Victorian LIterature Book (2015)Resumen Español
Resumen del llibre de 'Victorian Literature'
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Art and culture
Arts were viewed as an important sign of nation’s moral health and a vehicle for
conveying social values (sign of social standing).
It means the grown of middle class. Many men could afford to buy art.
The Great Exhibition (1851) was promoted by Prince Albert in London’s Hyde Park. It brought over 100.00 exhibits of the best inventions, designs and manufactured goods from every part of the globe and, particularly from the British Empire. This exhibition was housed in the Crystal Palace, a specially designed building of glass and iron with an enormous vaulted roof that represented an amazing engineering feat in itself.
‘Circulating’ library or fee-based lending library was one of the most important Victorian institutions to improve middle-class access to the arts and culture. It was epitomized by Mudie’s Select Library, founded in 1842 by Charles Edward Mudie. He was interested in the latest ‘popular’ novels and poetry (nonfiction).
The phenomenon of the circulating library is an excellent illustration of the way the new economics of Victorian mass-market publishing directly influenced artistic expression.
The Royal Academy institutionalized and widely accepted standards of critical writing, skills of painting, choosing techniques and genres appropriate to the chosen subject.
Importance for the shaping of the Victorian self-image: the taste for neo-medievalism (Middle Ages) and the Gothic (Gothic Revival in architecture), and the later passion for Orientalism (eroticism and primitive beliefs translated ‘difference’ as ‘inferiority’). It meant the Supremacy of Britain.
Meanings: ‘Triple-decker’ was the standard three volume format in which most novels of the period were first issued.
The term ‘high culture’ is related to the working class rather than the upperclass audiences.
‘penny dreadfuls’ and ‘penny bloods’ are pulp narratives of crimes hidden behind. (Novels of Wilkie Collins) Philosophy and religion Most successful novel of the age was Robert Elsmere by Mary Ward. It was about a clergyman’s loss of faith. However, Christianity was the most powerful cultural presence in Victorian milieu.
Charles Dickens employed the rhetoric of sin, judgement and forgiveness in: A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield and Little Dorrit.
The evangelicalism (‘Low Church’) was the form of Protestantism that dominates religious thought. It’s separated from the national (Anglican) Church. It taught that only faith could save sinners and that the Bible had absolute authority. It emphasized on the fallen nature of humanity and guilt on the Victorian personality. It also encouraged the cultivation of the ‘tender feelings’ or ‘moral sentiments’ thought to inspire good conduct.
Broad Church ‘Muscular Christianity’ promoted the healthy, active body as part of God’s creation.
The Anglican High church focused on the Church’s historical lineage and tradition, expressed through its ceremony, sacraments and rules. The Oxford Movement wished to free the Church from political interference. (Tracts for the Times) Roman Catholicism (against a healthy Protestant identity). The Catholic Emancipation Act had restored civil liberties to Catholics who had difficulty integrating into mainstream culture. ‘Papal Aggression’ was an insolent Vatican plot to undermine the nation and it meant establishing the Hierarchy of Bishops in England.
A challenge to religious faith was On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection by Charles Darwin. (Science and religion in opposition) Meanings.
Paterfamilias is the patriarchal authority and the wife as the innocent ‘angel’.
‘hypocrisy’ and puritanical repression was part of the religious context in Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre.
In philosophy, there was Radicalism and Utilitarism.
Utilitarism, headed by J. S. Mill, argued that the logical way of reforming society was to maximize individual freedom, minimize intervention from privileged authorities like government and ensure communal harmony through the carrots and sticks of selfinterest. ( it focused on individual self-interest and freedom as well as happiness) On the other hand, Philosophic Radicalism headed by Jeremy Bentham judged the right and the wrong as the Evangelicalism by the pleasure and pain act produced for the greatest number of individuals. Eg. In Hard Times by Charles Dickens. ( it focused on social progress) Victorian Women They were best equipped for the private or domestic realm and men were naturally suited to the active, aggressive and intellectual domains of public life, including commerce, government and professions.
