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Poverty, Fiction, and the Invention of the Middle-Class Home
Before the rise of private homes as we now understand them, the realm of personal, private, and local relations in England was the parish, which was also the sphere of poverty management. Between the 1740s and the 1790s, legislators, political economists, reformers, and novelists transferred the parish system’s functions to another institution that promised self-sufficient prosperity: the laborer’s cottage. Expanding its scope beyond the parameters of literary history and previous studies of domesticity, Be It Ever So Humble posits that the modern middle-class home was conceived during the eighteenth century in England, and that its first inhabitants were the poor.
Over the course of the eighteenth century, many participants in discussions about poverty management came to believe that private family dwellings could turn England's indigent, unemployed, and discontent into a self-sufficient, productive, and patriotic labor force. Writers and thinkers involved in these debates produced copious descriptions of what a private home was and how it related to the collective national home. In this body of texts, Scott MacKenzie pursues the origins of the modern middle-class home through an extensive set of discourses—including philosophy, law, religion, economics, and aesthetics—all of which brush up against and often spill over into literary representations.
Through close readings, the author substantiates his claim that the private home was first invented for the poor and that only later did the middle class appropriate it to themselves. Thus, the late eighteenth century proves to be a watershed moment in home's conceptual life, one that produced a remarkably rich and complex set of cultural ideas and images.
Samuel Beckett is unique in literature. Born and educated in Ireland, he lived most of his life in Paris. His literary output was rendered in either English or French, and he often translated one to the other, but there is disagreement about the contents of his bilingual corpus. A Beckett Canon by renowned theater scholar Ruby Cohn offers an invaluable guide to the entire corpus, commenting on Beckett's work in its original language. Beginning in 1929 with Beckett's earliest work, the book examines the variety of genres in which he worked: poems, short stories, novels, plays, radio pieces, teleplays, reviews, and criticism. Cohn grapples with the difficulties in Beckett's work, including the opaque erudition of the early English verse and fiction, and the searching depths and syntactical ellipsis of the late works. Specialist and nonspecialist readers will find A Beckett Canon valuable for its remarkable inclusiveness. Cohn has examined the holdings of all of the major Beckett depositories, and is thus able to highlight neglected manuscripts and correct occasional errors in their listings. Intended as a resource to accompany the reading of Beckett's writing--in English or French, published or unpublished, in part or as a whole--the book offers context, information, and interpretation of the work of one of the last century's most important writers. Ruby Cohn is Professor Emerita of Comparative Drama, University of California, Davis. She is author or editor of many books, including Anglo-American Interplay in Recent Drama; Retreats from Realism in Recent English Drama; From Desire to Godot; and Just Play: Beckett's Theater.
"After the Race" and the Origins of Joyce's Art
Joyce's "After the Race" is a seemingly simple tale, historically unloved by critics. Yet when magnified and dismantled, the story yields astounding political, philosophic, and moral intricacy.
In Before Daybreak, Cóilín Owens shows that "After the Race" is much more than a story about Dublin at the time of the 1903 Gordon Bennett Cup Race: in reality, it is a microcosm of some of the issues most central to Joycean scholarship.
These issues include large-scale historical concerns--in this case, radical nationalism and the centennial of Robert Emmet's rebellion. Owens also explains the temporary and local issues reflected in Joyce's language, organization, and silences. He traces Joyce's narrative technique to classical, French, and Irish traditions. Additionally, "After the Race" reflects Joyce's internal conflict between emotional allegiance to Christian orthodoxy and contemporary intellectual skepticism.
If the dawning of Joyce's singular power, range, subtlety, and learning can be identified in a seemingly elementary text like "After the Race," this study implicitly contends that any Dubliners story can be mined to reveal the intertextual richness, linguistic subtlety, parodic brilliance, and cultural poignancy of Joyce's art. Owens’s meticulous work will stimulate readers to explore Joyce's stories with the same scrutiny in order to comprehend and relish how Joyce writes.
Slaves of Duty and Tricks of the Governing Class
"An original contribution to Shaw scholarship," says Michel Pharand, editor of SHAW: The Annual of Bernard Shaw Studies, who aptly summarizes Bernard Dukore’s book: This “systematic survey of how Shaw dramatizes slavery to and revolt against duty, and tricks of the governing class, has not previously been attempted. Proceeding chronologically and providing full historical context when needed (instructive also are the many parallels to contemporary history), Dukore pays scrupulous attention to detail and accuracy, and his language is fluid and jargon-free." The first part of the book’s subtitle derives from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, which describes its protagonist, and from Ibsen’s A Doll House, whose protagonist renounces slavery to duty and conventional morality. The subtitle’s second part is from Major Barbara, in which a powerful capitalist, a member of the governing class, refers to tricks designed to make people act in ways that profit it. The powerful instill slavery to duty and ensure that organizations aiming to alleviate the suffering of the poor act in ways that benefit the controlling class’s interests. With astonishing variety, Shaw dramatizes slavery to and revolt against duty and the tricks of the governing class in thirty-seven of his more than fifty plays from 1892 to 1948. Whereas some characters are bound by duty, others free themselves from the many different forms of trickery. Perhaps surprising is the twenty-first century pertinence of these themes, including the hypocrisy of capitalists who use phrases charged with the words “duty” and “morality” to justify their greed as well as their devious uses of education, religion, and the press.
Charles Carpenter provides a new perspective on one of the most puzzling questions faced by Shaw scholars: how to reconcile the artist's individualist leanings with his socialist Fabian ideals. He does so by viewing Shaw as a maverick whose approach was impossible to duplicate and grew out of his unique artistic temperament, his outlook, and his vocation.
