Music was at once one of the most idealized and one of the most contested art forms of the Victorian period. Yet this vitally important nineteenth-century cultural form has been studied by literary critics mainly as a system of thematic motifs. Angelic Airs, Subversive Songs positions music as a charged site of cultural struggle, promoted concurrently as a transcendent corrective to social ills and as a subversive cause of those ills. Alisa Clapp-Itnyre examines Victorian constructions of music to advance patriotism, Christianity, culture, and domestic harmony, and suggests that often these goals were undermined by political tensions in song texts or “immoral sensuality” in the “spectacle” of live music-making.
Professor Clapp-Itnyre turns her focus to the novels of Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, and Thomas Hardy, who present complex engagements with those musical genres most privileged by Victorian society: folk songs, religious hymns, and concert music.
Angelic Airs, Subversive Songs recovers the pervasive ambiguities of the Victorian musical period, ambiguities typically overlooked by both literary scholars and musicologists. To the literary critic and cultural historian, Professor Clapp-Itnyre demonstrates the necessity of further exploring the complete aesthetic climate behind some of the Victorian period’s most powerful literary works. And to the feminist scholar and the musicologist, Clapp-Itnyre reveals the complexities of music as both an oppressive cultural force and an expressive, creative outlet for women.
In this impressively interdisciplinary study, Evelyne Ender revisits master literary works to suggest that literature can serve as an experimental laboratory for the study of human remembrance. She shows how memory not only has a factual basis but is inseparable from fictional and aesthetic elements. Beautifully written in accessible prose, and impressive in its scope, the book takes up works by Proust, Woolf, George Eliot, Nerval, Lou Andreas-Salome, and Sigmund Freud, getting to the heart of essential questions about mental images, empirical knowledge, and the devastations of memory loss in ways that are suggestive and profound. Architexts of Memory joins a growing body of work in the lively field of memory studies, drawing from clinical psychology, psychoanalysis, and neurobiology as well as literary studies.
"An important, cogently argued, subtle and rich study of a topic of great interest."
--Mieke Bal, University of Amsterdam
"A work of literary studies positioned at the intersection of tradition and innovation. Evelyne Ender's book brings fashionable cultural concerns to bear on traditional literary texts-her superb pedagogical skills lure and guide the reader through the most difficult psychoanalytical concepts."
--Nelly Furman, Cornell University
Evelyne Ender is Professor of French Studies, University of Washington. She is the author of Sexing the Mind: Nineteenth-Century Fictions of Hysteria.
Although George Eliot has long been described as “the novelist of the Midlands,” she often brought the outer reaches of the empire home in her work. Dark Smiles: Race and Desire in George Eliot studies Eliot’s problematic, career-long interest in representing racial and ethnic Otherness.
Placing Eliot’s diverse and wide-ranging treatment of Otherness in its contemporary context, Alicia Carroll argues that Eliot both engages and resists traditional racial and ethnic representations of Otherness. Carroll finds that Eliot, like other women writers of her time, often appropriates narratives of Otherness to explore issues silenced in mainstream Victorian culture, particularly the problem of the desirous woman. But if Otherness in Eliot’s century was usually gendered as woman and constructed as the object of white male desire, Eliot often seeks to subvert that vision. Professor Carroll demonstrates Eliot’s tendency to “exoticize” images of girlhood, vocation, and maternity in order to critique and explore gendered subjectivities. Indeed, the disruptive presence of a racial or ethnic outsider often fractures Eliot’s narratives of community, creating a powerful critique of home culture.
The consistent reliance of Eliot’s work upon racial and ethnic Otherness as a mode of cultural critique is explored here for the first time in its entirety.
Sundays at the Priory, the salons that George Eliot and George Henry Lewes conducted throughout the winter seasons during their later years in the 1870s, have generally earned descriptions as at once scandalous and dull, with few women in attendance, and guests approaching the Sibyl one by one to express their almost pious devotion. But both the guest lists of the salons—which include significant numbers of women, a substantial gay and lesbian contingent, and a group of singers who performed repeatedly—together with the couple’s frequent travels to European spas, where they encountered many of the guests likely to visit the Priory, revise the conclusion that George Eliot lived her entire life as an ostracized recluse. Instead, newly mined sources reveal George Eliot as a member of a large and elite, if slightly Bohemian, international social circle in which she moved as a literary celebrity and through which she stimulated her creative imagination as she composed her later poetry and fiction.
