.

5. Social-Problem Fiction: Historicism and Feminism 149

What is Social-Problem Fiction?

Outline of the First Part of Chapter.

Cazamian's Reading in 1903.

The Significance of Raymond Williams.

Williams's 'Structures of Feeling'.

Williams's Criticisms of Social-Problem Fiction.

The Knowable Community in Williams's The English Novel (1970).

Extract from The English Novel.

Williams's Generalizations.

Sheila Smith's Particularization of Williams.

More Problems Found in Social-Problem Fiction.

Brantlinger's Historicization: a Context for Social-Problem Fiction.

New Historicism: Further Contexts.

Context 2. Gallagher and the Discourse over Industrialism.

Context 3. Mary Poovey and the Social Body.

Extract from Mary Poovey's Making a Social Body (1995).

Criticisms of New Historicism.

Guy and Individualism in the Victorian Mind.

Extract from Guy's The Victorian Social-Problem Novel (1996).

Feminism and the Social-Problem Novel.

Outline of Second Part of Chapter.

Recent Work on Elizabeth Gaskell.

Bergmann's Views on Strong Female Characters.

Kestner's Canon Revision.

Nord, Female Novelists, and Transgression.

Harman, Female Novelists, and Transformation.

The Future of Social-Problem Fiction Criticism.

Further Reading.

6. Language and Form 196

Outline of the Chapter.

Language and The Victorian Novel.

General Linguistic Studies of the Novel.

Language of Individual Victorian Novelists.

Chapman's Forms of Speech (1994).

Relation of Arguments to Thinking about Realism.

Other Documentary Work on Victorian Language.

Bakhtin and Language Studies.

Ingham's Views on Gender and Class.

Extract from Ingham The Language of Gender and Class (1996).

Bakhtin and Literature Studies.

Form and The Victorian Novel.

Henry James on Monster Novels.

Van Ghent's Reaction and Emphasis on Unity.

Extract from Van Ghent The English Novel (1953).

Barbara Hardy's Reaction: the Advantages of Fluidity in Form.

Hillis Miller and Form without God.

Deconstruction and Incoherence.

Garrett's Deconstructionist Views of Multiplot Fiction.

Extract from Garrett's The Victorian Multiplot Novel (1980).

Keen and Narrative Annexes.

Approaches to Form in 1980s and 90s Summarized.

Further Reading (Including Narratology).

7. Science and the Victorian Novel 230

Outline of the Chapter.

Early Approaches to Field.

Stevenson's Darwin Among the Poets (1932) Discussed.

Henkin's Darwinism in the English Novel (1940) Discussed.

Cosslett's Work on Overlaps of Science and Literature.

Beer on Darwin and Fiction.

Extract from Beer's Darwin's Plots (1983).

Science and Literature Read Alongside Each Other.

Levine's Study of Novelists Who Did Not Read Science.

Levine's Influential Concept of the One Culture.

Extract from Levine's Darwin and the Novelists (1988).

Dickens and Science.

1990s' Interest in Pathology and Mind Sciences.

Helen Small and Love's Madness.

Small's Critique of the One Culture Model.

Sally Shuttleworth on Psychology.

Logan on Hysteria, Wood on Neurology.

Eugenics and the Novel.

Further Reading.

8. The History of the Book 261

Diversity of History of the Book Studies.

Outline of the Chapter.

Bibliographical Work of Relevance to Victorian Fiction.

Butt and Tillotson and the Material Conditions of Authorship.

Altick and the Reader.

The Three-Volume Novel and Its Problems.

Extract from Sutherland's Victorian Novelists and Publishers (1976).

Feltes and Marxist Readings of Production and Authorship.

Feminist Revision of Sutherland Publishing History.

Working-Class Fiction Recovered.

1990's Emphasis on the Reader.

Flint and the Woman Reader.

Gender and the Marketplace.

Catherine Judd's 'Male Pseudonyms and Female.'.

Authority in Victorian England' (1995).

Further Reading.

9. Postcolonial Readings 306

Range and Diversity of Postcolonialism.

Central Interests of Postcolonialism.

Outline of the Chapter.

Early Views of Victorian Fiction and Empire.

Said's Orientalism (1978) and Its Consequences for Fiction.

Spivak's Critique of Feminism.

The Embeddedness of Fiction in Colonial Ideology.

Extract from Spivak 'Three Women's Texts and Critique of Imperialism'.

Brantlinger's Rule of Darkness (1988) and Explicit Engagements with Empire.

Bivona and the Hidden Presence of Empire.

Perera and Colonial Anxieties.

Sharpe and Fiction's Collusion with Ideology.

Richards and the Imperial Archive.

Azim and the Imperial Form of Fiction.

Extract from Azim's The Colonial Rise of the Novel (1993).

Deirdre David, Women, and the Empire.

Meyer and Fiction's Double Relationship with Colonial Ideology.

Extract from Imperialism at Home (1996).

Further Reading 332

Index 335

"O'Gorman functions as more author than editor in this second volume in the "Blackwell Guides to Criticism" series, providing a lucid, readable narrative accessible to the non-specialist.[...] In its definition and summary of current critical theories, the book will prove useful to all students of literature, not just those interested in the Victorian period. Highly recommended for all collections." Choice

"this will be a useful companion to any English or History course whatever the level of study and will provide a concise and clear critique that can be applied to any Victorian novel." Reference Reviews

"It is the kind of book you come back to, repeatedly consult, and would find absorbing whether or not you were an academic teacher. It is likely to serve for a long time as a fruitful reminder of how the practice of literary criticism has permanently changed the way we enjoy the old-fashioned narrative pleasures of the Victorian novel." The Brown Book

  • Presents the most influential and significant critical writing on Victorian fiction.

  • Offers students careful guidance through the critical literature by means of a narrative framework.

  • Encourages students to engage with critical debates about Victorian literature.

  • Avoids polemical orientation, encouraging students to see the situatedness of all criticism.

  • Provides annotated suggestions for further reading.