The Oxford English Literary History: The Victorians 1830-1880 (Oxford English Literary History Series)

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This is an imaginative, penetrating, often idiosyncratic history, written with brio.... Davis has written a book of breathtaking depth as well as breadth."--The Atlantic Monthly

"[A] magnificent work of literary engagement and partisanship.... The development and mission of realism in the novel make up only one of the areas on which Davis sheds light, and he has marvelous chapters on nature, mind, religion, publishing, theater, and poetry. His prose possesses an insistent spiritual vigor and is free of the ham-fisted parlance and empty cunning of 'lit-crit.'"--Katherine Powers, Boston Globe

"In Volume Eight of The Oxford English Literary History, Philip Davis has risen to the challenge [of containing the literary history of the Victorians within a single volume] with passionate energy.... The result is a book that animates a bank of information with the force of personal commitment. It will stand as a persuasive affirmation of why the Victorians are still worth reading."--Times Literary Supplement

"The Victorians...is a brilliant book. It would be a pity if contemporary scepticism about literary history meant that Philip Davis doesn't get the credit he deserves for dealing in such a masterly way with the vast quantity of material he tackles.... Anyone with a serious interest in the period will find it immensely rewarding."--Charlotte Mitchell, The Spectator

"The new Oxford English Literary History series [is] destined to become a standard academic source.... Advanced undergraduates will join lifelong learners in praising these volumes as sources of renewed and renewable literary energy."--The Providence Journal

"The intelligent and discriminating overview presented by this early volume bodes well for the overall quality of the [Oxford English Literary History] series. Davis presents a neat survey of the key social, economic, and intellectual trends which shaped the Victorian period's literature. The volume is especially noteworthy for the generous place granted to the voices of contemporary writers and thinkers."--Virginia Quarterly Review

"An absorbing and often very moving reflection of deep intellectual immersion in the nineteenth century.... Davis's work will reward the reader with a view of Victorian literature that is richly textured, emotionally and morally engaged, and full of unshowy intellectual sophistication of a high order.... It is impossible to do justice to the richness of Davis's readings.... Produced on high-quality paper, with full scholarly apparatus (including a useful sixty-page section of author biographies), this passionate and distinctive book will challenge general readers and scholars alike. The finest compliment that can be paid to Philip Davis, however, is that the hero of his work is really English language as used by the Victorians."--Dickens Quarterly

"[A] remarkable scholarly achievement.... The Victorians succeeds wonderfully. Its discussion of the development of realist techniques...; its juxtaposition of Darwin and Ruskin as students of nature; its assessment of the peculiar resonance of evangelical and tractarian impulses: all speak of an articulate mind working with confidence."--Studies in English Literature 1500-1900

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198184478
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 12/28/2002
  • Series: Oxford English Literary History Series
  • Pages: 648
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 5.60 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip Davis is Reader in English Literature, University of Liverpool.
Jonathan Bate (General Editor) is King Alfred Professor of English Literature, University of Liverpool. His books include Shakespeare and Ovid, The Genius of Shakespeare, and The Cure for Love.

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Table of Contents

General Editor's Preface
List of Figures
A Note on References
Introduction 1
1 Rural to Urban 1830-1850 13
I A New World 13
II The Challenge to Thinking 38
2 Nature 55
I Darwin and the Impact of Science 55
II Cosmologies and Anthropomorphisms: Darwin, Spencer, and Ruskin 70
III Beyond Nature and After Religion: The Future in J. S. Mill and T. H. Huxley 87
3 Religion 98
I 1830-1850: Evangelicalism, the Broad Church, and Tractarianism 103
II The Mid-Victorian Change 125
4 Mind 158
I 'The New Psychology': Psychology as a Branch of Science 163
II 'Psychology is pre-eminently a philosophical science' 173
III Psychology, the Unconscious, and Literature 185
5 Conditions of Literary Production 197
I The Literary Profession, the Book Trade and Culture 201
II The Rise of Prose 222
III New Voices 234
6 The Drama 257
7 Debatable Lands: Variety of Form and Genre in the Early Victorian Novel 272
I Post-Aristocratic: Bulwer-Lytton, Disraeli, and Kingsley 272
II Post-Aristocratic: Thackeray versus Dickens 296
8 Alternative Fictions 318
I The Sensation Novel 321
II Fairy Tales and Fantasies 335
9 High Realism 358
I Two Novels of the 1830s and their Legacy 360
II Trollope and George Eliot 372
10 Lives and Thoughts 404
I Life-Writing 407
II Writings about Life 435
11 Poetry 456
I The Form in Difficulties 456
II Long Poems and Sequence Poems 482
III From May to September: Poetry and Belief 512
Conclusion 534
Author Bibliographies 555
Suggestions for Further Reading 610
Index 617
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