Victorian Literature


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Victorian Literature

  1. 1. The Victorian Era “ The Age of Reading”
  2. 2. Even idleness is eager now,-eager for amusement; prone to excursion-trains, art-museums, periodical literature, and exciting novels. — George Eliot
  3. 3. Literary Culture <ul><li>Typical middle-class families read together in the evenings </li></ul><ul><ul><li>wives or daughters read aloud to the rest of the household </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Magazines containing serialized novels and poems </li></ul><ul><li>General literacy meant there was an enormous amount of printed material produced during the period </li></ul><ul><ul><li>97 percent of both sexes able to read by 1900 </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Visual Aid <ul><li>Illustrations </li></ul><ul><li>helped unpracticed readers to follow the story. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1875 wood engravings gave way to photogravure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1880s photographs to replace hand-drawn works </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Colored illustrations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>hand-tinted at first, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>often by poor women and children working at home </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>chromolithography soon made colored reproductions of artwork possible. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>British publishing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>gradually transformed itself into a modern industry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>worldwide distribution and influence. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Copies of The Times circulated in uncharted Africa </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>illustrations torn from magazines adorned bushmen's huts </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Reader’s Taste <ul><li>Readers' tastes varied according to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Class </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>income </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>education. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Upper-class </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The well-educated but unintellectual </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>small portion of the Victorian reading public. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Working-class </li></ul><ul><ul><li>literacy rates </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>far below the general standard </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>increased as </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>working hours diminished </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>housing improved </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>public libraries spread. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  6. 6. A Cheap Fix: Working-class tastes… <ul><li>The appetite for cheap literature steadily grew </li></ul><ul><li>religious tracts </li></ul><ul><li>self-help manuals </li></ul><ul><li>reprints of classics </li></ul><ul><li>newspapers </li></ul><ul><li>sensational entertainment: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>&quot;penny dreadfuls” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Varney the Vampire </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ shilling shockers&quot; </li></ul></ul><ul><li>serials, </li></ul><ul><li>bawdy ballads </li></ul><ul><li>police reports of lurid crimes </li></ul>
  7. 7. The Middle Class <ul><li>largest audience for new prose and poetry </li></ul><ul><li>produced the authors to meet an increasing demand for books: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Edify </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Instruct </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>entertain </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. The Victorian Novel <ul><li>Major authors: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dickens </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Brontes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>George Eliot </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Thomas Hardy </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Considered a “woman’s genre” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Female protagonists </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Large female audience </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Most novels serialized </li></ul>
  9. 9. Serialization <ul><li>1860s most novels were serialized in weekly or monthly magazines </li></ul><ul><li>allowed for an author to alter the shape of his narrative based on public response to earlier installments. </li></ul><ul><li>Later changed to Three volume works </li></ul><ul><li>publishers and libraries required authors to produce &quot;three deckers”, </li></ul><ul><li>&quot; long novels packaged in three separate volumes that tripled rental fees </li></ul>
  10. 10. The Golden Age <ul><li>English novel </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Most popular form </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>new books, especially fiction, were still a luxury </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Publishers inflated prices </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>readers would rent novels and narrative poems </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>commercial circulating libraries </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>larger and steadier income than individual sales </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Also popular: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Poetry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>serious nonfiction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Improving” works on: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Religion </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Science </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Philosophy </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>economics. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Victorian Poetry <ul><li>A reaction to, as well as a subdued continuation of Romanticism </li></ul><ul><li>Passion is more tempered, more “grown-up” </li></ul><ul><li>Perfection of the dramatic persona , in which the author speaks to the reader in another’s voice </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sought to represent psychology in new ways. </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Victorian Drama <ul><li>More prominent in the “late” (1871-1901) period </li></ul><ul><li>European drama is very heavy and serious </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Chekhov </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ibsen </li></ul></ul><ul><li>English drama is lighter </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Gilbert & Sullivan </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Oscar Wilde </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Social Issues <ul><li>The abuses of the past came under closer scrutiny </li></ul><ul><ul><li>literature becomes the vehicle that helps to reform social inequalities. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>period was a time of sustained peace </li></ul><ul><ul><li>domestic issues could be addressed. </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Literary Responsibility <ul><li>Close relationship authors shared with their public had its drawbacks: </li></ul><ul><li>writers had to censor their content </li></ul><ul><li>meet the prim standards of &quot;circulating library morality.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Any hint of impropriety was aggressively ferreted out by publishers and libraries. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Even revered poets such as Tennyson and Barrett Browning found themselves edited by squeamish publishers. </li></ul></ul>