Angel in the House by Coventry Patmore is a metaphor for womanhood.
Matrimonial Causes Act made divorce more easily obtainable.
The Married Women’s property Acts: obtained the right to possess money and properties as well as the right to vote in the First Reform Act.
Anne Brontë, Agnes Grey.
Women’s intellectual and artistic talents They also were judged by their own reputation: sexual conduct not permitted.
Politics and economics The eighteenth-century Industrial Revolution transformed Britain from an agricultural to manufacturing nation, with a corresponding increase in urban population.
The ‘supply-and-demand’ cycle required an ever-larger market and supplied ‘the hands’ of the service its needs. However, urban infrastructures quickly became inadequate.
Laws and meanings: Poor Law Reform Act:Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens. He criticized the horrors of this particular policy.
Laissez-faire or non-interventionist: monetary system was at the heart of the class-based social structure. Government interference through taxes and tariffs was resisted; confidence was placed in free competition, private property and individual entrepreneurship.
‘Gentleman’ concept: a ‘real’ gentleman, rich or poor, would demonstrate a sense of fair play, kindness to those less fortunate, respect to those in authority, self-sufficiency and earnest endeavor.
The Salvation Army was founded by William Booth. It’s about a paternalistic rescue plan for the benighted poor. ‘The Darkest England’ The First Reform Act meant politicians now needed to win voters’ support, though without making promises that would damage the economic and social status quo.
Victorian Politics: Whigs (progressive), Radicals (reforming), in the middle class Liberal Party dominated by Gladstone, modern Conservatism led by Disraeli (supporting the aristocracy) and the Labour Party under Keir Hardie.
The Metropolitan Police Force established by Robert Peel, concentrated on restraining the urban working class and ensuing that prostitutes, thieves and ‘roughs’ did not disturb public order.
The Chartist Movement: workers’ groups active campaigning.
The Second Reform Act The Education Act: encourage building public schools The Public Health Acts: improved urban conditions The Labouchere Amendment to the Criminal Law Amendment Act reconfigured the cultural understanding of homosexuality by focusing on male same-sex practices and broadening definitions of criminal ‘gross indecency’ involving men. Eg. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wild.
The London Dock Strike realized middle-class and illustrated just how much force could be exerted by co-ordinated working class action to improve conditions and pay.
Formation of Fabian Society, the Social League (led by William Morris) and the Independent Labour Party (working-class voice).
Ireland Catholic population had limited opportunities and ruled by a distance Protestant colonizer. After the potato famine, the government attempted some conciliatory measures such as modest financial relief to sufferers during the Irish potato famine.
Many came to Britain to seek jobs but they were rejected. The political Independence’s campaigns were urgent. The Liberal Party was found to reach Irish freedom.
Empire Queen Victoria as ‘Empress of India’ controlled East Indian Company, a huge organization that had previously run the country.
Dracula by Bram Strocker shows the mother culture threatened by the dangerous and intrusive immigrant.
Development in Science and Technology Railway Classics and Philosophy became traditional academic fields.
Scientific studies included in the schools and Cambridge took Natural Sciences.
Galapagos Islands studies by Darwin (On the Origin of the Species – mutations) First double-decker omnibus (horse-drawn) and national railway network as well as London underground.
Telegraph, voice recording and the telephone.
Great Britain iron steam ship British rail system was the most significant technological revolution of the period.
Human and social Sciences Philology together with the scholarly study of myths and religious systems, highlighted connections between cultures apparently separated by race and time. It helped to understand the different cultures encounters.
Exploration Disappearance of Franklin Expedition to the Arctic: Dickens and Collins, The Frozen Deep.
Literature in Victorian Period Poetry Through its seriousness, beauty and truth, poetry addressed the question ‘how to live’.
Poets acknowledged this responsibility in different ways. Fin-de-siècle lyrics dramatizes the very sensation of living.
