19 th -Century Fiction: Overview. I. Contexts and Sources A. Forms of fiction B. Point of contention C. Enlightenment and Sensibility II. Romantic Fiction A. 1800-1814 B. Major Novelists C. 1815-1830 III. Victorian Fiction A. Early (1830-1845) B. Mid-century (1845-1860)
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I. Contexts and Sources
A. Forms of fiction
B. Point of contention
C. Enlightenment and Sensibility
II. Romantic Fiction
B. Major Novelists
III. Victorian Fiction
A. Early (1830-1845)
B. Mid-century (1845-1860)
C. High (1860-1875)
D. Late (1875-1890)
A. Fiction took several forms
Chapbooks (Dick Whittington and Jack and the Giants, for example; sold by pedlars)
Books (fashionable for the rich to own; distributed to the middle class through small circulating libraries)
Argues that middle-class values of reason, order, self-discipline, social and religious toleration, free inquiry, and free enterprise must prevail over prejudices, censorship, self-indulgence of courts, patronage system, fixed social hierarchies, and economic monopolies
Stresses individual moral and intellectual worth or merit against artificial social categories such as rank
Led by professional men (lawyers, Dissenting clergy)
In the 1790s, Enlightenment themes emerge in Jacobin novels, such as Godwin’s Caleb Williams and novels of ideas by John Moore and Robert Bage
A reaction against certain Enlightenment views, values, and ideas and a continuation of others, especially the idea of the autonomous subjective self and sympathy as a social bond
Emphasizes inner moral and intellectual worth
Explores the inward self
Teaches benevolent optimism
Treats family affections sympathetically
In the 1790s, Sentimental themes emerge in novels of manners, such as Burney’s Evelina and Charlotte Smith’s works, in Gothic romances, such as Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho, in Evangelical tales by Hannah More, and in Romantic tales by Charles Lamb
Rejection of domestic realism in favor of the fantastic, the extravagant, the irrational. Exploration of excessive selfhood. Focus on the self can transcend social categories (as in sentimental novels), but it can also be egotism
Prepare the way for better social problem novels by Gaskell, and Kingsley, and Dickens later in the century.
Explore life of the individual in the family, courtship, and marriage. Relate change and development of the individual to social change. Attack received views of women. Critique classes’ connection through money only.
Mudie opened a large new hall for his circulating library. Cheap railway reprints were available from the 50s on. Cornhill Magazine founded, 1860. Massive number of novels published. Professionalization of the novel trade.
Split between low and high-brow readers (Eliot and Meredith emerge to appeal to high-brow). Novel becomes more intellectually ambitious, more complex and self-aware. Victorian values treated more skeptically.
Explore darker, often forbidden areas of human experience. Ambivalent plots and characters. Relativist morality. Appearance and reality are blurred and contradictory. Crimes of passion. Prophetic dreams. Madness and imprisonment. Probe human psyche under stress of heightened emotions.
Censorship was an issue. Exploration of the human psyche – psychology, mysticism, the paranormal. Debate over romance and realism.