Anmeldelse: bind 22 - Victorianerne

Anmeldelse: bind 22 - Victorianerne

I 1887 blev regeringens inspektører sendt for at udforske de frygtindgydende-ofte dødelige-levevilkår for Old Nichol, en berygtet slumkvarter på 15 hektar i Londons East End. Blandt andet fandt de ud af, at de rådnende 100-årige huse var nogle af de mest lukrative ejendomme i hovedstaden for deres fraværende slumlords. Rigets jævnaldrende, lokale politikere, kirkemænd og advokater tjente på disse dødsfælder på hele 150 procent om året. Inden længe blev den gamle Nichol et fokus for offentlig opmærksomhed. Journalister, præster, velgørenhedsarbejdere og andre fordømte dets 6.000 indbyggere for deres fuldskab og kriminalitet. Løsningen på dette 'problem' lå i interneringslejre, sagde nogle eller tvungen emigration - endda politikker designet til at forhindre avl. Med fokus på de sidste femten år i det nittende århundrede er The Blackest Streets placeret i en turbulent periode i Londons historie, hvor revolutionen var meget i luften - da arbejdsløshed, landbrugsdepression og et angreb på sognelettelse gav grobund for kommunister og anarkister. Forfatter til den prisvindende The Italian Boy, Sarah Wise, udforsker det virkelige liv bag statistikken-træarbejdere, fiske rygere, street hawkers og mange flere. Hun udgraver den gamle Nichol fra ruinerne af historien og afslørede de sociale og politiske forhold, der skabte og opretholdt dette sorte hul, der lå i hjertet af imperiet.


Sidemuligheder

'Da Storbritannien virkelig styrede bølgerne, i god dronning Bess tid' lød vurderingen af ​​den sene victorianske tids førende satiriker, WS Gilbert. (Han lagde disse ord i munden på en spoof -jævnaldrende i riget i den komiske opera 'Iolanthe', som han skrev med Arthur Sullivan i 1882.)

Gilberts Lord Mountararat tog fejl. Søfarer i Elizabeth I's alder bliver regelmæssigt romantiseret og deres betydning overdrevet.

I slutningen af ​​1500-tallet forblev England, selvom det voksede i betydning under en dygtig, listig og hensynsløs monark, en lidt delt spiller på den europæiske scene.

Storbritanniens flådestyrke blev ikke åbent udfordret på åbent hav mellem slagene ved Trafalgar og Jylland.

Storbritannien 'styrede virkelig bølgerne' i hele Gilberts eget liv. Han levede fra 1836 til 1911 under Victoria og hendes efterfølger, Edward VII.

Storbritanniens flådestyrke blev ikke åbent udfordret på åbent hav mellem admiral Horatio Lord Nelsons berømte sejr ved Trafalgar i 1805 og første verdenskrigs Slag om Jylland med den tyske flåde i 1916.

I den victorianske tidsalder var Storbritannien verdens mest magtfulde nation. Selvom det ikke altid var let, kunne det opretholde en verdensorden, der sjældent truede Storbritanniens bredere strategiske interesser.

Den eneste europæiske konflikt kæmpede under Victorias regeringstid - Krimkrigen i 1854 - 1856 - i kontrast til markant med 1700 -tallet, hvor briterne var involveret i mindst fem store krige, hvoraf ingen varede mindre end syv år.

Victorianerne mente, at fred var en nødvendig forudsætning for langsigtet velstand.


Tom Mole, Hvad viktorianerne lavede af romantik: Materielle artefakter, kulturpraksis og modtagelseshistorie. Princeton og Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2017. Pp. 317. $ 45. ISBN 9781400887897.

Tom Moles forbløffende originale nye bog spørger, hvad viktorianerne lavede af romantik. Mole tilbyder sin bog som en protest mod dominansen i kritiske undersøgelser af, hvad han betegner 'punktlig historicisme', forestillingen om, at et litterært værk bedst forstås i forhold til tidspunktet for dets sammensætning eller udgivelse. Men han er ikke den første elev af romantiske efterliv. Det er den aggressivt materialistiske fremstilling af spørgsmålet, der angiver den afgørende forskel mellem denne og tidligere undersøgelser af modtagelsen af ​​romantikerne i det senere nittende århundrede. Mole er ikke interesseret i at spore de romantiske digters indflydelse på deres efterfølgeres arbejde eller i at spore vagierne i deres kritiske formuer. Han er i stedet interesseret i, hvordan romantikerne blev indkvarteret inden for viktoriansk kulturel praksis. Han er ikke bekymret over, hvordan Walter Scott påvirkede udviklingen af ​​den victorianske roman, men hvordan han blev mindet i et grandiost Edinburgh -monument, og hvordan dette monument i sig selv blev gengivet ikke kun i graveringer, men på postkort og cigaretkort.