George Eliot in Society: Travels Abroad and Sundays at the Priory by Kathleen McCormack draws attention to the survival of the literary/musical/artistic salon in the Victorian era, at a time in which social interactions coexisted with rising tensions that would soon obliterate the European spa/salon culture in which the Leweses participated, both as they traveled abroad and at Sundays at the Priory.
In George Eliot’s Dialogue with John Milton, Anna K. Nardo details how Eliot reimagined Milton’s life and art to write epic novels for an age of unbelief. Nardo demonstrates that Eliot directly engaged Milton’s poetry, prose, and the well-known legends of his life—transposing, reframing, regendering, and thus testing both the stories told about Milton and the stories Milton told.
In Romola and Middlemarch, Eliot’s contemporary audience would immediately have recognized in her heroines’ stories the plight of Milton’s daughters—enlisted as readers for a blind poet and scholar. By evoking the well-known legends of Milton’s life in these novels, Eliot places Milton in dialogue with himself in order to imagine new possibilities. In Romola, a daughter uses what she has learned from one Miltonic father to liberate herself from subjugation to the other, and in Middlemarch, Eliot tests Milton’s fundamental assumptions about gender and knowledge by evoking, then reframing scenes from his life and his epic Paradise Lost.
This strategy for establishing a dialogue with authoritative discourse, which Eliot evolved in midcareer, is complex and elegant. Eliot’s first full-length novel, however, poses a direct challenge to the pastoral assumptions of Milton’s “L’Allegro” and “Il Penseroso”—a challenge that she extends to the theology of Milton’s epic of a lost pastoral paradise. In Adam Bede, Eliot summons Miltonic patterns into situations that expose their absence, leaving not the denial of these patterns, but their echo. Having separated Milton’s characteristic patterns of choice from his theology, Eliot then began to experiment with transformations of the Miltonic hero. By reimagining the story of the virtuous Lady of Comus, Eliot discovers the possibility for a heroic deliverance for the beleaguered heroine of The Mill on the Floss. In Felix Holt and Daniel Deronda, she first characterizes a male protagonist as a Miltonic hero, and then confronts her female, rather than her male, protagonist with the trials faced by that hero.
In these complex transformations, we see Eliot’s strenuous and lifelong dialogue with Milton—a dialogue that liberated Eliot’s imagination. The author shows that Eliot opens the authoritative discourse by and about Milton to new possibilities envisioned by a towering female intellect. Scholars of both seventeenth-century and nineteenth-century British literature, especially those specializing in Eliot or Milton, as well as theorists engaged in the ongoing debate about intertextuality, will find this book of great interest.
George Eliot's Religious Imagination addresses the much-discussed question of Eliot’s relation to Christianity in the wake of the sociocultural revolution triggered by the spread of theories of evolution. The standard view is that the author of Middlemarch and Silas Marner “lost her faith” at this time of religious crisis. Orr argues for a more nuanced understanding of the continuity of Eliot’s work, as one not shattered by science, but shaped by its influence.
Orr’s wide-ranging and fascinating analysis situates George Eliot in the fertile intellectual landscape of the nineteenth century, among thinkers as diverse as Ludwig Feuerbach, David Strauss, and Søren Kierkegaard. She also argues for a connection between George Eliot and the twentieth-century evolutionary Christian thinker Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Her analysis draws on the work of contemporary philosopher Richard Kearney as well as writers on mysticism, particularly Karl Rahner.
The book takes an original look at questions many believe settled, encouraging readers to revisit George Eliot’s work. Orr illuminates the creative tension that still exists between science and religion, a tension made fruitful through the exercise of the imagination. Through close readings of Eliot's writings, Orr demonstrates how deeply the novelist's religious imagination continued to operate in her fiction and poetry.
