fashionable novel

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Theodore Edward Hook (1788—1841) writer and hoaxer

Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803—1873) writer and politician


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A class of novel, popular c. 1825–50, which held up for admiration the lives of the wealthy and fashionable. Hook was one of the leaders of this highly successful school of writing. Hazlitt, in his essay on ‘The Dandy School’ (Examiner, 1827), castigates the narrow superficiality of such novels. Bulwer‐Lytton (whose own Pelham was a celebrated example) held that the genre was influential in the paradoxical sense that its effect was ultimately to expose ‘the falsehood, the hypocrisy, the arrogant and vulgar insolence of patrician life’. M. W. Rosa, in The Silver‐Fork School (1936), discusses the work of S. Ferrier, T. H. Lister, Disraeli, P. Ward, Mrs Gore, and others, and argues that the school ‘culminated in a single great book—Vanity Fair’. See also novel, rise of the.

Subjects: Literature.

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