Mole forfølger sin undersøgelse på fire områder, hvoraf kun det sidste har været genstand for tidligere kritisk opmærksomhed. Han undersøger viktorianske illustrerede udgaver af romantiske digtere, den victorianske indsats for at kristne kandidater lige så usandsynlige som Byron og Shelley, der med overraskende hyppighed optræder i prædikener for victorianske evangeliske, de fysiske monumenter over de romantiske digtere, der blev rejst af viktorianerne, og repræsentationen af de romantiske digtere i victorianske antologier. Viktorianske antologier er blevet diskuteret før, men Mole har på en vidunderlig visning af den videnskabelige energi, der kendetegner hele bindet, undersøgt 210 af dem udgivet mellem 1822 og 1900. Hans bog åbner et nyt videnskabeligt felt og efterlader uundgåeligt meget af det uopdyrket. Han ser på fire områder, og andre vil straks foreslå sig selv: henvisninger til romantikerne i Royal Academy -malerier, i kommercielle reklamer og så videre. Hans er en bog, der opnår meget, og den vil tilskynde endnu mere.

Jeg har nogle mindre forbehold. Mole formoder, at viktorianerne og romantikerne blev adskilt af et generationsgab, som viktorianerne reagerede på ved at indarbejde romantiske digtere i viktorianske teknologier, ved f.eks. Produktion af et bind fotografier, der skulle belyse Wordsworths digte. I Moles udtryk bevarede romantikerne kun deres kulturelle vitalitet ved at blive 'afhjulpet'. Men Shelley og Keats, selv Jane Austen, var lidt kendte i deres levetid og blev kun kulturelt fremtrædende i den victorianske periode, og Blake var næppe kendt før Gilchrists biografi fra 1863. Mole formoder, at romantikerne blev stødt på deres samtidige i de mængder, de udgav, og det kan være tilfældet for Scott og Byron, men ikke for mange andre. Da Byron spurgte James Kennedy, om han havde læst Shelley, indrømmede Kennedy, at han aldrig havde set nogen af ​​hans skrifter, men havde stødt på nogle 'ekstrakter' i Kvartalsvis gennemgang. En af Jane Austens karakterer bemærker, at Wordsworth havde poesiens 'sande sjæl', men det ville være udslæt at udlede heraf, at Austen nogensinde havde haft et bind af Wordsworths digte i sine hænder. Det meste af det arbejde, vi nu betragter som romantisk, blev ikke bare stødt på af viktorianerne i 'anden form'. Det var stødt på sådan af romantikernes samtidige.

I sin analyse af victorianske antologier anvender Mole en 'kvantitativ metode' for at sætte spørgsmålstegn ved den 'eksemplariske' metode, der mere almindeligt anvendes af litteraturkritikere, men i resten af ​​bogen er Mole en ekstravagant eksponent for den eksemplariske metode, som han her holder under mistanke. Han inkluderer en diskussion af forholdet mellem frontispiece og titelblad, de to sider ofte adskilt af en side silkepapir i illustrerede udgaver af Byron og Hemans. I frontstykket monumentaliserer et portræt, ofte nyklassicistisk, forfatteren, mens titelbladet indeholder en vignet, der fremkalder forfatterens levende tilstedeværelse. De to sider arbejder sammen for at tilfredsstille de to modstridende krav, som viktorianske læsere stillede til fortidens litteratur. Diskussionen viser Mole på sit mest geniale, og den er baseret på tre bind, to af dem fra samme serie. Når Mole arbejder kvantitativt, synes diskussionen derimod noget uafklaret. Praksis fra victorianske antologer viser sig at have været næsten præcis, hvad man altid havde antaget. Det er noget af en lettelse, når Mole vender tilbage til den eksemplariske metode i en mousserende coda, der viser afhjælpningsprocessen, der pågår i det enogtyvende århundrede. Taxaer i den olympiske afslutningsceremoni var papirbeskyttet med fragmentariske og knap nok dechifrerbare citater fra 'Ozymandias' og 'She goes in beauty like the night', og Byrons lyrik gav også teksten til graffitikunstneren Arofishs slankede fodgænger, der stencileres på forskellige bygninger i London uden for stadion. Hvad viktorianerne lavede af romantik er en stor bedrift.


High Minds: The Victorians and the Birth of Modern Britain af Simon Heffer - anmeldelse

T her er noget meget viktoriansk ved Simon Heffers bog om victorianerne. På næsten 900 sider emmer det af en can-do tillid til sin enorme opgave, som er at forklare, hvordan det moderne Storbritannien blev til i midten af ​​1800-tallet. High Minds er lige så solidt ombundet som en bro af Brunel, og der er flyvende støtter, der ville give Ruskin en spænding. Heffers stemme er hele vejen igennem en testet skolemester, der forsøger at finde fakta ind i en klasse af kråkeboller, der foretrækker at være ude og vælge lommer. Mest victoriansk af alle er dog hans holdning til sin egen konstruktion af fortiden, som til enhver tid forbliver smertefuld alvor.

Fokus for High Minds er perioden mellem 1840 og 1880, hvor Storbritannien forvandlede sig fra et malerisk, lurende, barbarisk sted til en demokratisk, civiliseret nation, hvor det smigrende er muligt at få øje på begyndelsen af ​​vores egen tid. I starten af ​​perioden er der kolera, maskinbrud og otte-årige ned miner-en Oliver Twist landskab af håbløshed og beskidte næser. I slutningen, da Gladstone begynder sin anden periode ved magten, er der rådhuse, hospitaler, gifte kvinder med deres egen ejendom og fuldstændig mave hele vejen rundt.

