A Companion to the Victorian Novel (Blackwell Companions to by Patrick Brantlinger, William Thesing

By Patrick Brantlinger, William Thesing

The better half to the Victorian Novel presents contextual and important information regarding the full diversity of British fiction released among 1837 and 1901.

  • Provides contextual and significant information regarding the total variety of British fiction released through the Victorian period.
  • Explains matters comparable to Victorian religions, type constitution, and Darwinism to people who are unexpected with them.
  • Comprises unique, available chapters written via popular and rising students within the box of Victorian studies.
  • Ideal for college kids and researchers looking up to date assurance of contexts and tendencies, or as a kick off point for a survey course.

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These innovations also had their potential downsides. To some, the proliferation of novels and authors created a competition so intense that it resembled a Darwinian struggle for survival. Publishers were no less subject to that struggle than novels and novelists, thanks to the emergence of a host of new competitors – men such as William Heinemann and John Lane who were as young, enterprising, and brashly innovative as the heads of the older houses had been when they started out earlier in the century.

While, for example, New Grub Street depicts the popular novelist as an inauthentic, inartistic, and rather heartless panderer to popular ignorance and prejudice, Marie Corelli’s Sorrows of Satan (1895) attacks the presumptions of self-styled literary artists like Gissing himself. For Corelli represents a fictional novelist who views “the public [as] an ‘ass’ ” as literally selling his soul to the devil (Corelli 1996: ch. 15, 139), while making her hero the popular female novelist Mavis Clare. Sorrows thereby envisions popularity as both the result and sign not of pandering to the audience but of elevating it, which Mavis Clare does by writing novels that uphold the traditional values and beliefs undermined by self-styled “artists” like Gissing.

First was a new breed of high-quality monthly miscellany, including the influential English Illustrated (1883) and Strand (1891). Distinguished by their large size and their lavish use of illustrations and – by the mid-1890s – photographs, such magazines were aimed at the suburban middle-class family whose members’ diverse needs and interests they fulfilled by offering both juvenile and adult fiction; puzzles and games; and “light” informational articles. This successful formula ensured sales well beyond those of the family magazines of earlier days: the Strand, which featured serial novels and Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, reached an estimated worldwide audience of The Publishing World 23 well over three million people by century’s end (Keating 1989: 156).

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