Jane Austen, George Eliot, and Thomas Hardy—three great masters of the English novel—are three remarkable imagining minds. As readers of their novels, we feel ourselves to be in contact with their authorial minds and conjure the minds they create spread across the pages of their narrative worlds. In the way that we believe in and hold in mind the idea that other human beings have minds of their own do we as readers of the novel believe we are in the presence of these other minds. But how?
Imagining Minds explores how the novels of Austen, Eliot, and Hardy create the felt-quality of their authoring minds and of the minds they author by bringing their writing in relation to cognitive neuroscience accounts of the mind-brain, especially of William James and Antonio Damasio. It is in that relational space between the novels and theories of mind-brain that Kay Young works through her fundamental claim: the novel writes about the nature of mind, narrates it at work, and stimulates us to know deepened experiences of consciousness in its touching of our reading minds.
While, in addition to James and Damasio, Young draws on a range of theories of mind-brain generated by current research in philosophy, neuroscience, cognitive science, psychology, psychiatry, and psychoanalysis to help her understand the novel’s imagining of mind, her claim is that those disciplines cannot themselves perform the more fully integrated because embodied and emotionally stimulating mind work of thenovel—mind work that prompts us as their readers to better know our own minds.
Literary Identification from Charlotte Brontë to Tsitsi Dangarembga, by Laura Green, seeks to account for the persistent popularity of the novel of formation, from nineteenth-century English through contemporary Anglophone literature. Through her reading of novels, memoirs, and essays by nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first-century women writers, Green shows how this genre reproduces itself in the elaboration of bonds between and among readers, characters, and authors that she classifies collectively as “literary identification.” Particular literary identifications may be structured by historical and cultural change or difference, but literary identification continues to undergird the novel of formation in new and evolving contexts.
The two nineteenth-century English authors discussed in this book, Charlotte Brontë and George Eliot, established the conventions of the novel of female formation. Their twentieth-century English descendants, Virginia Woolf, Radclyffe Hall, and, Jeanette Winterson, challenge the dominance of heterosexuality in such narratives. In twentieth- and twenty-first-century narratives by Simone de Beauvoir, Jamaica Kincaid, and Tsitsi Dangarembga, the female subject is shaped not only by gender conventions but also by colonial and postcolonial conflict and national identity..
For many contemporary critics and theorists, identification is a middlebrow or feminized reading response or a structure that functions to reproduce the middle-class subjectivity and obscure social conflict. However, Green suggests that the range and variability of the literary identifications of authors, readers, and characters within these novels allows such identifications to function variably as well: in liberatory or life-enhancing ways as well as oppressive or reactionary ones.
Fisher places the work of George Eliot within the great evolution that constitutes the nineteenth-century English novel. He reports not only about her work, but about an evolving complex literary form. Fisher examines Eliot’s work as responding to “the loss of society,” the breakdown between public life and individua moral history. As trust in the community as a base of moral life weakens, decisive changes occur: the English novel accommodated itself to the disappearance of society and changed from the representation of individuals as members of a social order to the description of the self surrounded by collections of unrelated others.
Our Lady of Victorian Feminism is about three nineteenth-century women, Protestants by background and feminists by conviction, who are curiously and crucially linked by their extensive use of the Madonna in arguments designed to empower women.
In the field of Victorian studies, few scholars have looked beyond the customary identification of the Christian Madonna with the Victorian feminine ideal—the domestic Madonna or the Angel in the House. Kimberly VanEsveld Adams shows, however, that these three Victorian writers made extensive use of the Madonna in feminist arguments. They were able to see this figure in new ways, freely appropriating the images of independent, powerful, and wise Virgin Mothers.
In addition to contributions in the fields of literary criticism, art history, and religious studies, Our Lady of Victorian Feminism places a needed emphasis on the connections between the intellectuals and the activists of the nineteenth-century women's movement. It also draws attention to an often neglected strain of feminist thought, essentialist feminism, which proclaimed sexual equality as well as difference, enabling the three writers to make one of their most radical arguments, that women and men are made in the image of the Virgin Mother and the Son, the two faces of the divine.