Du kunne redegøre for denne transformation på alle mulige måder, men Heffer har besluttet at følge Thomas Carlyles ledelse, om hvem han skrev en biografi for næsten 20 år siden. Carlyle mente berømt, at "verdens historie kun er stormænds biografi", og Heffer organiserer sin fortælling omkring de intellektuelle og politiske karrierer i en række store viktorianere, herunder Peel, Gladstone, Carlyle, Shaftsbury, Prince Albert og ovenfor alle, Thomas og Matthew Arnold.

Faktisk gør han det dristige valg at bruge Thomas Arnold, den reformerende forstander for Rugby, som emnet for hans prolog. Arnold (nedenfor) er ikke den slags mand, du forventer at finde sparket i gang med en bog om viktorianerne rettet mod den generelle læser. For en ting døde han i 1842, da dronningen kun var fem år inde i hendes regeringstid. For en anden skal hans ekspertiseområde-uddannelse af sønnerne til de rimeligt velstillede-være, hvis ikke ligefrem en minoritetsinteresse, så ikke en publikumsbehag. Men det bliver hurtigt klart, at Heffer ser Arnold som det emblematiske offer for successive bølger af anti-viktorianisme, der skyllede over Storbritannien i det 20. århundrede, væltede helte og besnærende omdømme. Og nu rider Heffer til undsætning, som en ridder ud af en af ​​Walter Scotts feudale fantasier, for at rette uret og genoprette moralsk orden.

Det første og største slag landede på Arnolds skæve kæbe i 1918, da Lytton Strachey valgte ham som en af ​​hans "fremtrædende victorianere" og derefter fortsatte med at skære ham i størrelse (bogstaveligt talt - Strachey insisterede på intet bevis på, at den store mands ben var for kort til sin krop). Arnolds udmattende alvor, hans ønske om at gøre livet til en sitrende kamp mellem godt og ondt, selv hans faldende angina i en alder af 46 år blev på en eller anden måde sjov, da han en gang blev sigtet gennem det fine net af Stracheys vid. Følgelig haltede den gode læge gennem det 20. århundrede som den mest forfærdelige kedelighed og dukkede op i skærmtilpasninger af Tom Browns Schooldays bevæbnet med et lager af moralske homilier leveret i et blomstrende basso profundo under kapellet søndag morgen.

Heffer forklarer Stracheys karaktermord med hensyn til Bloomsburyites harme over at blive mobbet på sin egen offentlige skole, og fortsætter derefter med at genoprette rektor for Rugby til sine retmæssige proportioner. Frem for alt fik han en hel generation af privilegerede unge mænd til at indse, at de havde en moralsk pligt til at arbejde til andres bedste. Mens elite-etonierne fortsatte med at hvirvle rundt i deres egen moralske snavs, blev de subalterne rugbeianere trænet i et liv, der var seriøst, generøst og, når det var nødvendigt, selvopofrende. Det var den moralske energi, der blev spredt gennem Arnolds proteges i den efterfølgende generation, der forvandlede den tidlige victorianske etos med skarpe albuer til en kultur fra midten af ​​århundredet med en stærk public service.

Blandt denne anden generation af Arnoldianere forsøgte ingen hårdere at sprede evangeliet om at være seriøs end lægens egen søn. I Kultur og anarki, Opfordrede Matthew Arnold nationen til at vedtage den "sødme og lys" fra den klassiske civilisation for at dæmpe den grove utilitarisme fra den anden far og søns dobbeltakt, James og John Stuart Mill. Til venstre for møllerne advarede Arnold om, at Storbritannien ville blive forvandlet til et beancounting -ødemark, hvor værdige pedanter ville travle om at forsøge at skabe den største lykke for det største antal uden at have en anelse om undren og glæde. Du kan ændre loven, give folk stemme, endda give uddannelsesklassen til arbejderklasserne, men alt du ville ende med var en kedelig rådhusmoral, hvor alle syntes det samme. Arnold havde et ord for det - filistinisme - og, snob, som han var, troede det sandsynligvis talte med en Manchester accent.

Indtil videre Carlylean. Mere interessant, fordi det er mere uventet, er den opmærksomhed, Heffer betaler til de viktorianere, der ikke helt gør karakteren som højt sind eller helte. Ligesom Arnold sidstnævnte gennemgik Heffer sine slutterminerapporter, tilføjede kommentarer og reviderede klassens rækkefølge for at afspejle en sandere placering. For eksempel producerede historikeren JA Froude, som ingen læser nu, "et af 1800 -tallets store værker" og fortjener at stå foran Macaulay. Arthur Hugh Clough kunne have været en udfordrer, men rodede tingene op ved at være for nervøs til sit eget bedste. Så er der de viktorianere, der aldrig ville blive huskaptajn, men ikke desto mindre spillede en fast rolle i Storbritanniens overgang til modernitet. I denne kategori kommer George Gilbert Scott, (arkitekten på St Pancras Midland Grand Hotel og Udenrigsministeriet), Henry Cole (en travl person, der opfandt julekortet som en udløber af Penny Post) og Robert Lowe (Gladstones albino -hjemmesekretær, der indført "betaling med resultater" for folkeskolelærere).