‘The voice of human soul’ is a metaphor indicating the importance of individual’s feelings and sensations. ‘ feeling, confessing itself to itself in moments of solitude’ of ‘some hidden emotion’ The Lyric (not the same as poetry) It’s focused on themes of nature, love, religion and death. The lyric poetry was frequently stoic, but most often self-consciously sad, regretful and despairing. It’s elegiac, expressing nostalgia for lost happiness and meditation on flux as the essential quality of modern human condition.
Alfred Tennyson and Matthew Arnold: In Memoriam: meaning of death and the afterlife Thyrsis: loss of faith The Scholar Gipsy: the disease of his society Thomas Hardy’s The Darkling Thrush: disillusionment faced the new century.
Other significant poems Swinburne’s The Garden of Proserpine: irreligious pessimism The House of Life, Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s sonnet. (femme fatale images of womanhood) The Angel in the House, Coventry Patmore’s popular sequence: idealizing woman.
Dramatic verse Appealed to Robert Browning.
Human personality and the dramatic monologue Use of ‘distanced’ speakers from past and foreign cultures The listener has to be in silent, evaluating and emphasizing with the speaker.
Narrative poetry and the long poem Drew on folktales, ballads and literary material as well as contemporary events to portray moments of high passion or psychological distress.
Exploring life’s temptations Fiction It’s mainly the novel. It replaced the poetry as the most influential and popular Victorian literary form. The unexpected high sales of Dicken’s The Pickwick Papers encouraged other authors to write novels.
Realism offers a transparent window onto a society in rapid transition: the ‘truth’ or ‘real’ life.
Omniscient narrator: Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life by Eliot Psychological realism began to dominate the form. George Eliot.
Action to the ‘inside’.
Balance of the external ‘reality’ of conscious impressions and unconscious impulses.
‘inner’ reality of the characters (dreams and aspirations) Provokes tension between an individual and society (inform other sub-divisions of realism) The bildungsroman German form The model of realist fiction Means the personal maturation from childhood Middle-class confidence in the individual who can learn from experience and through initiative and effort, occupy a respectable place in society.
David Copperfield, Dickens and Great Expectations.
Female maturation in Brontë’s Jane Eyre Popular fiction Gothic fantasy and its supernatural elements and diabolical plots of victimized heroines, parental tyrants and thwarted heirs.
Detailing every day facts based on pseudo-scientific explanations.
‘Psychological states’: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson Became extreme horror: cultural degeneration, perverse sexuality: Dracula, Stroker.
Other fiction Plots of discovery and suspense: detective fiction Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle; Bleak House, Dickens; The Moonstone, Collins.
Science fiction: H.G. Wells’ The time Machine, The War of the Worlds.
Imperial adventure: glories of the Mother Country/Empire: Heart of Darkness, J. Conrad; Jungle Book, Kiplings (tales of India) Drama George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Gilbert and Suvillan.
Theatres in London: 1843: 2 theatres 1851: 20 theatres 1900: 61 theatres ‘mise en scène’ or overall performance design: the Victorian director, rather than leading actor, gradually became the powerful interpretative force driving the production.
Melodrama and sensation: curiosity of scandals and crimes.
Melodrama used the sensational to interrogate social and psychological problems.
Domestic realism and social problem plays: Tom Robertson’s plays. Adressing social problems through a clear, simple plot, natural dialogue, and fidelity to everyday customs.
Comedy of manners: elegant way of social criticism, craftsmanship and wit came most successfully together.
‘pièce-bien-faite’ the well-made-play: plays adapted for British upper-class audiences. Eg: The Importance of being Earnest, Oscar Wilde. (Dandyism) Non-fictional prose Cultural criticism to understand the contemporary ‘condition’ Promotion of British progress and prosperity Harmonizing society ‘sage’ writers: social prophets, critics and moralists (Mill, Carlyle, Arnold, Ruskin and Newman) Life writing Dictionary of National Biography, Leslie Stephen De Profundis, Wilde. Made when he was in prison Literary Movements Pre-Raphaelite Movement Paintings with this signing itself: P.R.B. (Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood) Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais Opposed traditional notions of beauty and artistic decorum Paintings associated with an outmoded Catholic past, medieval iconography, hard-edged drawing, luminous primary colours and minute, realistic details High exactitude in representation of Nature In literature: archaic diction and courtly love allusions, a vaguely religious mystical symbolism and sensuous descriptive detail.
