10 Classic Victorian Novels Everyone Should Read – Interesting Literature


victorian literature books

Online shopping from a great selection at Books Store. Victorian Era Literature Characteristics As is quite evident from the title the kind of literature that evolved during the reign of Queen Victoria is famously known as the Victorian era literature. The literature of the Victorian age () entered a new period after the romantic revival. Victorian Literature. Defining Victorian literature in any satisfactory and comprehensive manner has proven troublesome for critics ever since the nineteenth century came to a close. The movement roughly comprises the years from to , though there is ample .

Popular Victorian Literature Books

Make Your Own List. Interview by Stephanie Kelley. We often assume the Victorians had puritanical attitudes to sex, victorian literature books, but this was far from the reality.

Claire Jarvis is an assistant professor in the English department at Stanford University. It seems like the topic of sex in Victorian literature is rife with misconceptions. How did the Victorians think about intimacy and eroticism? It depends. Many people especially middle-class people were very invested in presenting a pious, chaste version of sexual life. At the time, he was very widely read and admired. For example, think of Great Expectationsa novel which most people think of as quite homey and not particularly sexual.

So a central figure in the novel is a bastard. You can see lots of evidence of sexual life in the plotting of Victorian novels. Once you get to the twentieth century, you see much more clearly represented sexual life. But in nineteenth-century fiction, victorian literature books, sexual plots are often the motivating forces.

The marriage plot victorian literature books always a sexual plot, even if you think about it in the most basic way. The sensation novel in particular is centrally connected to the bigamy plot, which Maia McAleavey has written about extensively. In late Victorian society, victorian literature books, there was the Bradlaugh-Besant trialwhere people who circulated information about contraception were prosecuted for obscenity.

Judith Walkowitz has written about this, victorian literature books. The keepers of the brothel eventually set up an event. Stead goes into it with the intention to rescue a girl, who turns out not only not to be a virgin, but is also sixteen years old, victorian literature books. Well beyond the age of consent in Victorian England. He asks for something, and what he procures is not at all what he asked for, but he runs with the story that he got what he was asking for anyway.

So Stead publishes a series of essays that supposedly expose a vast underbelly of London society where aristocrats ruin young girls nightly. Connected to this is scholarship concerning the Contagious Diseases Actwhich put the onus on women involved in the sex trade. Prostitutes were put in lock hospitals and checked for venereal disease. The idea was that if you keep control of the prostitutes, you control the spread of disease.

In reality, nineteenth-century prostitution was rarely cut-and-dry. Sex work was quite porous as a social structure. Victorian culture perceived and understood sexual life as dangerous—that it only went one way, to ruination, and needed to be controlled and contained, victorian literature books. But in tension with that, similar to our culture today, are actual lived experiences of people—who we see were not concerned at all with such rigid boundaries between sexual life and social life.

They just wrote and thought a great deal about it. Literature can represent that divide more flexibly than something like the didactic essay or a news article could. News articles such as the Stead articles and the beginning of yellow journalism are interested in sensation and selling a lot of papers.

Primarily, you see condemnation and moving on. Not just imagination, but also the training and genre that people get when they read a lot of novels. Once you read one novel that has an illegitimacy plot, victorian literature books, the next novel you read with an illegitimacy plot that torques it and twists it a little bit—you think of it through that plot rather than as something that happened in the world.

That might be a good point to turn to your first book choice. Wuthering Heights is a strange novel in a lot of ways. To some extent. It frustrates contemporary critics because it seems like special pleading. And because the characters being described are so unusual, victorian literature books.

Yet that reading minimises the interest in the first generation. What do you do with a novel that has, seemingly, a positive happy ending, that seems to actually have more energy and interest in the first not -happy ending? How does the sensation novel come to prominence in the period? I think a lot of it is a reaction to the more didactic novels of the s—s. It is also closely connected to the rise of very sensational stage plays.

The challenging relationship between the aim of respectability and the covert recognition of a sexual underworld we spoke about at the beginning also comes to the fore. Sensation novels often focus on the way that urban life can produce more radically surprising social encounters, as opposed to village life. People who are thrown together in sensation novels would have never come into contact with one another otherwise.