Queer, erotomaner og viktorianere

Enhver historiker, der analyserer en historisk roman, er nødt til at virke lidt pedantisk og tage en spade til den ordsprogede soufflé, men her går. Det ville selvfølgelig være tåbeligt at begynde at måle Fingersmed mod de 'virkelige' historiske kilder, da det ikke er min opgave her at kræve, at det er 'mere autentisk', mere som de faktiske historiske beretninger fremlagt af Ian Gibson og lignende, men at undersøge årsagerne til, at visse historier om fortiden og ikke andre er kommet på banen. Hovedårsagen til, at motiverne til Fingersmed er så velkendte og vedvarende, tror jeg, at for alle faghistorikerens faktaudvikling skyldes vores syn på den victorianske fortid langt mere sin litterære arv end nogen lærd fodnote.

Dette viser sig ved, at Fingersmed var en del af en bølge af 'neo-victoriansk' fiktion, der opstod i 1990'erne og omfatter Michel Fabers Det Crimson kronblad og det hvide (2002) og Waters ’to andre victorianske romaner At vippe fløjlen (1999) og Tilhørsforhold (2002), selvom hun siden er gået videre til 1940'erne (Nattevagten, og Den lille fremmede). Disse bøger er kendetegnet ved en slags pastiche - de forsøger ikke at skjule deres kildemateriale (Dickens, Mayhew, sensationsromanen, samfundsundersøgelser, akademisk litterær kritik), men praler i stedet med deres fiktivitet og bærer det stolt som et æresmærke , en slags hyldest til fru Braddon et al. Denne holdning-eksemplificeret ved den sandsynlige, men sammensatte slang, der danner deres titler-er et forsøg på at bebo snarere end at transcendere ens kilder, at gøre victoriansk fiktion så trofast som muligt, men at inkludere de bits, der ikke kunne siges eller afbildes på tiden og tilføjer derved en moderne sensibilitet. Gjorde dårligt, som i den nylige BBC -tilpasning af Fabers roman, kan resultatet virke som et sæt gotiske klicheer, der er lagt ende til ende: desperat middelklassehustru kvalt af hjemlighed - tjek onde borgerlige paterfamilier, der holder hemmelige prostituerede/forfølger dobbeltliv - tjek gal kvinde på loftet, eller er ved at være indespærret der - tjek gale læger om at udføre forfærdelige procedurer på den gale kvinde - tjek seksuelt undertrykte evangelisk moralsk hykler - tjek dobbeltgængere mørke, dystre hus i landet efterligning purloined breve tåger tjekker, tjekker, tjekker. Pointen er ikke at benægte, at disse ting skete eller eksisterede i det 19. århundrede, men snarere at spørge ind til, hvorfor netop disse troper og historier, og ikke andre, har vist sig så utroligt holdbare. Hvorfor har vi brug for, at viktorianerne er de frygtelige hyklere, som disse romaner forestiller sig? Hvorfor kræver vi, at disse ting er det evige tegn på 'den victorianske'?

Fingersmed starter i en tyvehule i bydelen London. Sue Trinder, en forældreløs, hvis mor, hun formoder, var blevet hængt for mord, er en fingersmed - en lommetyv. Hun bor i huset til fru Sucksby, en baby-landmand og den matriarkalske hersker over hendes lille bande. Sue er ansat af den skånsomme svigmand Richard Rivers (kendt som 'Gentleman') i en ordning for at bedrage en arving, Maud Lilly, af hendes arv. Hun skal gå til Mauds passende dystre hus på landet som hendes damers stuepige, for at vinde hendes tillid og fungere som chaperone, mens Rivers, der lærer Maud tegning, forfører og bærer hende afsted. Efter at have giftet sig med hende, siger Rivers, at han derefter vil fange Maud i et asyl og stjæle hendes penge og give Sue hendes andel. Maud er dog ingen almindelig arving. Hendes onkel, Christopher Lilly, er en obsessiv samler af erotik og ansætter Maud som sin assistent. Hver dag læser hun bøger fra hans bibliotek, så han kan udarbejde en udtømmende bibliografi over seksuelle handlinger og perversioner. Konspirationen kompliceres af, at Sue og Maud langsomt forelsker sig, men det forhindrer ikke Sue i at opfylde sin del af handlen med Gentleman. Dette afsnit af historien er fortalt fra Sues perspektiv, og vi føler, at vi kender denne historie med alle dens gotiske troper, men glansen af Fingersmed er, at det hovedsageligt angiver temaerne for sensationsfiktion som en måde at lulle læseren ind i en slags falsk sikkerhed. Vi kender denne historie, og denne hovedperson, tænker vi, ligesom Sue er så sikker på sig selv og sikker på, hvad der sker. Vi er så nedsænket i Sues synspunkt, så bekendt med det, at den pludselige demonstration af, at alt ikke er, hvad det ser ud til, er desto mere effektivt.

