Monday, 2 August 2010

My love for Victorian Literature

Dear reader,
As you might already know I will begin my Research Master Literary Studies this coming year. And frankly.... I am really, really looking forward to it? Why? Well, because this master will allow me to compile my own program. Each semester I will have one 10 ECT subject which is compulsory. Since you have to do 30 ETC each semester, this leaves me with 20 ECT. I can then chose which subjects I will be taking myself, as long as together they make up the other 20 ETC. In this master my focus will lie on Victorian literature. Ever since I have come into contact with this particular time period through the course Victorian Literature which I had to follow, I have simply fallen in love with it.

The changes which took place in that time period are fascinating, especially if we look at the effects that they had on society and literature. It was an era which can best be described as one of uncertainty. For everywhere in society rapid changes took place. The industrial revolution took place, which greatly changed the social hierarchy. People suddenly had to deal with what is now called social mobility. The middle and working class could all of a sudden work their way up in society by becoming the owners of fabrics, banks or could even start making their fortune in the Indies. Also, the higher classes seemed to detect a fall in morality. They even went as far as to make the the Proclamation on Vice and Immorality in June 1787, which included Sabbath-breaking, blasphemy, drunkenness, obscene literature and immoral behaviour. During that same period colonialism flourished. However, as more people from the colonies came to England the Victorians started to grow afraid of what scholars have termed 'racial otherness'. They saw the colonial other (the people who were born in the colonies and were thus of a different race) as racially inferior and feared that their coming to England would result in racial deterioration. And then Darwin published his work on the evolution theory, causing the Victorians to even lose faith in their most powerful believe, namely the belief that God existed. This is only the tip of the iceberg of the doubts and fears that the Victorians were dealing with. And all these doubts and fears seem to be reflected in the literature of that time.
Can you now imagine why I am so fascinated by this time period? Well I guess it also greatly helps that I have pretty much loved all the Victorian novels that I have read so far. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy was the sole exception. I though the book was a bit boring, probably because the writer used too much time (i.e too many pages) to tell the story. I probably would have liked the book better if he had used about 100-200 pages less. However, I have to admit that it was well written and that Hardy paid a lot of attention to the character development of Tess. So all in all I have to admit that it was a good book.

Quite a while ago I created a list with Victorian books that I wanted to read. So far I have not come that far yet, but that is about to change. I really am going to do some reading this holiday (I keep telling myself this every holiday, but this time I will actually do it hahaha). So I will probably bore you guys with lots of thoughts on poems and books ;). For those of you who are interested I have pasted the list below. I have already read the books with a stripe through them. As some of you may notice I have not added Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre by the Brontë sisters, which is simply because I had already read it before I created the list.

Well that’s my entry for today.



List of Victorian novels that I want to read:

Matthew Arnold

Anne Brontë
Agnes Gray

Robert Browing
“Porphyria’s Lover,” “The Laboratory,” “Soliloquy of
the Spanish Cloister,” “My Last Duchess,” “The Bishop
Orders His Tomb,” “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower
Came,” “Fra Lippo Lippi,” “Andrea del Sarto,” “A
Toccata of Galuppi’s”

Lewis Caroll
Through the looking glass

Charles Dickens
Great Expectations
Tale of two cities
Oliver Twist

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Complete works of Sherlock Holmes
George Elliot
Silas Marner
Middle March

Elizabeth Gaskell
Wives and Daughters

George Gissing
New Grub Street

Thomas Hardy
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Jude the Obscure

Henry James
Portrait of a Lady

John Steward Mill
Poems: “Bentham”; “Coleridge”; “What is Poetry”.
Essay: The Subjection of Women

Christina Rosetti
“Song” (“When I am dead, my dearest”), “After Death,”
“Remember,” “An Apple Gathering,” “The Convent
Threshold,” “A Birthday,” “Maud Clare,” “A Better
Resurrection,” “Goblin Market”

Dante Gabriel Rosetti
“The Blessed Damozel,” “On Refusal of Aid Between
Nations,” “Sister Helen,” “Jenny,” “Eden Bower,” The
House of Life, selections: “The Sonnet,” “The Portrait,”
“Silent Noon,” “Venus Victrix,” “Willowwood IIV,”
“Soul’s Beauty,” “Body’s Beauty,” “The One Hope”

Robert Lewis Stevenson
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Treasure Island
The Merry Men (short stories)

Bram Stoker
Dracula (the one I'm reading now)

W. M. Thackeray
Vanity Fair

Oscar Wilde
The Happy Prince and other Tales
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Play: The Importance of being earnest
Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime


Ayaka said...

I love Bram Stokers Dracula <3 god do I love it! I did read Wuthering Heights O_o;; that book was interesting to say the least. I really don't know where this book will fall on but have you ever read a book tittled 'The Scarlet Letter?' that's another rather interesting book and it isn't that long either. I really enjoyed reading it.

Blackcat said...

Ah thank you for the tip. I do not know that book yet, but I will keep an eye out for it ;).
XD At the same time I am now also doing some Dutch literature in between as prep for my new job... XD So I have lots of reading to do ahhaha.