That changes quite dramatically at the end of the nineteenth century, victorian literature books. Defoe is episodic—concerned victorian literature books the way an episode or part of a story creates a pivot for a victorian literature books to react to. Sharp is more closely connected to eighteenth-century or seventeenth-century picaresque heroines, because she has a plot-event that produces an inflection point that then changes the story; she victorian literature books to respond to it.

By contrast, Lady Audley creates her persona by picking and choosing from pre-Raphaelite aesthetics, Patmore-ian female docility. The end of that novel dissolves into madness. Madness is the only explanation we have for someone who would do this. Her assessment of the victorian literature books of a romance novel counters the Victorian angel in the house: the romance novel heroine is always dark, with flashing eyes, very independent, does things for herself. There is a bigamy plot, but she ends up happy with John Mellish at the end of the novel, rather than condemned to madness.

A lot of sensation fiction shuts down female power, or suggests the best response to female independence is control. That feistiness seems to be a strong connector between Aurora Floyd and twentieth- or twenty-first century romantic fiction.

In many Victorian novels, a typical female pair is the headstrong, independent woman and the docile gentlewoman. You get it really clearly with Lucy and Aurora. But the most unusual scene in the novel is most definitely the horsewhipping scene.

So, when Steve Hargreaves sidles up to Aurora and tries to get her to acknowledge his awareness of her bigamy, she whips him with her horsewhip.

The description of this scene starts with her pulling out a gold jeweled horsewhip. Its smallness is emphasised. The man who eventually becomes her husband sees this and controls her passion. This scene skates the line between rage and erotic rage. Here, the female vampire is sexualised. There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck she actually licked her lips like an animal, till I could see in the moonlight the moisture shining on the scarlet lips and on the red tongue as it lapped the white sharp teeth.

Get the weekly Five Books newsletter. This is one of my big questions. I sometimes teach Sarah Waters in a class on Victorian sex, victorian literature books. Waters victorian literature books a lot of both historical documents and literary texts to build queer versions of Victorian novels—this is especially true of the victorian literature books I teach most, Fingersmith.

But the victorian literature books ask: is this not present in victorian literature books original texts?

It is present—just in a different way. Explicitness is not the only way to present the erotic. But Dracula is very explicit.

Because of her power over him; also the pleasure mixed with the corruption. Stoker manages the Victorian antipathy to sexual representation while also relishing it. That fits into the medial frame of the novel. It all comes together. And how do they rescue her? I think this is an amazing fictional representation of the danger sex produces for young women, victorian literature books. First, can you say a little bit about Swinburne for those who may not have encountered his work?

Rossetti after Elizabeth Siddal died. You can see that in something like Anactoria. But the book I chose, the Victorian literature books and Balladsis interesting as a collection for several reasons.

Second, it clearly demonstrates the effect of Victorian literature books on English poetry. You can see the blend of contagion and desire that is so central to Baudelaire in someone like Swinburne very early in the nineteenth century. It prefigures decadence—or, I would say, Swinburne shows that decadence is already there. Some of the things I like victorian literature books teach from Swinburne are his short pornographic poems, The Whippingham Papers.

These are about birchings in public schools. They experiment with Victorian cross-generational romance, with homosexuality, and with sexual violence as part of sexual life. Flagellation is really interesting to him.

When mixed with the more violent idea of flagellation, how is it received? He was scandalous, as you can imagine. The flagellation poems would not be widely disseminated. They were mostly privately circulated, which is why collectors are so interested in them. But take Anactoria.


The Best Books on Sex in Victorian Literature | Claire Jarvis on Five Books


victorian literature books


Victorian Literature. Defining Victorian literature in any satisfactory and comprehensive manner has proven troublesome for critics ever since the nineteenth century came to a close. The movement roughly comprises the years from to , though there is ample . Victorian literature is literature, mainly written in English, during the reign of Queen Victoria (–) (the Victorian era).It was preceded by Romanticism and followed by the Edwardian era (–).. While in the preceding Romantic period, poetry had been the dominant genre, it was the novel that was most important in the Victorian period. English literature, literature written in English since c by the inhabitants of the British Isles; it was during the 15th cent. that the English language acquired much of its modern form. For the literature of previous linguistic periods, see the articles on Anglo-Saxon literature and Middle English literature (see also Anglo-Norman.