Victorian novels (209 books) - Goodreads

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The Husband List: A Novel (Culhane Family Book 2)

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  • TAG : Reading List Victorian Literature (1832-1900) Instructions
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  • At some point in the Victorian era, the novel replaced the poem as the most fashionable vehicle for the transmission of literature. This fundamental shift in popular taste has remained to the present day. Serial publications in magazines and journals became more and more popular, and soon these pieces were being bound and sold in their complete forms. Dickens made full use of the serial format, and his novels betray the episodic arrangement of their original publication method. He was the first great popular novelist in England, and was the forerunner of the artist-celebrity figure which in the twentieth century would become the norm. The influence of Dickens was so severe that every novelist who came after him had to work under his aesthetic shadow. Part of his appeal certainly owed to the fact that his literary style, while always entertaining, put the ills of society under the microscope for everyone to see. His was a condemning portrait of society’s obsession with logic and scientific advancement at the expanse of the imagination. Until the Victorian Period, the novel had been frowned upon as a lesser form of writing, incapable of the sublime reaches of lyric poetry. Critics saw that the novel appealed to a popular, often female readership, and therefore dismissed it as artless and dull. The later Victorian novelists, however, proved that the form could attain heights of artistic achievement previously reserved only for poetry. Thomas Hardy, for example, pushed the novel to its limits, significantly expanding the possibilities of the form. Although he thought of himself more as a poet, his first best talent lay in constructing detailed, fatalistic plot-structures that still captivate readers. Novels like share many qualities with Greek tragedy, of which Hardy was quite fond, but they also contain psychologically sophisticated, realistic characterizations. His gift for characterization would influence an entire generation of writers.

    Defining Victorian literature in any satisfactory and comprehensive manner has proven troublesome for critics ever since the nineteenth century came to a close. The movement roughly comprises the years from 1830 to 1900, though there is ample disagreement regarding even this simple point. The name given to the period is borrowed from the royal matriarch of England, Queen Victoria, who sat on throne from 1837 to 1901. One has difficulty determining with any accuracy where the Romantic Movement of the early nineteenth century leaves off and the Victorian Period begins because these traditions have so many aspects in common. Likewise, identifying the point where Victorianism gives way completely to Modernism is no easy task. Literary periods are never the discrete, self-contained realms which the anthologies so suggest. Rather, a literary period more closely resembles a rope that is frayed at both ends. Many threads make up the rope and work together to form the whole artistic and cultural milieu. The Victorian writers exhibited some well-established habits from previous eras, while at the same time pushing arts and letters in new and interesting directions. Indeed, some of the later Victorian novelists and poets are nearly indistinguishable from the Modernists who followed shortly thereafter. In spite of the uncertainty of terminology, there are some concrete statements that one can make regarding the nature of Victorian literature, and the intellectual world which nurtured that literature.

  • Oh, the Victorians. I have difficult relationships with most Victorian novelists. That the Brontë sisters, who I so dislike, are so closely linked with this period does it no favour in my eyes. But then it did produce two of my favourite novelists, Thackeray and Gaskell, so surely it is worth giving more attention to. As a teenager I perhaps read too much Victorian fiction, gorging myself on sensational plots and strict moral codes until I little appetite left for either.

    Oh, the Victorians. I have difficult relationships with most Victorian novelists. That the Brontë sisters, who I so dislike, are so closely linked with this period does it no favour in my eyes. But then it did produce two of my favourite novelists, Thackeray and Gaskell, so surely it is worth giving more attention to. As a teenager I perhaps read too much Victorian fiction, gorging myself on sensational plots and strict moral codes until I little appetite left for either.

  • "The Body Economic" explains how these shared views of life, death, and sensation helped shape and were modified by the two most important Victorian novelists: Charles Dickens and George Eliot. It reveals how political economists interacted crucially with the life sciences of the nineteenth century--especially with psychophysiology and anthropology--producing the intellectual world that nurtured not only George Eliot's realism but also turn-of-the-century literary modernism.

Has to be one of the most perfectly structured novels of all time