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Irish Novelists and the Victorian Age

James H. Murphy

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199596997
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191723520 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199596997.001.0001
Irish Novelists and the Victorian Age

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In the Victorian age there were hundreds of Irish authors who wrote thousands of novels. Some had Irish themes, others did not. Many were highly popular with what was largely a British reading audience. However, their achievements were disparaged and their work largely forgotten from the era of W. B. Yeats and the Irish Literary Revival, with its culturally nationalist agenda, onwards. This book is the first comprehensive study of these writers, based on a reading of around 370 novels by 150 authors. They include writers whose names continue to be remembered, among them William Carleton, the peasant novelist who wielded much influence, and Charles Lever, whose serious work was destroyed by the slur of ‘rollicking’, together with Joseph Sheridan LeFanu, George Moore, Emily Lawless, Somerville and Ross, Bram Stoker and three of the leading authors from the new-woman movement, Sarah Grand, Iota, and George Egerton. The book examines their writing in a variety of contexts: the political, economic, and cultural developments of the time; the vicissitudes of the reading audience; the realities of a publishing industry that was for the most part London-based; the often difficult circumstances of the lives of the novelists; and the ever-changing genre of the novel itself, to which Irish authors often made a contribution. Politics, history, religion, gender and, particularly, land, over which nineteenth-century Ireland was deeply divided, featured as key themes for fiction. Finally, this book will engage with the critical debate of recent times concerning the supposed failure of realism in the nineteenth-century Irish novel, looking for deeper causes than have hitherto been offered and discovering occasions on which realism turned out to be possible.

Keywords: Ireland; Britain; London; fiction; Victorian; land; new woman; realism; publishing; genre

Book.  320 pages. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Approaches to Reading Irish Fiction in Irish Novelists and the Victorian Age

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Ruin through Rollicking: Poor Charles Lever in Irish Novelists and the Victorian Age

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Frenzied Form: The Land‐War Novel in Irish Novelists and the Victorian Age

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Grania and her Sisters: New Women Abroad and at Home in Irish Novelists and the Victorian Age

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<i>Fin de Siècle</i>: Vortex of the Genres in Irish Novelists and the Victorian Age

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