Pilate's Wife's Dream', the first poem in the Charlotte Brontes' first published work, Poems by Currer Ellis and Acton Bell, meditates on the relationship between past and future, life and afterlife. Charlotte's 'attempts' at achieving an afterlife for her poetry in her early novels explore this relationship via a set of intertextual exchanges that perform the failure of the Romantic lyric within the Victorian novel. The Professor and Jane Eyre house the ghost of an original verse composition, the inclusion of which allows both novels to participate together in a conversation about the novel's capacity to embody and sustain a lyric afterlife. The opening paragraphs of Shirley closely resemble her Wordsworthian preface to The Professor. From the outset, Bronte's poetry is given such a shallow burial that its forms continue to shape Shirley's generic and narrative landscape.
This chapter focuses on one aspect of Isobel Armstrong's account of Victorian poetry's posthumousness: her claim that art was becoming 'pure'. In asserting the continuing significance of Lockean metaphysics for nineteenth-century poetry, it provides the basis for a second rereading of a Victorian poetics. By describing John Locke's philosophical prose as 'almost' poetic, Elizabeth Barrett Browning indicates her sense that a statement of this kind involves a measure of intellectual risk. Locke's theory of language is one of the aspects of his metaphysics that recalls the liberal political philosophy of Two Treatises of Government, published in 1689. In translating Locke into pentameter couplets, An Essay on Mind encourages the reader to reflect on the relationship between Locke's philosophy and poetic composition. The Essay concludes with a defence of poetry that rehearses at greater length Barrett's significant variance with and development of Locke's philosophy of language.
This book addresses a number of concerns that have emerged in recent scholarship on the nineteenth century. It contributes to existing dialogues that consider how the nineteenth century can be thought about and critically rethought through literature and other kinds of textual production. The book offers a theoretical consideration of the concept of the nineteenth century by considering Walter Benjamin's famous work The Arcades Project, focusing on Arnold Bennett's entitled 'The Rising Storm of Life'. It outlines how recent developments in Gothic studies have provided new ways of critically reflecting upon the nineteenth century. The book draws attention to the global scope of Victorian literature, and explores the exchanges which took place between Indian and British cultures. It argues that attending to the fashioning of American texts by British publishers enables people to rethink the emergence of American literature as a material as well as an imaginative phenomenon. The relationship between literature and the European anatomical culture is carried out by exploring nineteenth-century narratives from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein in the first decades of the nineteenth-century to Charles Dickens's fiction in the 1860s. Historical fiction writers' persistent fascination with the long nineteenth century enacts a simultaneous drawing near to and distancing from the period, the lives of its inhabitants and its cultural icons, aesthetic discourses and canonical works. Adaptive practice in the neo-Victorian novel, applied both to Victorian literary precursors and the period more generally, may be better described as adaptive reuse or, perhaps appropriative reuse.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book addresses a number of concerns that have emerged in recent scholarship on the nineteenth century. Intellectual and literary reflection about the nineteenth century famously began twenty-three years before drawing to a close when, in March 1877, James Knowles published the first number of his new periodical, The Nineteenth Century. The book focuses on a 'long nineteenth-century viewpoint' delivered from an unusual source: the novelist Arnold Bennett in an essay entitled 'The Rising Storm of Life' written for the popular magazine T.P's Weekly in 1907. It explores the ways in which Punjabi literary culture became filtered in British writing. The book also provides a clear example of the issue of cultural exchange in the period and the factors that scholars need to take into account when examining these relationships.