Posts Tagged ‘literature’

One of my favourite Victorian novels is Anthony Trollope’s The Way We Live Now. Even though it is meant as a satirical novel and most characters and events are probably exaggerated, it seems to give quite a good image of Victorian society.

The book started as a series in the newspaper, which is visible in the many, many subplots. It is almost like a Victorian soap series! It deals with a bussinessman, who swindles people with crooked railway stock, a young baronet who tries to elope with a lady to use her money to gamble, a hack writer who tries to seduce newspaper owners so they will give her good reviews, and a girl trying to choose the right man to marry.

the novel is available online but in this case, I’d advise to buy an actual copy (it’s sold for around 11 USD on amazon) since the book is very long.

Want to read more? Here are two interesting essays:
Anthony Trollope
Reimagining Heroism on Victorianweb

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I just finished reading The Glass of Time by author Michael Cox. I must say, I was very pleasantly surprised! Usually I’m not a big fan of modern Victorian literature (mostly because it’s done badle quite often) but The Glass of Time makes a very nice read.

The book’s main character is Esperanza Gorst, who is send to serve as a lady’s maid to Baroness Tansor, by her mysterious Madame. By way of three letters, it is revealed to Esperanza why she is in the household and what her task is. During the course of the book, many secrets are revealed, some murders are witnessed, the beautiful architecture of the setting is described in detail, and we get to see some nineteenth-century London.
While the book at times tries to imitate actual nineteenth century literature, it’s a lot quicker than period literature and therefore makes a nice, easy read. In fact, I stayed up ’till late at night to find out whether Esperanza would succeed in her task! Definitely recommended.

The book’s not out yet but it’s up for preorder here.

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Southern Gothic literature builds on the traditions of the larger Gothic genre, typically including supernatural elements, mental disease, and the grotesque. Much Southern Gothic literature, however, eschews the supernatural and deals instead with disturbed personalities. Southern Gothic is known for its damaged and delusional characters, such as the heroines of Tennessee Williams’ plays. Instead of perpetuating romanticized stereotypes of the Antebellum South, Southern Gothic literature often brings the stock characters of melodrama and Gothic novels to a Southern context.

My favourite writer was only born three years before the end of the nineteenth century, so I hope you’ll forgive me for posting it here.

William Faulkner is an American fiction writer whose work is deeply rooted in the Southern United States, particularly in his home state of Mississippi. William Faulkner, who lived from 1897 to 1962, had a unique, stream-of-consciousness writing style and was far more experimental with his texts than many of his fellow writers were. Though relatively unknown for much of his career, Faulkner was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949. Today, William Faulkner is considered to be one of America’s greatest Southern writers, along with Mark Twain.

Probably his most well-known story is “A Rose for Emily,” which is both romantic and creepy. You can read it online, here.

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Before I start, I would like to link you to the website Curious Expeditions, which I think is very great and you might think so too.

Mal du Siecle is closely related to Weltschmertz (though the latter seems to have started a little earlier. The most famous sufferer of Weltschmertz is Goethe’s Young Werther.) Both conditions seem to generally occur in sensitive gentlemen who become very sad or passive because they do not feel at home in the current society.

“Mal du siècle, which can be roughly translated from French as “pain of the century,” is a term used to refer to the hopelessness, sadness, disillusionment, and melancholy experienced by primarily young adults of Europe’s late 19th century, when speaking in terms of the rising decadent movement. This may also simply be termed the “ennui.”” (Wikipedia)

“Mal du Siecle is a mood of melancholy and pessimism associated with the poets of the Romantic era that arose from their refusal or inability to adjust to those realities of the world that they saw as destructive of their right to subjectivity and personal freedom—a phenomenon thought to typify Romanticism.” (Encyclopedia Britannica)

The sufferers of Mal du Siecle felt that the world was now dominated by money and fame and older aspects, for example honor and beauty, were therefore lost.

Weltschmertz is related to Melancholism, of which Friedrich is a famous protagonist.

A very interesting article on romanticism in France, in French.
An article on Baudelaire’s degeneration theory.

