Why Victorian Literature Still Matters

Overview

Why Victorian Literature Still Matters is a passionate defense of Victorian literature’s enduring impact and importance for readers interested in the relationship between literature and life, reading and thinking.

  • Explores the prominence of Victorian literature for contemporary readers and academics, ...
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Overview

Why Victorian Literature Still Matters is a passionate defense of Victorian literature’s enduring impact and importance for readers interested in the relationship between literature and life, reading and thinking.

  • Explores the prominence of Victorian literature for contemporary readers and academics, through the author’s unique insight into why it is still important today
  • Provides new frames of interpretation for key Victorian works of literature and close reading of important texts
  • Argues for a new engagement with Victorian literature, from general readers and scholars alike
  • Seeks to remove Victorian literature from an entrenched set of values, traditions and perspectives - demonstrating how vital and resonant it is for modern literary and cultural analysis
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Davis (English literature, Univ. of Liverpool; Bernard Malamud: A Writer's Life) sets out to explain the importance of Victorian literature to contemporary readers. Because the Victorian age was the first in which reading was a nationwide pastime, the author calls his work a "personal manifesto," inviting his own readers to discover what moves them in a book. Phrenology was popular in Victorian times, and Davis describes what he calls the "Victorian bump," that portion of the mind that makes Victorian literature really matter, a point of transition between old and new, primal and civilized, faith and doubt. To make his point, he explores the works of such authors as Anthony Trollope, Thomas Hardy, Matthew Arnold, John Stuart Mill, John Ruskin, and Sir Walter Scott. Part of a series exploring a broad range of subject areas, this book is admittedly subjective in its exploration of the relevance of Victorian literature in the 21st century. Davis notes that it is intended for the reader rather than the scholar, but it will be of more interest to academic than to public libraries.
—Denise J. Stankovics

From the Publisher
"Philip Davis's Blackwell manifesto offers a spirited, polemical defence of Victorian literature in general, and Victorian realism in particular, against its modernist and postmodernist detractors." (Oxford Journals, 1 June 2011)

"In Why Victorian Literature Still Matters, Davis writes as a reader. Readers, as he defines them, are different from scholars and critics. Who distance themselves from the worlds before them by turning to history or theory instead. Readers, by contrast, do not distance themselves at all, but rather seek ever more closeness." (Victorian Studies, Winter 2010)"Davis's manifesto will capture the attention of a wide readership of intellectuals and serious readers alike who will appreciate his rigorous discussions and insightful analyses, for while he directs such readers away from questions merely academic and critical, he is not afraid to reveal the personal significance of Victorian literature to modern sensibilities." (The Cambridge Quarterly, June 2009)

"With its thought-provoking readings and non-pretentious display of erudition, the book could serve well as a useful introduction to the literature of the Victorian period or as a source of stimulation for teachers and scholars in the field." (Neo-Victorian Studies, Winter 2008/2009)

"Why Victorian Literature Still Matters is at its best when it attends to the small detail, the odd or apt grammatical gesture, the minute editorial changes that produce meaning at the most micro of levels." (Times Higher Education Supplement, January 2009)

“Part of a series exploring a broad range of subject areas, this book is admittedly subjective in its exploration of the relevance of Victorian literature in the 21st century. Davis notes that it is intended for the reader rather than the scholar, but it will be of more interest to academic than to public libraries.” (Library Journal, January 2009)

"Philip Davis's [book] ... Was fascinating about Victorian writing, and one of the best books written about how novels can work." (The Guardian, November 2008)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405135788
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 10/28/2008
  • Series: Wiley-Blackwell Manifestos Series , #23
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 184
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip Davis is Professor of English Literature in the School of English, University of Liverpool, UK. He is the author of The Victorians and, most recently, Bernard Malamud: A Writer's Life. His other books include The Experience of Reading; Real Voices: On Reading, and Memory and Writing: from Wordsworth to Lawrence, as well as works on Shakespeare and Samuel Johnson. He is also editor of The Reader, a non-academic literary magazine aimed at the serious reader.
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Table of Contents

Introduction The Victorian Bump and Where to Find It 1

1 Victorian Hard Wiring 9

2 Isaiah and Ezekiel - But What About Charley? 35

3 Not So Straightforward: Realist Prose and What It Hides Within Itself 54

4 A Literature In Time 81

5 Individual Agents 112

6 A Few of My Favorite Things: A Glove, a Sandal, and Plaited Hair 138

Notes 161

Index 168

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