Was much more about rebellion than medievalism William Morris ‘medieval forms’ ‘minute detail¡ and ‘absolute uncompromising truth’ Aestheticism and Decadence The Fleshly School of Poetry, Rossetti Seen as rebellion against morality It rejected a dogmatic function for art, like a preserve philosophy: art for art’s sake (l’art pour l’art) Connected to a sexuality ambiguous, possibly homosexual, sub-culture Walter Pater, voice of Aestheticism.
Pleasurable sensations aroused by beautiful art rather than moral enlightenment Love of beauty for its own sake Lately it was reshaped by a French influence: Symbolism (Baudelaire) Decadence French style ‘ingenious, complicated… full of shades and of rarities… taking colours from all the palettes, notes from all the keyboards’ Decadence: cultivation of exquisite and painful pleasures: Silverpoints, John Gray (fine visual design and minimalism) ‘calm and sad’ New Woman fiction Emerged from social concerns and opposed traditional views about female sexuality and gender roles.
Jude the Obscure, Sue Bridehead. It was the most neurotic version of the New Woman The Woman Who Did was the most successful of all New Woman novels Terms and Concepts Bildungsroman Development of an individual from childhood to young adulthood. Individual endeavor and progress: Great Expectations, Dickens.
Brönte’s Jane Eyre Commodification Karl Max Process by which artefacts, people and their activities become valued purely as objects of exchange and economic worth.
Dandyism Oscar Wild, The Picture of Dorian Gray Man’s fastidious preoccupation with elegant dress and fashionable manners.
Elegant dandy styled himself a sophisticated ‘intellectual’ aristocrat, standing above the mainstream and practicing life itself as an art form Decadence Finding beauty and pleasure in sensuousness, artifice, the exotic and the abnormal Baudelaire Cultivating sensations arising from extreme and bizarre experiences, sometimes including sexual perversity ‘a new beautiful and interesting disease’ Fin de siècle End of the century Feeling of cultural anxiety and ambivalence typical of that time.
Associated with the sense of spiritual and moral decline identified by Max Nordau in Degeneration.
Mammonism Victorian middle-class worship of money and commercial success Materialism Physical world and laws of matter constitute the sole reality ‘material’ world can be explained, controlled and improved by scientific study Mrs Grundy ‘busy-body’ representative of ‘proper’ standards Power of censorious, conservative public opinion, obsessed with the ‘respectable’ Wilkie Collins attacks this attitude Naturalism Émile Zola Rational, scientific stance through its detached, clinical voice; careful observation of DETAIL Dispassionate analysis of the human condition, including the sleazy, the degrading and the taboo Use of natural and social laws to explain behavior Violence, suicide and unbridled lust topics expose the grim reality behind the reassuring bourgeois myth of social progress Pessimistic George Moore and George Gissing Philistinism Philister (german word) meaning a person who is not a university student Over-valuation of wealth and respectable appearances Romanticism Highlights the need for introspection, the value of the natural world as a conduit to the spiritual world as a conduit to the spiritual power of the universe, and the importance of individual freedom and spontaneity Power of imagination Keats Secularism ‘paganisme’ Non-religious ideas Sensationalism Shocking crimes and social offences that form its subject reveal the secret vice beneath respectable middle-class domesticity Suspense and sinister mysteries Social degeneration Symbolism Arthur Symons Values imagery that reveals the poet’s soul and points to a superior reality beyond the world of phenomena.
Prefer allusion to description, metaphoric to referential language, and sometimes sound to sense, their poetry can seem evocative but also private, esoteric and even morbid ...