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A History of Victorian Literature


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Table of Contents

Preface xi Note on Citations xv Introduction: Locating Victorian Literature 1 Byron is Dead 1 Cultural Contexts 2 The Literary Field 11 An Age of Prose 14 The Situation of Poetry 19 Victorian Theater 21 The Novel After Scott 22 1 "The Times are Unexampled": Literature in the Age of Machinery, 1830?1850 27 Constructing the Man of Letters 27 The Burdens of Poetry 33 Theater in the 1830s 48 Fiction in the Early 1830s 50 Dickens and the Forms of Fiction 55 Poetry after the Annuals 66 Literature of Travel 70 History and Heroism 73 Social Crisis and the Novel 81 The Domestic Ideal 84 From Silver-Fork to Farce 86 Poetry in the Early 1840s 89 The Literature of Labor 95 Medievalism 98 "The Two Nations" 101 "What's Money After All?" 111 Romance and Religion 116 The Novel of Development 123 Art, Politics, and Faith 127 In Memoriam 137 2 Crystal Palace and Bleak House: Expansion and Anomie, 1851?1873 143 The Novel and Society 145 Crimea and the Forms of Heroism 156 Empire 164 Spasmodics and Other Poets 168 The Power of Art 182 Realisms 187 Two Guineveres 194 Sensation 200 Dreams of Self-Fashioning 207 Narrating Nature: Darwin 215 Novels and their Audiences 218 Literature for Children 228 Poetry in the Early 1860s 232 Criticism and Belief 244 The Pleasures of the Difficult 250 The Hellenic Tradition 259 Domesticity, Politics, Empire, and the Novel 267 After Dickens 275 The Persistence of Epic 282 Poisonous Honey and Fleshly Poetry 286 3 The Rise of Mass Culture and the Specter of Decline, 1873?1901 293 Science, Materialism, and Value 296 Twilight of the Poetic Titans 305 The Decline of the Marriage Plot 314 The Aesthetic Movement 325 Aesthetic Poetry 329 Life-Writing 333 Morality and the Novel 342 Romance 351 Regionalism 356 The Arrival of Kipling 360 Fiction and the Forms of Belief 365 Sex, Science, and Danger 370 Fictions of the Artist 375 Decadence 377 Drama in the 1880s 381 The New Woman in Fiction 386 Decadent Form 394 The Poetry of London 400 Yeats 405 The Scandal of Wilde 408 Poetry After Wilde 411 Fictions of Decline 416 Conrad 423 Epilogue 429 Works Cited 435 Index 451

About the Author

James Eli Adams is Professor of English & Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He is the author of Dandies and Desert Saints: Styles of Victorian Masculinity (1995); the general editor of the four-volume Encyclopedia of the Victorian Era (2004); and co-editor of Sexualities in Victorian Britain (1996).


"An award-winning overview of Victorian literature, considering keyfigures and their works." ( Bookseller Buyer's Guide, 1August 2011) "This is a beautifully written, truly intelligent book thatunderstands the Victorians. Reading this volume was a pleasure thatbrought home rather forcefully the relatively functional nature ofso much professional academic prose." (Victorian Studies,Spring 2010) "This elegant and far-reaching book offers a surprising sourceof optimism to those working in the humanities in HigherEducation." (Dickens Quarterly, 2010) "Throughout his prose is clear and unpretentious--in short,entirely appropriate for his intended audience. Though specialistsmay quibble over what Adams chooses to omit from this conciseaccount, this book is a remarkable achievement." (CHOICE,October 2009) "...its breadth of coverage is staggering. It includes all themajor figures and genres of the age, hosts of relatively minorauthors and works, and all the important subgenres. Also, byplacing the individual works in their ever-shifting literary andcultural milieus, it provides a depth of insight lacking in morenarrowly conceived studies... Also, it may well stimulate anexploration of the work of such important but neglected authors asAinsworth, Disraeli and Bulwer-Lytton, not to mention such utterlyforgotten authors as Catherine Gore. Adams, in fact, seems to haveread so much of the relatively minor and currently neglectedliterature of the entire period, and writes about it with suchgusto and infectious enthusiasm that he extends the breadth anddepth of the entire field of Victorian studies and will doubtlessinspire specialists as well as less advanced students of the periodto read works they might otherwise have viewed as expendable. Thebook is indeed so replete with valuable insights into so many worksand authors that the reader who has taken in its chronologicalsweep by reading from the introduction through the epilogue willundoubtedly return over and over again via the index to review thereadings of particular works". (New Books Online, September2009) "Herbert F Tucker's foreword to James Eli Adams's History ofVictorian Literature waxes lyrical about its achievement interms extravagant enough to arouse suspicion." (VictorianStudies, Spring 2010)

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