Når Sue og Gentleman ankommer til det galehus, hvor Maud skal begraves, er det dobbeltgængeren Sue, og ikke Maud, der tages væk for at blive låst inde. Det viser sig, at hele ordningen er blevet drømt af fru Sucksby med Sue, ikke Maud, som patsy. Hun har gjort dette, fordi det er Maud, og ikke Sue, der er hendes rigtige datter. Sytten år tidligere havde fru Sucksby hjulpet en dame ved navn Marianne Lilly med at føde en uægte datter. Den døende Marianne fortvivler over den skæbne, der venter hendes datter - for at blive genvundet af hendes familie og for evigt indesluttet i gentilitetens præg. Hun indgår en aftale med fru Sucksby - de vil skifte baby. Så fru Sucksby sender sin egen datter, Maud, for at leve et liv i livlig luksus med Lillys i landet, mens Mariannes datter (Sue) forbliver i bydelen. For at gøre krav på Lillys formue, som vil komme til Sue efterhånden, hvis hendes sande identitet bliver fundet ud, skal fru Sucksby genvinde sin egen datter (Maud) og indlede hende i plottet samt sende Sue (den virkelige arving) ud til galhuset. Sue er låst inde, men undslipper takket være sensationens standby, det usandsynlige tilfældighed. Hun vender tilbage til bydelen og konfronterer fru Sucksby, Maud og Gentleman. Der er et slagsmål og Gentleman er dødeligt stukket, det er ikke klart af hvem - Maud eller fru Sucksby - men matriarken erkender sin skyld for at redde den datter, hun er vokset til at elske, bliver anholdt og hængt. Sue lærer endelig sandheden, men vender tilbage i et fantastisk tilgivende humør til Maud (som nu indtager det smuldrende hus i landet). De erklærer deres kærlighed til hinanden og forpligter sig til en fremtid at leve af at skrive den samme pornografi, som Maud havde brugt sit liv på at recitere.

Jeg vil ikke antyde, at Waters er en fanger af historikerne, endnu mindre at de, ligesom fru Sucksby, gemmer sig bag hver fortællende drejning. Det er imidlertid interessant, hvordan akademisk historie har bidraget til denne særlige vision om viktoriansk. Kærligheden mellem Sue og Maud er et godt eksempel. Selvom Waters undertiden er dovent typecast som forfatter af 'lesbiske romanser', er hendes arbejde afhængig af en usaglig troskab til bestemte historiske antagelser, der hører til, hvad Alan Sinfield kaldte 'queer moment' - ideen om, at i 1990'erne og siden, fixitet af seksuel identitet og dens historie var pludselig i tvivl. Denne drejning afspejlede Michel Foucault's centralitet i vores idé om moderne historie, især hans opfattelse af, at grænserne for seksuel identitet-den påståede soliditet af homo og hetero-var en relativt nylig opfindelse fra 1800-tallet. Før det var implikationen, at der skulle have været en periode 'før identitet', der paradoksalt nok var mindre begrænset end nutiden. Når man lægger Foucault's ret eller anden side til side, er det klart, at den victorianske æra spiller denne rolle - fortiden som et sted for paradoksal frihed - i Waters romaner. En anden mærkbar indflydelse er historiografien inspireret af Lillian Fadermans berømte lesbiske historie siden renæssancen, At passere kærligheden til mænd. (1) Hun og dem, der kom efter hende som Sharon Marcus, argumenterede for, at fordi victorianske kvinder ikke blev anset for at besidde en aktiv og uafhængig seksualitet, var ideen om lesbianisme på mange måder iboende usandsynlig (selvom denne idé er blevet kritisk undersøgt) af Martha Vicinus i sin 2004 -bog Intime venner (2)). Efter Foucaults beretning foreslog Faderman, at dette betød, at i den homosociale verden for den victorianske kvinde var det muligt for samme køn kærlighed at udvikle sig, uden at den nogensinde tiltrak patologien (eller faktisk noget mærke). Maud og Sues kærlighed til hinanden følger dette mønster med den vigtige forskel, at de ikke er kyske, som Fadermans beretning antydede, at de måske havde været. De er imidlertid ikke klar over noget så groft som en seksuel identitet, og i stedet udvikler deres kærlighed sig naturligt fra dagligdagens nærhed, såsom at dele seng. »Det er kun, at vi er sat så længe sammen, i sådan afsondrethed«, siger Maud og bedrager næppe sig selv: »Vi er forpligtede til at være intime« (s. 252). Denne frihed indebærer en form for selvskabelse, for hvis der ikke er noget mønster at følge, skal den være opfundet. Også dette er en af ​​troperne i queerhistorie og teori, hvis princip er at undergrave forestillinger om identitet. Faktisk er den ubestemte karakter af Sue og Mauds tilknytning, det faktum at der ikke er noget navn for det, registreret i romanen ved den insisterende brug af ordet 'queer' i alle dets afskygninger for at beskrive uhyggelige og ukendte stater - folk bevæger sig queerly ', stil' queer -spørgsmål ', har queer -følelser, mens queer -ting sker.

Disse underlige antagelser truer med at gøre to ting: For det første kan de anakronistisk projektere en vane med selvopfindelse fra det 20. århundrede tilbage til fortiden og gøre dem, der synes at gøre det, til genstand for vores historier. For det andet kan det give os mulighed for at forestille os karakterer som Sue og Maud som på en eller anden måde uden for historie og diskurs, der i stedet beboer en verden af ​​næsten ren selvskabelse. Sues oprindeligt selvsikre fortælling og kloge måde med låse og tegnebøger samt hendes foragt for Mauds virkelige tjenere, der sidder fast i en verden af ​​tjenelighed og hierarki, mens hun lever et liv 'uden herrer' (s. 38) synes i første omgang at være bare sådan en historie. Imidlertid forandrer romanens inversioner disse trøstende muligheder og potentielle overskridelser smart - Sue og Maud har ikke kommandoen over deres egne historier. De er trods alt underlagt historie - selvom de ved udgangen af ​​bogen ser ud til at flygte fra den igen.

