Chapter

Peasant or Pheasant Novelist? The Authority of William Carleton

James H. Murphy

in Irish Novelists and the Victorian Age

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199596997
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191723520 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199596997.003.0003
Peasant or Pheasant Novelist? The Authority of William Carleton

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Recent scholarship has shown that William Carleton's work reflected the literary conventions of improvement literature and was not therefore especially representational of peasant life, the reason for which he was so acclaimed. During his lifetime, however, the perceived authenticity of his writing gave him enormous authority in the literary world. Carleton's novels are considered individually. As a critic Carleton could be fierce, especially against those he claimed to be misrepresenting the peasantry, such as Charles Lever. Carleton also attacked Samuel Lover, though his novels can be seen as just as much a satire of Irish stereotypes as an indulgence in them. It was, however, in part, a fear of a damaging comparison with the unassailable Carleton that prevented Lover's defenders from drawing attention to the more complex dimensions of this work. Carleton's reputation continued to grow during the rest of the nineteenth century, not least because the vibrant world he presented was believed, after the famine, to be a thing of the past.

Keywords: William Carleton; Samuel Lover; Peasant; Yeats; morality; improvement

Chapter.  13496 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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