In this Book

The Ohio State University Press
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summary
We think of the nineteenth century as an active age—the age of colonial expansion, revolutions, and railroads, of great exploration and the Great Exhibition. But in reading the works of Romantic and Victorian writers one notices a conflict, what Stefanie Markovits terms “a crisis of action.” In her book, The Crisis of Action in Nineteenth-Century English Literature, Markovits maps out this conflict by focusing on four writers: William Wordsworth, Arthur Hugh Clough, George Eliot, and Henry James. Each chapter offers a “case-study” that demonstrates how specific historical contingencies—including reaction to the French Revolution, laissez-faire economic practices, changes in religious and scientific beliefs, and shifts in women’s roles—made people in the period hypersensitive to the status of action and its literary co-relative, plot. By emphasizing the importance of inaction—both frustrated action and internalized action—Markovits shows how the Victorian psychological novel develops out of Romantic poetry. But her concerns are ethical as well as generic. Aristotelian models of development see character as the product of actions. Yet in the writings considered, perceptions of characters come not from what they do, but from what they cannot do. This shift has moral consequences: must one do the right thing, or is it enough to will it? How does literary work relate to this question? Through an historically sensitive analysis, Markovits reinvests the idea of action with its Victorian weightiness.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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  1. Table of Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. ix-x
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  1. Introduction
  2. pp. 1-10
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  1. 1. Wordsworth's Revolution: From The Borderers to The White Doe of Rylstone
  2. pp. 11-46
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  1. 2. The Case of Clough: Amours de Voyage and the Crisis of Action in Victorian Verse
  2. pp. 47-86
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  1. 3. "That girl has some drama in her": George Eliot's Problem with Action
  2. pp. 87-128
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  1. 4. Henry James's Nefarious Plot: Form and Freedom in the Hands of the Master
  2. pp. 129-170
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  1. Afterword: Adventure Fiction
  2. pp. 171-178
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 179-224
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  1. Works Cited
  2. pp. 225-240
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 241-258
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Additional Information

ISBN
9780814272435
Related ISBN
9780814210406
MARC Record
OCLC
1083082757
Pages
256
Launched on MUSE
2021-01-09
Language
English
Open Access
Yes
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