Mens romanens tvillinghovedpersoner er opfindelser på mere end én måde, er Mauds onkel bevidst, hvis det er meget løst, baseret på en ægte person - bibliograf for den erotiske, Henry Spencer Ashbee, også kendt som Pisanus Fraxi, hvis liv er kroniseret i Ian Gibsons biografi. Kontrasten mellem Mauds onkel - en figur lige ud af det gotiske - og den obsessive katalogur Ashbee fortæller os meget om, hvad vi vil have fra victorianske historier. Ashbee var søn af lederen af ​​en krudtfabrik i Hounslow, der indgik et godt ægteskab med datteren til en velhavende købmand og sluttede sig til familiefirmaet. Hans omfattende forretningsrejser i Europa og Amerika tillod ham at forfølge sit bibliomanianske kald: at indsamle bøger, herunder mængder af erotik og pornografi. Dette arbejde resulterede i produktion af to massive bibliografier - the Indeks Librorum Prohibitorum (1877), en registrering af erotik og det mere konventionelle Centuria Librorum Absconditorum (1879) arbejdede førstnævnte op fra en enorm samling af sjældne og erotiske tekster, der hovedsageligt blev bragt på hans forretningsrejser. Gibson spekulerer også i, at Ashbees talent for det udtømmende gør ham til en sandsynlig kandidat til forfatterskabet til den anonyme 11-bindede pornografiske bore-athon Mit hemmelige liv (c.1888–95).

Gibson præsenterer Ashbee som det klassiske eksempel på et victoriansk dobbeltliv. Han bevarede et respektabelt hjem i Bloomsbury, mens han samtidig tog et kontor et par kilometer væk i Gray's Inn for at gemme sine bøger og arbejde med sin bibliografi om det erotiske. Han kan også have haft en uægte datter, der var en vigtig modtager af hans testamente. Han socialiserede med andre bibliofiler og boghandlere, herunder de store eksperter inden for venery -litteratur, Richard Monckton Milnes og Richard Burton, som begge var medlemmer af Cannibal Club, et uformelt samfund, der var dedikeret til at indtage og kurere det pornografiske. For Gibson er Ashbees liv umiddelbart et bevis på, at han skjulte en slags hemmelig perversion, hvad enten det er 'erotomani', en kærlighed til flagellering eller overdreven onani. Gibson forsøger derfor hårdt at præsentere Ashbees rejser som erotiske quests og noterer sig hans beundring af spanske dansende piger eller indiske damer samt at se sin vane med at markere kryds i sin dagbog som en mulig hemmelig rekord af onani. I denne henseende forsøger Gibson hårdt at finde Ashbee som en af ​​Steven Marcus ' Andre viktorianere (3), en bog, som han bruger som sin vigtigste guide til territoriet. Marcus argumenterede berømt for, at den pornografiske var symptomatisk for et samfund, der i stigende grad tænkte på sex som et særskilt og særskilt vidensområde, og at pornografien derfor var nyttig som et spejlbillede af officielle moralske holdninger.

Forfærdelig for Gibson og os indeholder Ashbees dagbøger intet om hans personlige motiver. I stedet fremstår han som ondskabsfuld, irriterende og besat. På sine rejser bliver han svindlet af kedelige amerikanere, hader arabere, beklager franskmændenes uhøflighed (karakteristisk undladt, mens han var i Rouen, at sige noget om Madame Bovary), og er selve billedet af en anti-katolsk Tory. Tilbage derhjemme fremmedgør de borgerlige paterfamilias sin følsomme søn, kunsthåndværkerens pioner og homoseksuelle Charles, ikke mindst ved kraftigt at opgradere ham for at bære halmbåd og flannels til kontoret. For alle Gibsons bestræbelser på at demonstrere, at Ashbee skjulte en fascinerende hemmelighed eller afslørende tvang, opstår han ofte som ukultiveret og snævert middelklasse, hans fascination af erotik drevet af lidt mere end en samlers mani - behovet for at liste og få alle eksempel på, hvad han ville. Denne egenskab demonstreres af Ashbees senere arbejde - et lige så besat og besværligt forsøg på at eje hver eneste illustration til Don Quijote. Det er dette forsøg på at katalogisere alt det, der alene gør Ashbee til en plausibel forfatter til det uendelige Mit hemmelige liv.

