Victorian Narratives of the Recent Past: Memory, History, Fiction

Victorian Narratives of the Recent Past: Memory, History, Fiction

by Helen Kingstone

Paperback(Softcover reprint of the original 1st ed. 2017)

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Victorian Narratives of the Recent Past: Memory, History, Fiction by Helen Kingstone

This book explains why narrating the recent past is always challenging, and shows how it was particularly fraught in the nineteenth century. The legacy of Romantic historicism, the professionalization of the historical discipline, and even the growth of social history, all heightened the stakes. This book brings together Victorian histories and novels to show how these parallel genres responded to the challenges of contemporary history writing in divergent ways. Many historians shrank from engaging with controversial recent events. This study showcases the work of those rare historians who defied convention, including the polymath Harriet Martineau, English nationalist J. R. Green, and liberal enthusiast Spencer Walpole. A striking number of popular Victorian novels are retrospective. This book argues that Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Gaskell and George Eliot’s “novels of the recent past” are long overdue recognition as genuinely historical novels. By focusing on provincial communities, these novelists reveal undercurrents invisible to national narratives, and intervene in debates about women’s contribution to history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9783319841861
Publisher: Springer International Publishing
Publication date: 07/20/2018
Series: Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture
Edition description: Softcover reprint of the original 1st ed. 2017
Pages: 244
Product dimensions: 5.83(w) x 8.27(h) x (d)

About the Author

Helen Kingstone is Lecturer in Victorian Studies at the University of Glasgow. Her research addresses the relationship between memory and history in the nineteenth century, focusing on how writers in different genres and forms approached contemporary history. Other publications include a chapter in Utopias and Dystopias in the Fiction of H. G. Wells and William Morris, ed. Emelyne Godfrey (Palgrave, 2016), and work on scientific ideas of progress in Nineteenth-Century Contexts and in Historicising Humans ed. Efram Sera-Shriar (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018).

Table of Contents

Introduction: Who’s afraid of contemporary history?.- Part I: A conceptual framework.- Chapter 2. History as a temporal continuum: from Walter Scott to William Stubbs.- Chapter 3. The social continuum: history without heroes from William Hazlitt to J. R. Seeley.- Chapter 4. Gendered Genres: professional history vs. antiquarianism and the historical novel.- Part II: Victorian historians and the recent past: Harriet Martineau, J. R. Green, Spencer Walpole and Charlotte M. Yonge.- Chapter 5. Immersion and overview in histories without hindsight.- Chapter 6. Power to the people? Proto-social history.- Part III: Victorian novelists and the recent past: Walter Scott, Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Gaskell and George Eliot.- Chapter 7. In defence of living memory: “sixty years since” or less.- Chapter 8. “Unhistoric” individuals in the provincial novel.- Conclusions.-

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“It is rigorous in the research base on which it draws; it is original and distinctive in its carefully and subtly developed argument ... . The work is conceptually sophisticated yet lucid and accessible.” (Prof David Amigoni, Keele University, UK)

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