In the early gothic literature of the eighteenth century danger lurked in the darkness beneath the pointed arches of gothic buildings. During the nineteenth century, there was a progressive, although never complete, dislocation of gothic literary readings from gothic architecture. This article explores a phase in that development through discussion of a series of dark illustrations produced by Hablot Knight Browne to illustrate novels by Charles Dickens. These show the way in which the rounded arches of neo-classical architecture were depicted in the mid-nineteenth century as locales of oppression and obscurity. Such depictions acted, in an age of political and moral reform, to critique the values of the system of power and authority that such architecture represented.
This book provides a reading of both fictional and medical writings concerned with auto-erotic sexuality in the long nineteenth century. It examines the discourse on masturbation in medical works by influential English, Continental and American practitioners such as J. H. Kellogg, E. B. Foote, Havelock Ellis, Krafft-Ebing and R. V. Pierce, as well as a number of anonymously authored texts popular in the period. The book demonstrates the influence and impact of these writings, not only on the underworld literatures of Victorian pornography but also in the creation of well-known characters by authors now regarded as canonical including Dean Farrar, J. S. Le Fanu, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker. It is not merely a consideration of the male masturbator however: it presents a study of the largely overlooked literature on female masturbation in both clinical and popular medical works aimed at the female reader, as well as in fiction. The book concludes with a consideration of the way the distinctly Victorian discourse on masturbation has persisted into the late-twentieth and twenty-first centuries with particular reference to Willy Russell's tragic-comic novel, The Wrong Boy (2000) and to the construction of ‘Victorian Dad’, a character featured in the adult comic, Viz.
Nineteenth-century England witnessed the birth of capitalist consumerism. This book argues that liberal consumerism managed to steer a course between historical alternatives and helped defuse the heat generated by their clash. It shows how liberal consumerism helped maintain stability in a society that was on the brink of collapse but also what was lost in that victory for both consumers and citizens. The early to mid-Victorian period witnessed a most significant confrontation that pitted competing visions of consumption against one another. It considers the ways in which not only Chartists but also their antagonists in the Anti-Corn Law League, the vanguard of economic liberalism, made sense of hunger and mobilised around consumption. The book discusses the major scandals that rocked the New Poor Law through the late 1830s and 1840s, such as the scandal of the Andover workhouse in 1845, when rumours of cannibalism were widely circulated. An important theme that has been marginalised in recent work on the Chartist movement is the appeal of democratic discourse. The book argues for an intimate connection between popular radicalism and forms of consumer organising in the first half of the nineteenth century. While the early writings of Charles Dickens that brought immediate fame prioritised hunger and scarcity, the writer also revelled in the excesses of middle-class consumerism. The book reconnects the culture and politics of the League and the wider project of free trade, and considers how middle-class charitable initiatives tackled starvation leading to the development of the modern humanitarian campaign.
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 book is a study of constructions of masculinity in a range of medical, cultural and Gothic narratives at the fin de siecle. The final decades of the nineteenth century provide a particularly complex set of examples of how the dominant masculine scripts came to be associated with disease, degeneration and perversity. The book first outlines the theories of degeneracy, explaining how they relate to masculinity. It then charts an alternative British tradition of degeneracy as this British context provides a more immediate background to the case histories that follow. The book presents a close reading of Sir Frederick Treves's Reminiscences; Treves's memoirs focus on the issues confronted by doctors working in the late Victorian period. The Whitechapel murders of 1888 are then discussed. The book focuses on how and why the medical profession became implicated in the murders. The murders also suggested the presence of a demonic, criminalised form of masculine control over the East End. Continuing with its focus on medicine, the book discusses medical textbooks on syphilis in the 1880s and how they responded to a shift in attitude towards attributing responsibility for the spread of syphilis. An examination of how London appears as a gendered space in the work of male authors such as Thomas De Quincey, and Charles Dickens, and later Arthur Conan Doyle and Bram Stoker, is presented. Finally, some aspects of Oscar Wilde's trials are also examined as well as a range of his writings.
This book argues that Victorian culture perceived the orphan as a scapegoat - a
promise and a threat, a poison and a cure. It first establishes a discursive
context in which to read the orphan figure as embodying a difference within the
family. To do so, it describes the figure of Heathcliff in Wuthering
Heights against a number of discourses - namely, those of the foundling,
the orphan as foreigner, and the orphan as criminal. The book then looks at the
role of the orphan and popular orphan adventure narratives in policing and
extending empire. It considers Charles Dickens's 'The Perils of
Certain English Prisoners, and Their Treasure in Women, Children, Silver and
Jewels' within the context of both the Indian Mutiny of 1857 and
Dickens's own imperial sympathies. The book also offers the historical
context for the schemes adopted at the time for emigrating orphans. It focuses
on the three main destinations -Bermuda, New South Wales and Canada - in order
to consider the motivations behind the emigrating of orphans and the
contemporary evaluations of it. In this historical context, the book positions
Rose Macaulay's Orphan Island (1924), which in its Utopian framework
poses problems for the both the rationale of the schemes and for current debates
within post-colonial studies. It further looks at the exiling of difference, in
George Eliot's Daniel Deronda and the return of the exiled orphan
from the colonies to the heart of empire, London, in Dickens's The
Mystery of Edwin Drood.
CharlesDickens, Bleak House
(Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985) p. 139. All subsequent references are
to this edition and are given in the text.
Alison Milbank in Daughters of the House:
Modes of Gothic in Victorian Fiction (Basingstoke:
Macmillan, 1992 ) p
Dickens on working-class scarcity and middle-class excess
, and not just by Tory paternalist critics of the New Poor Law
that were discussed in Chapter 3. CharlesDickens was one of the
most well-known liberal advocates of a better deal for the poor.
His life and work embodied the contradictions that are the subject
of this book. The early writings that brought immediate fame prioritised hunger and scarcity, and here Dickens could draw on the
hardships he had experienced during his own dislocated childhood.
Conversely, though he experienced the multifarious goods on display at the Great Exhibition of 1851 as a kind of
There was probably never a book by a great
humorist, and an artist so prolific in the conception of
character, with so little humour and so few rememberable
figures. Its merits lie elsewhere. (John Forster, The Life of
commentaries on the slave trade issued by two intellectual
heavyweights of the mid-Victorian era, Thomas Carlyle and CharlesDickens. Carlyle’s satirical attack on West Indian emancipation and
his deployment of crude racial stereotypes in the ‘Occasional
Discourse on the Negro Question’, which first appeared in
Fraser’s Magazine in 1849, have been frequently discussed