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Legacies and afterlives

This book charts the vast cultural impact of Charlotte Bronte since the appearance of her first published work, Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. It highlights the richness and diversity of the author's legacy, her afterlife and the continuation of her plots and characters in new forms. The most well known and well regarded of the three sisters during the Victorian period, Charlotte Bronte bequeathed a legacy which is more extensive and more complex than the legacies of Emily Bronte and Anne Bronte. The book shows how Bronte's cultural afterlife has also been marked by a broad geographical range in her consideration of Bronte-related literary tourism in Brussels. It is framed by the accounts of two writers, Elizabeth Gaskell and Virginia Woolf, both of whom travelled to Yorkshire to find evidence of Charlotte Bronte's life and to assess her legacy as an author. The book focuses upon Bronte's topical fascination with labour migration for single, middle-class women in the light of the friendship and correspondence with Mary Taylor. Recent works of fiction have connected the Brontes with the supernatural. The book explores Bronte biodrama as a critically reflexive art: a notable example of popular culture in dialogue with scholarship, heritage and tourism. The Professor and Jane Eyre house the ghost of an original verse composition, whose inclusion allows both novels to participate together in a conversation about the novel's capacity to embody and sustain a lyric afterlife. A survey of the critical fortunes of Villette is also included.

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Work, narrative and identity in a market age
Author: Angela Lait

The global financial crisis of the early twenty-first century focused attention on the processes that sustain the excesses of corporate capitalism. This book gives an account of the role played by literature in human subjectivity and identity under the working conditions of late-capitalism as these affect the well-being of specialist, middle-class and public sector professionals. It explores how the organisation struggles to reconcile the flexibility and responsiveness characteristic of modern business with the unity and stability needed for a coherent image. Next, an examination of business survivor manuals addressing the needs of employees failing to cope with time-pressure and the required transformation into perfect new economy workers discovers their use of appealing narrative principles. The book covers the theoretical foundations on which assumptions about the subjectivity and identity of the professional middle class have been made, including the ideological pressures and contradictions. It also investigates satisfying work more fully through analysis of popular practical instruction books on cookery and horticulture. The book considers how organic activities involving slow time, such as horticulture, cookery and the craft of writing about them, give a strong cultural message concerning the current organisation of time, work satisfaction and relationships. In particular, it deals with how the human feels attuned to balance, continuity and interconnectedness through the cyclical patterns and regulated rhythms of slower evolutionary change evident in natural systems. The nature of the autobiographic text is also considered in the book.

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Angela Lait

Introduction This chapter contextualises the work-based identity insecurity experienced by middle-class professionals in the public sector among the general identity-making problems of postmodernity and other cultural determinants of the group. The aim is to illuminate how the call to adapt quickly and constantly to the changing demands of the profit-hungry and cost

in Telling tales
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Tom Woodin

weaker as the unions were forced into retreat. The divisive politics of the 1980s fuelled hatred on both sides. At a time when class language and analysis were being suppressed in public discourse, Thatcherism was wielding a class politics from above. Just at the moment when turbulent change was radically transforming the working class, it was being silenced. Indeed, many class analyses subsequently concentrated upon ­middle-class individuality within the marketplace. It became less tenable to unite a diversity of groups under a class banner as gay, black and women

in Working-class writing and publishing in the late twentieth century
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Helena Ifill

’s depiction of social hierarchy. Both the affluent upper-​class Sir Rupert Lisle and the poor lower-​class James Arnold begin as unappealing children with several disagreeable, and apparently hereditary, personality traits. They also happen to resemble each other to the extent that the villain, Major Varney, kidnaps Rupert and persuades James’s disreputable father to let him present James, some years later, to Rupert’s mother Claribel as her missing son in order to take advantage of Rupert’s inheritance. Rupert is taken away to be raised as an orphan in a middle-​class

in Creating character
The work of reading
Richard De Ritter

’s thesis. Reading is represented as more than an adjunct to idleness, taking the guise of mental ‘employment’. However, Wollstonecraft gives the impression that such acts of reading are performed not within ‘a routine of work’ but against a backdrop of inactivity and dissipation. The more forcefully she argues against female indolence, and the ‘vice’ and ‘meanness’ to which it leads, the more she emphasises the extent to which it features in women’s lives. Consequently, Wollstonecraft does little to mute the ‘resonant tale’ that associates middle-class women with

in Imagining women readers, 1789–1820
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Fast time and workplace identity
Angela Lait

, but has a lot of responsibility. Where decision-making and risk-taking are devolved downward (in line with the corporate empowerment story) but authority, power and appropriate resources are not, far from feeling newly empowered, employees feel powerless and stressed. Middle-class professionals – especially those in public service who by rank, education and past experience are acculturated to notions

in Telling tales
G. W. M. Reynolds and The Mysteries of London
Rob Breton

Reynolds’s work solely by its differences, both politically and narratologically it occupies a liminal space between Chartist writing and popular fiction, but also between popular fiction and middle-class fiction. I have argued in previous chapters that the penny and Newgate fiction of the 1840s introduces tenets of radicalism, undeveloped inflections of republican propaganda often in the form of folk heroics or in the assertion of agency against both old and new forms of corruption, but that it does so from the ostensibly declaimed side of law and order or only to

in The penny politics of Victorian popular fiction
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Patsy Stoneman

’ because she believed that humane ethical attitudes, rather than blind market forces, should govern social relationships (see also Hopkins, 1931: 60). Mary Barton develops a contrast between two ethical systems, that of the working class, based on caring and co-operation, and that of the middle class, based on ownership, authority and the law. The dichotomy is similar to the conventional gender-role division, and Elizabeth Gaskell has been criticised (e.g. Lucas, l966: 174) for trying evade the question of class-struggle with an inappropriate domestic ethic. She had

in Elizabeth Gaskell
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Angela Lait

Heaven or hell on earth? This study has given an account of the role played by literature (in its broadest sense) in human subjectivity and identity under the working conditions of late-capitalism as these affect the well-being of specialist, middle-class, public sector professionals. The argument claims that application of private business values to public service, backed

in Telling tales