Shaw's activities in promoting the Fabians' goals of advancing social democracy were highly distinctive. He effectively used calculated irritation as an attention-getting tactic; he relied on devices that he had formulated as a creative rhetorician, rather than on the academic principles that were second nature to most of his fellow Fabians; and he devised and championed the use of indirect means to "persuade the world to take our ideas into account in reforming itself."
Writing the Public Life
A household name in Great Britain, John Betjeman was a public literary figure who openly declared his Christian faith and championed the social and aesthetic joys of Anglicanism as unique to English identity. Through poetry in newspapers and on radio and television broadcasts, Betjeman celebrated the cultural significance of the Church of England well beyond its religious role. Although a steadfast proponent for Christianity and the Church, Gardner explains, Betjeman nevertheless struggled mightily to believe the faith, and he was forthcoming with his own spiritual failures. In this master study of his writings, Gardner deems Betjeman to be the poet of the Church of England—and demonstrates his works to be a vital part of Anglicanism’s living traditions.
An Introduction to Shakespearean Comedy
Combining cognitive and evolutionary research with traditional humanist methods, Nancy Easterlin here demonstrates how a biocultural perspective in theory and criticism opens up new possibilities for literary interpretation. Easterlin maintains that the goal of literary interpretation is still of central intellectual and social value. Taking an open yet judicious approach, she argues, however, that literary interpretation stands to gain dramatically from a fair-minded and creative application of cognitive and evolutionary research. This work does just that, expounding a biocultural method that charts a middle course between overly reductive approaches to literature and traditionalists who see the sciences as a threat to the humanities. Easterlin applies her biocultural method to four major subfields within literary studies: new historicism, ecocriticism, cognitive approaches, and evolutionary approaches. After a thorough review of each subfield, she reconsiders it in light of relevant research in cognitive and evolutionary psychology and provides a textual analysis of literary works from the romantic era to the present, including William Wordsworth’s “Simon Lee” and the Lucy poems, Mary Robinson’s “Old Barnard,” Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Dejection: An Ode,” D. H. Lawrence’s The Fox, Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, and Raymond Carver’s “I Could See the Smallest Things.” A Biocultural Approach to Literary Theory and Interpretation offers a fresh and reasoned approach to literary studies that at once preserves the central importance that interpretation plays in the humanities and embraces the exciting developments of the cognitive sciences.
Criticism and the Emotions
Blake’s Agitation is a thorough and engaging reflection on the dynamic, forward-moving, and active nature of critical thought. Steven Goldsmith investigates the modern notion that there’s a fiery feeling in critical thought, a form of emotion that gives authentic criticism the potential to go beyond interpreting the world. By arousing this critical excitement in readers and practitioners, theoretical writing has the power to alter the course of history, even when the only evidence of its impact is the emotion it arouses. Goldsmith identifies William Blake as a paradigmatic example of a socially critical writer who is moved by enthusiasm and whose work, in turn, inspires enthusiasm in his readers. He traces the particular feeling of engaged, dynamic urgency that characterizes criticism as a mode of action in Blake’s own work, in Blake scholarship, and in recent theoretical writings that identify the heightened affect of critical thought with the potential for genuine historical change. Within each of these horizons, the critical thinker’s enthusiasm serves to substantiate his or her agency in the world, supplying immediate, embodied evidence that criticism is not one thought-form among many but an action of consequence, accessing or even enabling the conditions of new possibility necessary for historical transformation to occur. The resulting picture of the emotional agency of criticism opens up a new angle on Blake’s literary and visual legacy and offers a vivid interrogation of the practical potential of theoretical discourse.
Marital Violence in Victorian Fiction
“Professor Surridge exhibits a clear and persuasive historical sense as well as sensitivity to the novels and stories. I believe this study will have lasting value because of its careful historical research and corresponding interpretation of the texts,” says Naomi Wood, Kansas State University The Offenses Against the Person Act of 1828 was a piece of legislation that opened magistrates' courts to abused working-class wives. Newspapers in turn reported on these proceedings and in this way the Victorian scrutiny of domestic conduct began. But how did popular fiction treat the phenomenon of “private” family violence? Bleak Houses: Marital Violence in Victorian Fiction traces novelists' engagement with the wife-assault debates in the public press between 1828 and the turn of the century. Lisa Surridge examines the early works of Charles Dickens, Dombey and Son and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, in the context of the intense debates on wife assault and manliness in the late 1840s and early 1850s. George Eliot's Janet's Repentance is read in light of the parliamentary debates on the 1857 Divorce Act. Marital cruelty trials provide the structure for both John Sutherland's The Woman in White and Anthony Trollope's He Knew He Was Right. Locating the New Woman fiction of Mona Caird and the reassuring detective investigations of Sherlock Holmes in the context of late-Victorian feminism and the great marriage debate in the Daily Telegraph, Surridge illustrates how fin-de-siècle fiction brought male sexual violence and the viability of marriage itself under public scrutiny. Bleak Houses thus demonstrates how Victorian fiction was actively engaged with the wife-assault debates of the nineteenth century, debates which both constructed and invaded the privacy of the middle-class home. ABOUT THE AUTHOR---Lisa Surridge is associate professor of English at the University of Victoria, Canada. She is co-editor of Mary Elizabeth Braddon's Aurora Floyd and has published on Victorian fiction in many journals including Victorian Literature and Culture, Women's Writing, Dickens Studies Annual, Victorian Newsletter, and Victorians Institute Journal.