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Railways and Culture in Britain: The Epitome of Modernity

Overview

The 19th-century's steam railway epitomized modernity's relentlessly onrushing advance. In this work Ian Carter delves into the cultural impact of train technology, and how this was represented in British society. Why for example did Britain possess no great railway novel? The work's first half tests that assertion by comparing fiction and images by some canonical British figures (Turner, Dickens, Arnold Bennett) against selected French and Russian competitors: Tolstoy, Zola, Monet, Manet. The second half ...
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Overview

The 19th-century's steam railway epitomized modernity's relentlessly onrushing advance. In this work Ian Carter delves into the cultural impact of train technology, and how this was represented in British society. Why for example did Britain possess no great railway novel? The work's first half tests that assertion by comparing fiction and images by some canonical British figures (Turner, Dickens, Arnold Bennett) against selected French and Russian competitors: Tolstoy, Zola, Monet, Manet. The second half proposes that if high cultural work on the British steam railway is thin, then this does not mean that all British culture ignored this revolutionary artefact. Detailed discussions of comic fiction, crime fiction and cartoons reveal a popular fascination with railways tumbling from vast (and hitherto unexplored) stores of critically overlooked genres. A final chapter contemplates cultural correlations of the steam railway's eclipse. If this was the epitome of modernity, then does the triumph of diesel and electric trains, of cars and planes, signal a decisive shift to postmodernity?
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
...intriguing... Library Jourbanal
Library Journal
This intriguing though somewhat esoteric book is part of the "Studies in Popular Culture" series that has, in previous volumes, considered such topics as country music, comic book art, superheroes, and cars in British society. Carter (sociology, Univ. of Auckland, New Zealand; editor, Freedom, Power and Political Morality) argues that during the Victorian, Edwardian, and Georgian eras the railway epitomized modernity, which he attempts to show by analyzing how railways were or were not presented in literature and the visual arts (paintings and cinema) in Britain and on the continent. Divided into two parts ("In the Canon" and "Beyond the Canon"), Carter's work is self-conscious, as exemplified by his labored effort to define "modernity." But for the most part it successfully straddles the scholarly/popular divide. With its somewhat limited appeal to literary critics, art historians, and social theorists, this book is recommended for academic and special libraries. Ellen D. Gilbert, Princeton, NJ Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Carter (sociology, U. of Aukland) assesses the impact of railway technology on British culture in the 19th and 20th centuries. First, he considers the relative dearth of references to railways in the British literary canon when compared with selected French and Russian authors. He then goes on to describe numerous examples of rail's influence in more popular genres such as cartoons and crime fiction. Distributed in the U.S. by Palgrave. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780719059667
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Publication date: 1/5/2002
  • Series: Studies in Popular Culture Series
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Ian Carter is Professor of Sociology at the University of Auckland.

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Table of Contents

History, Modernity, Fiction
Part I: In the Canon
• Rain, Steam and What?
• Eight Great Pages: Dombey and Son
• "Death by the Railroad": Anna Karenina
• Railway Life: La Bête Humaine
• Accident: New English Life?
Part II: Beyond the Canon
• Crime on the Line
• Crime on the Train
• "The Lost Idea of a Train": Comic Fiction
• Train Landscape: Eric Ravilious, William Heath Robinson, and Rowland Emett
• Returban Ticket to Postmodernism?

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