Why has the realist novel been persistently understood as promoting liberalism? Can this tendency be reconciled with an equally familiar tendency to see the novel as a national form? In A Probable State, Irene Tucker builds a revisionary argument about liberalism and the realist novel by shifting the focus from the rise of both in the eighteenth century to their breakdown at the end of the nineteenth. Through a series of intricate and absorbing readings, Tucker relates the decline of realism and the eroding logic of liberalism to the question of Jewish characters and writers and to shifting ideas of community and nation.
Whereas previous critics have explored the relationship between liberalism and the novel by studying the novel's liberal characters, Tucker argues that the liberal subject is represented not merely within the novel, but in the experience of the novel's form as well. With special attention to George Eliot, Henry James, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and S. Y. Abramovitch, Tucker shows how we can understand liberalism and the novel as modes of recognizing and negotiating with history.
Centers on the discourse of the liberal intellectual as exemplified in the novels of George Eliot, whose awareness of her aesthetic and social task was keener than that of most Victorian writers.
"Daniel Cottom has produced a readable, well-researched, and thoroughly referenced work that speaks to a broad scholarly audience composed of philosophers, psychologists, sociolinguists, literary critics, historians, sociologists, and anthropologists, to name but a few." --Anthropology and Humanism Quarterly
The Universal Jew analyzes literary images of the Jewish nation and the Jewish national subject at Zionism’s formative moment. In a series of original readings of late nineteenth-century texts—from George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda to Theodor Herzl’s Altneuland to the bildungsromane of Russian Hebrew and Yiddish writers—Mikhal Dekel demonstrates the aesthetic and political function of literary works in the making of early Zionist consciousness. More than half a century before the foundation of the State of Israel and prior to the establishment of the Zionist political movement, Zionism emerges as an imaginary concept in literary texts that create, facilitate, and naturalize the transition from Jewish-minority to Jewish-majority culture. The transition occurs, Dekel argues, mainly through the invention of male literary characters and narrators who come to represent "exemplary" persons or "man in general" for the emergent, still unformed national community.
Such prototypical characters transform the symbol of the Jew from a racially or religiously defined minority subject to a "post-Jewish," particularuniversal, and fundamentally liberal majority subject. The Universal Jew situates the "Zionist moment" horizontally, within the various intellectual currents that make up the turn of the twentieth century: the discourse on modernity, the crisis in liberalism, Nietzsche’s critique of the Enlightenment, psychoanalysis, early feminism, and fin de siècle interrogation of sexual identities. The book examines the symbolic roles that Jews are assigned within these discourses and traces the ways in which Jewish literary citizens are shaped, both out of and in response to them. Beginning with an analysis of George Eliot’s construction of the character Deronda and its reception in Zionist circles, the Universal Jew ends with the self-fashioning of male citizens in fin de siècle and post-statehood Hebrew works, through the aesthetics oftragedy. Throughout her readings, Dekel analyzes the political meaning of these nascent images of citizens, uncovering in particular the gendered arrangements out of which they are born.
If Victorian women writers yearned for authorial forebears, or, in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s words, for “grandmothers,” there were, Gail Turley Houston argues, grandmothers who in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries envisioned powerful female divinities that would reconfigure society. Like many Victorian women writers, they experienced a sense of what Barrett Browning termed “mother-want” inextricably connected to “mother-god-want.” These millenarian and socialist feminist grandmothers believed the time had come for women to initiate the earthly paradise that patriarchal institutions had failed to establish.
Recuperating a symbolic divine in the form of the Great Mother—a pagan Virgin Mary, a female messiah, and a titanic Eve—Joanna Southcott, Eliza Sharples, Frances Wright, and others set the stage for Victorian women writers to envision and impart emanations of puissant Christian and pagan goddesses, enabling them to acquire the authorial legitimacy patriarchal culture denied them. Though the Victorian authors studied by Houston—Barrett Browning, Charlotte Brontë, Florence Nightingale, Anna Jameson, and George Eliot—often masked progressive rhetoric, even in some cases seeming to reject these foremothers, their radical genealogy reappeared in mystic, metaphysical revisions of divinity that insisted that deity be understood, at least in part, as substantively female.