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Main page » Non-Fiction » Science literature » A Reader's Guide to the Nineteenth-Century English Novel

A Reader's Guide to the Nineteenth-Century English Novel


The popularity of novels such as David Copperfield and Pride and Prejudice shows that the American love affair with the nineteenth-century English novel continues unabated. But the mixture of the familiar and the foreign that charms today's readers also increases the likelihood that they will miss subtle signals that illuminate the works for readers more conversant with English history and society.

A Reader's Guide to the Nineteenth-Century English Novel examines the values of Victorian society—values that arose from widely held assumptions about the relative importance of birth and money, the power of the aristocracy, the place of the Church of England. Only with an understanding of the basic assumptions that shaped the world of Austen and Thackeray are readers able to appreciate the significance of a governess rising to be mistress of a large estate while a lady drops into barely genteel poverty in Emma, or of Becky Sharpe's statement that she "could be a good woman" on five thousand a year—a fortune—in Vanity Fair.

In this accessible social history, Harvard University teacher Julia Prewitt Brown explains why making a good marriage proved so important to Victorians of both sexes and thus became a dominant theme in the literature of the time. Brown also details the functioning of the English educational system, the issues in the century's political reforms, and the restraints under which Victorian writers labored.

A Reader's Guide to the Nineteenth-Century English Novel lends perspective to the best-loved novels of Dickens, Hardy, Austen, Brontл, Thackeray, Eliot, and Trollope. Equipped with a knowledge of such nuances as the difference between a vicar and a rector, or whether the untitled gentleman or the impoverished baronet makes the more prestigious dinner guest, the American reader is truly able to enjoy the humor, irony, and pathos offered by the Victorian novel.

Content :
1 Class and Money
2 Titles and the Peerage
3 The Church of England
4 Evangelicalism and the Dissenting Religions
5 Education
6 The Professions
7 Marriage
8 Government and Reform
9 The English Courts and Prisons
10 Censorship
11 The Serial Mode of Publication
12 Illustrations and the Idea of Realism
Conclusion: American Readers, English Novels
Bibliographic Note

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Tags: assumptions, Readers, English, Novel, Guide