“Going Off” in Fat Victorian Novels

I recently picked up a long Victorian novel that has long been on my list, Margaret Oliphant’s 1866 Miss Marjoribanks. It features a protagonist who recalls Jane Austen’s Emma, the spoiled, clever, and maddening Lucilla Marjoribanks (pronounced “Marchbanks”), who is determined to have her way in everything as she navigates through a marriage plot in a sleepy provincial mid-Victorian English town. Miss Marjoribanks is a good pandemic read for the comfortable satisfactions it offers as a sprawling realist novel that

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Martin Willis, ‘Are we sure we want evolutionary psychologists telling us what Victorian novels mean?’

Martin Willis is Professor of English Literature at Cardiff University, Chair of the British Society for Literature and Science, Editor of the Journal of Literature and Science and head of the Cardiff University ScienceHumanities research team.  I noted with interest, and some dismay that the Journal of Victorian Culture was drawing attention, via Twitter, to the Guardian’s old article on evolutionary psychology and the Victorian novel that described, without criticism, the work of Joseph Carroll and his fellow literary Darwinists.[1] Heartened

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Steven McLean, The Future as a Punchline: H. G. Wells’s Comic Celebrity

Steven McLean is author of The Early Fiction of H. G. Wells: Fantasies of Science (2009) and the editor of H. G. Wells: Interdisciplinary Essays (2008). As well as a number of articles on Wells, Steven has written on Emile Zola and edited George Griffith’s scientific romance The Angel of the Revolution (2012) for Victorian Secrets. His most recent work is on literature and aeronautics, an area he has published on in the Journal of Literature and Science and in

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‘Of the people’: Simplicity and popularity in Brighton Rock and David Copperfield

Peter Orford Sometimes it feels like you just can’t escape Dickens. Just the other day I was reading Brighton Rock, and early on in the story was greeted by this passage, as Grahame Greene describes his amateur detective Ida Arnold as she ponders on the death of Hale, a man she barely knew: the cheap drama and pathos of the thought weakened her heart towards him. She was of the people, she cried in cinemas at David Copperfield, when she

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Rabindranath Tagore: The Poetics of Landscape

Supriya Chaudhuri  (Jadavpur University) The Tagore season has passed, with his 150th birth anniversary being celebrated in 2011, so it was refreshing to listen to Anita Desai’s reading of one of Rabindranath Tagore’s early short stories, ‘The Postmaster’, as a Guardian podcast. This is one of the three stories that were filmed by Satyajit Ray in a remarkable evocation of life in the Bengal countryside close to the turn of the nineteenth century. The stories that Ray chose were all

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Mind the Gap: Transport, History, and the Work of Fiction

Charles Dickens’s Networks: Public Transport and the Novel, by Jonathan H. Grossman, New York: Oxford University Press, 2012, vii + 256 pp., illustrated £25 (hardback), ISBN 978-0-19-964419-3 Reviewed by Ruth Livesey (Royal Holloway, University of London) Ruth.Livesey@rhul.ac.uk Living through the transport developments of the nineteenth century seems to have been a pretty dizzying experience. In 1851 Charles Dickens celebrated the opening of the new railway line from Boulogne to Paris by the South-Eastern Railway in an article in Household Words.

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Musical Inspirations in the Long Nineteenth Century

British Music and Literary Context – Artistic Connections in the Long Nineteenth Century, by Michael Allis, Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2012, xii + 320 pages, illustrated, £60 (hardback), ISBN 9781843837305 Reviewed by  Iain Quinn (Western Connecticut State University) ijtquinn1@yahoo.com This book offers an interdisciplinary examination of the relationship between literature and music during the long nineteenth century. Music and literature fulfill defined roles in British life with the paradox that, although Victorian literature has remained popular to the present day,

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Mapping the Victorian Novel

This week in my research I came across Maps of the Classics, a website where a selection of novels – mostly English, European, and American nineteenth-century novels – have been plotted onto interactive maps. Texts featured include Mansfield Park, Bleak House, The Mill on the Floss, and Anna Karenina. On each map, locations are helpfully marked with short explanations of their appearance in the text, and fictional locations have been mapped onto the real locations on which they are thought

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Punking the Victorians, Punking Pedagogy: Steampunk and Creative Assignments in the Composition Classroom

Dr. Kathryn Crowther (Georgia Perimeter College) As a Victorianist teaching primarily first-year English, I have to look for creative ways to bring my 19th-century interests into the classroom. A few semesters ago I was teaching freshman composition at Georgia Tech, and I began brainstorming for a way to design a course that combined Victorian texts with a focus on technology. I thought that 19th-century literature would be a hard sell in a class of engineers and programmers until conversations with

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Teaching with Blogs: “The English 19th century Novel”

Dr Charlotte Mathieson (University of Warwick) Context The English Nineteenth-Century Novel is an honours-level undergraduate module in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick, on which I teach 3 classes of 15 students in weekly 1.5 hour lecture-seminars. I set up a teaching blog for this module at the start of the 2011-12 academic year, having previously experimented with using a teaching blog for a first-year literary theory module. There are many ways in

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