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Recently I’ve been reading Women and Literature in Britain, 1800-1900 by Joanne Shattock, and it’s an absolutely delightful book. It describes both female writers and female writers in the 19th century, through essays by various writers. And even though all contributing writers are female, it is not a feminist manifesto but seems very objective in its observations.

My favourite chapter is about women and print, and the problem of women reading. Especially at the start of the 19th century, solitary reading was deemed a dangerous activity for women, unless it was the bible or light literature. Even though female writers were already an established practice, women’s reading was monitored to make sure they would not read the wrong kind of books. It is argued that middleclass women read most, because upperclass women were busy with social resposibilities, and working class women couldl often not afford literature or did not have the time to read.
The reason that reading things was so dangerous for women was because they read in a different way then men did. While men read with their head, women read with their bodies, and where therefore more vulnerable to the effects of literature. Women were scolded for reading light, frivolous novels, but on the other hand they were banned from reading scientific books.

In addition, the book has a very interesting chapter on children’s literature (for example the genre of consolation literature, which was hugely popular because of the many child deaths. Almost 15% of all children died in the 19th century, and these books could give children some consolation.) There are also chapters on theatre, poetry, the public debate and the domestic sphere. I would definately recommend this book. (A part of it is on Google Scholar)
Something different: I often get trackbacks of sites that cite my content, and usually they say ’19thcentury wrote a post about … here,’ but the other day I got one that said:
Henry David Thoreau wrote an interesting post today on Coffee houses. Here’s a quick excerpt
I guess it’s a mistake but wouldn’t it be interesting if Thoreau would write blogposts! (Maybe not about coffeehouses though…) It’s here

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To give you information about Jane Austen in general would be, I guess, a little superfluous. Instead, I’ll link you to my favourite Austen blog, my favourite Austen book, a Jane Austen action figure (!), and the beautiful portrait that was in the news a lot recently.

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“Once upon a time in Denmark there lived the son of a shoecobbler, who had an enormous nose and very large feet. His father had died, his mom was a drunk, his grandfather was insane and his aunt ran a brothel. When the boy turned fourteen, he left home to travel the world and become famous. Half of his live he spend traveling. He sat at the table of kings and princess, drank with artists and scientists, but he didn’t have any real friends. The only thing that remained of his infatuations was a broken heart, and apart from that he also suffered from insomnia, headaches, constipation, haemorrhoids, terrible tooth-aches, and all kinds of anxieties and chronic feelings of insecurity. He failed as balletdancer, singer, theatre-, and fiction writer. He lived long and unhappily, but wrote 156 fairytales, which makes him immortal” 1)

Well, that’s a version of the life story of Hans Christian Andersen. Here is the normal biography if you’re interested, and you can read all of his fairytales here.

Fellow blogger Mica wrote about his amazing papercuttings, which I think is very interesting indeed!

1) Bregje Boonstra http://www.kb.nl/dossiers/andersen/andersen.html

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Inspired by this wonderful blog, in which Harry McFry investigates the case of a missing family, I wanted to post about 19th century detectives. It proved to be difficult!

One of the most famous and biggest detective agencies is Pinkertons, or Pinkerton National Detective Agency (but they were also a private guard, with police-like duties,) founded in the 1850s. It is, however, utterly boring because this agency mostly dealt with preventing strikes, and not with investigating murders or missing families. Pinkerton agents were also hired to track western outlaws like Jesse James, the Reno brothers, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Jesse James, who will get his own post later on.

So the actual detectives do not seem very interesting. Let’s move on to detective fiction! It is generally assumed detective fiction started with Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, which featured the first fictional detective ever: C. Auguste Dupin. Of course the very famous Sherlock Holmes is also a 19th century product, the first publication was in 1887.
Charles Dickens’ “Bleak House” also features a detective subplot, where inspector Bucket investigates the killing of a lawyer.

 I really wanted to include Agatha Christie because her work is absolutely great, but it’s the wrong century. If there is any more Victorian detective literature, let us know through the comments!

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