Word Crimes: Blasphemy, Culture, and Literature in Nineteenth-Century England / Edition 2

Word Crimes: Blasphemy, Culture, and Literature in Nineteenth-Century England / Edition 2

by Joss Marsh
     
 

ISBN-10: 0226506916

ISBN-13: 9780226506913

Pub. Date: 08/28/1998

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

In 1883 the editor of a penny newspaper stood trial three times for the "obsolete" crime of blasphemy. The editor was G. W. Foote, the paper was the Freethinker, and the trial was the defining event of the decade. Foote's "martyrdom" completed blasphemy's nineteenth-century transformation from a religious offense to a class and cultural crime.

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Overview

In 1883 the editor of a penny newspaper stood trial three times for the "obsolete" crime of blasphemy. The editor was G. W. Foote, the paper was the Freethinker, and the trial was the defining event of the decade. Foote's "martyrdom" completed blasphemy's nineteenth-century transformation from a religious offense to a class and cultural crime.

From extensive archival and literary research, Joss Marsh reconstructs a unified and particular account of blasphemy in Victorian England. Rewriting English history from the bottom up, she tells the forgotten stories of more than two hundred working-class "blasphemers," like Foote, whose stubborn refusal to silence their "hooligan" voices helped secure our rights to speak and write freely today. The new standards of criminality used to judge their "word crimes" rewrote the terms of literary judgment, demoting the Bible to literary masterpiece and raising Literature as the primary standard of Victorian cultural value.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226506913
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
08/28/1998
Edition description:
1
Pages:
431
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction3
Ch. 1Blasphemy, 1817-3018
1"You know me now, the Arch Blasphemer": The Three Trials of William Hone24
2Three Epilogues39
3Carlile, the Volunteers, and the Age of Reason Struggle60
Ch. 2Trials of the 1840s78
1"Knowledge is Power," or, the Cheap Press as Blasphemy78
2The Moxon Case and the Growth of the Poet's Income90
3Jacob Holyoake and other "Priests" of the Oracle109
Ch. 3England, 1883127
1The "Celebrated Case" of G. W. Foote and the Freethinker128
2Two Codas163
Ch. 4Literature and Dogma169
1"Bibliolatry" and "Bible-Smashing"170
2The Heretic Trope of the Book181
3Literary Law and the Authority of Literature191
4When "Literary Difference" Became a "Criminal Offence"197
Ch. 5Words, Words, Words204
1Mr. Foote's Trial for Obscenity207
2Victorian Euphemism and the Fear of Language215
3The Systematization of Silence230
4Jacob Holyoake, "Master of Sentences"240
5The Victorian Crisis of Language249
Ch. 6Hardy's Crime269
1Committing Literary Blasphemy271
2"Get It Done and Let Them Howl"279
3Hardy the Degenerate, Pooley the Obscure295
4Modern Words, Modern Crimes319
Notes329
Abbreviations and Archival Collections379
Bibliography379
Index409

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