Det, der gør Ashbee interessant, er ikke, om han var den hemmelige forfatter til et pornografisk mesterværk, men ganske enkelt hans temmelig hverdagslige ønske om at kompilere og indsamle - det er det, der gør ham til en typisk moderne landmåler af det seksuelle. For en besat som Ashbee var pornografi det ideelle formsprog. Det er moderne og industrialiseret, kedeligt og gentaget, et spørgsmål om opregning, notering og afkrydsning af alle de nødvendige handlinger, kropsdele, positioner og perversioner. Selv indrømmede han, at hans virksomhed havde en tendens til at være på denne måde, og at meget af det, han læste, var 'kedeligt og uforskammet'. I den henseende er Ashbee en overgangsfigur fra en ældre libertinsk kultur med erotisk uddannelse - en slags litteratur ars erotik hvor små grupper af elitemænd samledes for at fejre deres priapisme og undersøge kvindekroppen - til en mere moderne af videnskabelig ambition og klassificering. Det er derfor ikke tilfældigt, at hans arbejde blev grundlaget for senere sexologi og historie, og at han blev konsulteret af de tidlige sexologer som Iwan Bloch, da han delte deres mål om encyklopædisk kompilering. Ashbees liv er også et værdifuldt korrektiv til det gotiske billedsprog af Fingersmed. I modsætning til hr. Lilly og separate kontorer i Gray's Inn på trods af, lukkede Ashbee sig ikke væk i en gotisk bunke, men levede i verden, og der er ingen måde, han kunne have samlet en sådan mængde erotik, mens han var lukket på den måde og uden hans omfattende europæiske links (dog i romanen har Lilly nogle tvivlsomme borgere på Holywell Street til at hjælpe ham med det). Som Lynda Nead og andre har forsøgt at vise, var problemet med pornografi i midten af ​​victoriansk Storbritannien ikke, at det var gemt væk, men at det var alt for offentligt, og takket være udvidelsen af ​​billige tryk var det alt for tilgængeligt.

På den måde kunne man på spade i hånden påpege, at mange af tropperne, der blev givet nyt liv af den neo-victorianske roman og dens tv-versioner, faktisk ser lidt slidte ud. Jeg indrømmer, at jeg sagde, at jeg ville forsøge at undgå denne form for sammenligning, men det skal gøres, hvis bare for at give et perspektiv på fiktionens magt til at diktere visionen om viktorianisme. For instance, the idea that sane women were routinely incarcerated in asylums for harmless moral infractions owes more to the sensation novel than the historical record, and derives its popularity from a few scare stories associated with the women’s movement that were later employed in books like Elaine Showalter’s The Female Malady.(4) One of the most notorious of these cases was that of Edith Lanchester, who was confined by her family in 1895 for taking up with a railwayman, and therefore seems to fit the Victorian pattern, but who was in fact released four days later as the result of public outrage. While not disputing that it happened in isolated cases, historians like Andrew Scull have questioned whether women (sane or otherwise) suffered from the ‘great confinement’ that Showalter outlines any more than men did. Similarly, although women were thought prone to hysteria that might be linked to their reproductive system, and were threatened with hair-raising surgical treatments, these were rarely if ever carried out, and, in any case, horrific medical procedures and ideas were hardly confined to the treatment of women. It is therefore surprising that tropes like the looming mad-house and the sinister mad-doctor have died so hard.

The continuing passion for the neo-Victorian, and for its familiar stories and characters, represents our unending compulsion to find the secret heart of Victorianism. Their surreptitious ways and inexplicit desires encourage the idea that our crinolined forebears are hiding something vital that will in the end be known, that in spite of their evasions, we can ‘really know’ what they are about. Just like the hidden library at the heart of the old, dark house where Mr Lilly transcribes his bibliography, or the revelations of Mrs Sucksby, we imagine that this secret is there, and that when we find it we will know all. But as Gibson shows, Ashbee, like many other Victorians, is not really hiding anything in the depths of his psyche – his only passion is the will to know, or to list. In spite of that there is still a steady demand for sensation, and for the imagined certainty that is ours alone.


‘The Secret Life of the Savoy’ Review: A Victorian Confection

The Savoy Hotel in 1905.

In 1889 the impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte opened a hotel the likes of which had never been seen. The Savoy was the ultimate in elegance and style, the antithesis of Victorian stuffiness. D’Oyly Carte, the backer of Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic operas, built it in London with profits from “The Pirates of Penzance” and “The Mikado.” There were 400 guest rooms, a cocktail bar, private baths with hot and cold running water, electric light, and two grand elevators he called “ascending rooms.” There was even outdoor dining on a terrace by the Thames (Monet and Whistler painted the view across the river from their rooms).

In her lively “Secret Life of the Savoy,” Olivia Williams, the author of “Gin Glorious Gin” (2014), has unearthed a wealth of fascinating details about three generations of the eccentric, secretive D’Oyly Carte family, owners the hotel for nearly a century. Richard, the patriarch, knew how to create a sense of belonging and excitement for his guests, a cosmopolitan group that included aristocrats, royalty, bankers, and stars of the theater and opera. Even unchaperoned women were admitted (except those of “doubtful reputation and uncertain revenue”), and formal evening dress was de rigueur.

Ms. Williams writes that Richard understood what newly rich middle-class Victorians wanted because he was one himself. His glamorous last name belied a humble background. He began life in poverty, living with his parents in the decrepit Soho townhouse where Thomas De Quincey wrote “Confessions of an English Opium-Eater.” But soon the family’s fortunes blossomed with the success of his father’s musical-instrument business. Richard became a talent agent and entrepreneur, going into partnership with dramatist William Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan, with whom he produced 13 operas.

