Victorian Age - Martini"

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Victorian Age


The Victorian Age

The novel

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There was a communion of interests and opinions between the writers and their readers. The Victorians were avid consumers of literature.

They borrowed books from circulating libraries and read various periodicals.

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The Victorian Age The novel was the best way to convey a picture of life lived in a given society and to question it.

Novels made their first appearance in instalments on the pages of periodicals .

The voice of the omniscient narrator provided a comment on the plot and erected a rigid barrier between «right» and «wrong» , light and darkness.

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The Victorian Age

The setting chosen by most Victorian novelists was the town .

It was realistic

Victorian writers concentrated on the creation of characters and achieved a deeper analysis of their inner life .

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Victorian Novel

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Novels of manners William Tackeray Humanitarian novels Charles Dickens Social problem novel Fantastic novels Gothic tradition Elisabeth Gaskel Nonsense still linked to Romantic and Bronte sisters Lewis Carrol Adventure novels R. Louis Stevenson Bildungsroman Exotic Novels Rudyard Kipling Crime Novel Oscar Wilde Conan Doyle

Victorian Literature is often divided into 3 stages:

Early -Victorians

Mid-Victorians 1860- 1880

Late-Victorians : last 20 years of Victorian Age and Edwardian Age

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Early Victorian writers

The Novelists identify themselves with their age they felt to have a moral and social responsibility They analysed their society paying attention not to offend the moral code of the period Their purpose was didactic in the novel a way to correct the vices and weakness of the age.

: they saw

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Novels’ main characteristics:

Published in instalments they were cheaper and also read by the lower classes episodic structure excessive length obliged to maintain the interest went on buying the periodicals so the reader too many details, coincidence and incidents as the writer could modify the story according to the necessity and success the development of SENSATIONAL to catch the attention, to create suspense and expectation

Wilkie Collins

 Make them laugh  Make them cry  Make them wait

keep in mind that the readers were mainly from the middle class and they wanted to read just to entertain themselves and their family


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the Bronte sisters George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans ) Elisabeth Gaskel

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Late-Victorian or Anti-Victorian Reaction

the sense of dissatisfaction and rebellion prevailed a new sort of sentimental and romantic attitude; it focused on the clash between man and environment, his dreams and their fulfilment, illusion and reality realism which rejected any the writers were critical and attacked the superficial optimism and self confidence of the age , a more pessimistic view


  The Individuals are increasingly portrayed as alienated from the world in which they live and powerless to alter their destiny The characters’ interior world, their dreams, illusions and despair, becomes more important than the alienating and mechanical external reality

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Anti-Victorian Reaction literary movements


reproduction of the reality without idealizing it ( as the Romantics did)


total objectivity and scientific approach to Literature


Art for Art’s sake


Art is superior to nature, the finest beauty is that of dying and decaying things

Realistic Novel

 Different from the mild realism first phase of the  In France Honore de Balzac, Stendhal who analysed the human beings in their psychological and moral complexity

Naturalistic novels

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It started from and science POSITIVISM , in France, with its faith in reason Zolà describes the Urban setting in a scientific way

Naturalism:Thomas Hardy George Eliot Mary Anne Evans

       Theories of Darwin Man conditioned by heredity,environment, circumstances Deprived of his free will At the mercy of an indifferent fate No longer responsible for his actions because these were conditioned by forces beyond his control to be realistic they focused on the worst aspects of life The writer had to be objective as a scientist


Verismo developed with Verga and his pessimistic view, describing the world of peasants. Like Thomas Hardy , he thought that it wasn’t possible to change the destiny of people, there is no social function in art, literature couldn’t change the reality but only to reproduce it.

Aesthetic movement and Decadentism

   England : Oscar Wilde France: Balzac with “ Les Flour du Mal” Italy : D’Annunzio and Pascoli