In 1881 Richard made headlines when he opened the Savoy Theatre, the first building lighted entirely by electricity. The audience cheered when the lights went on. One newspaper reporter, however, complained that they gave a “ghastly look” to those “plastered dames” attempting to conceal the “ravages of time.” The opera was “Patience,” a satire on the aesthetic movement whose main character was based on one of Richard’s clients, Oscar Wilde.

To promote the touring company of “Patience,” Richard sent Wilde on a lecture tour of America. Ms. Williams writes that the author delighted his audiences. When he described the pictures of Botticelli, Wilde recalled, “the name seemed to them like a new drink.” Upon his return he moved into the Savoy with his lover Lord Alfred Douglas, and before long the hotel was faced with its first major scandal. In 1895, Wilde was convicted of “gross indecency” for bringing “rent boys” to his room to drink champagne and dine on turtle soup.


Britain at the Turn of the 20th Century Was Dealing With a Lot, Badly

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THE AGE OF DECADENCE
A History of Britain, 1880 to 1914
By Simon Heffer

“What fools we were,” King George V told his prime minister, Ramsay MacDonald, in 1930, looking back to the era before World War I. In the context of the wartime catastrophe his generation had delivered, the king may have had a point. That was the time of Rudyard Kipling’s “long recessional” and A. E. Housman’s “land of lost content.” Arthur Balfour, prime minister from 1902 to 1905, lamented “some process of social degeneration” that “may conveniently be distinguished by the name of ‘decadence.’” Joseph Chamberlain, the most charismatic politician of the late-Victorian age, put it more pithily. “The Weary Titan,” he said in 1902, “staggers under the too vast orb of its fate.”

For many Americans today, perhaps fearing late-stage decadence and their own Weary Titan, this story may strike close to home. For in Simon Heffer’s telling, the history of Britain from 1880 to 1914 is one in which “a nation so recently not just great, but the greatest power the world had ever known, sustained in its greatness by a rule of law and parliamentary democracy, had begun its decay.”

“The Age of Decadence” is a successor volume to the same author’s well-regarded “High Minds: The Victorians and the Birth of Modern Britain” (2013), which charted Britain’s rise to “greatness” in the earlier part of the 19th century. Heffer picks up here with Gladstone taking over the premiership from his great rival, Disraeli, in 1880, then guides us through the high-Victorian era into the 20th century with the accession of King Edward VII in 1901. He ends in 1914 with Britain facing an unhappy choice between a European war with Germany and a civil war in Ireland. He wisely does not include the origins of the world war substantively in this volume (his book on this topic has just been published in Britain). In such a way he avoids the teleological danger of making everything in Britain about the war as the country hurtles toward some kind of inevitable abyss. In fact, until the last moment, even after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Ireland seemed the more important priority for Britain.

There are many pleasures to be had in this fine book, not the least of which is the vivacity of Heffer’s prose. A columnist for The Sunday Telegraph as well as a historian, he writes elegantly but punchily, combining seriousness with welcome flashes of waspishness that stop things from getting stuffy. Pointing, for example, to the socially entitled Virginia Woolf’s sneering at a fellow novelist, the shopkeeper’s son Arnold Bennett, Heffer notes that her put-downs “had him written off for much of the 20th century by generations of university lecturers and critics, who confused snobbery with literary criticism.” That, as they say, is a twofer.

Heffer has little interest in debates among historians on the period, but unlike many general surveys of this kind, he does not rely just on secondary literature and makes excellent use of wide-ranging archival research. That approach gives the book a fresh perspective, although not necessarily a new one. What is striking about “The Age of Decadence” is that it brings us full circle to the view the late Victorians and Edwardians so often had of themselves and it echoes George Dangerfield’s seminal 1935 book “The Strange Death of Liberal England,” which evocatively depicted how “by the end of 1913 Liberal England was reduced to ashes.” In Heffer’s telling it is perhaps less ashes to ashes than an overripe piece of fruit rotting and putrefying in front of our eyes.

”The Age of Decadence” is a masterpiece of pacing. After an amiable perambulation with the last of the Victorians, we build to a frantic cliff-top scramble as the Edwardians lose their grip on events and themselves. The book culminates in three powerful chapters on the suffragists, industrial unrest and the threat of civil war in Ireland. By the final pages, Heffer has skillfully conjured a country in chaos and heading over the edge. The prime minister, Herbert Henry Asquith, had “rarely felt more hopeless” and by July 1914 believed the United Kingdom had reached “an impasse, with unspeakable consequences.” The Lord Mayor of Liverpool told the Earl of Derby he feared “a revolution is in progress.” In the circumstances, a war with Germany looked to many like the easy option.

Heffer has no hesitation in pointing the finger of blame at the complacent, “swaggering” late-Victorian and Edwardian elites who ran the show in these four decades. From 1880 “until the apocalypse came in 1914,” he writes reprovingly, “there was among the upper and upper-middle classes a resting on laurels a decision, literal and metaphorical, to live off dividends rather than work that little bit harder and improve more.” The end result: “Britain was diminished” and “British power was in decline.”

Heffer warns us against “the pornography of nostalgia,” but still, there are other ways to see the Edwardians. Perhaps this period was not one of Thomas Hardy’s times “when all went well,” but the Edwardians certainly meet Arnold Bennett’s criterion of being “identified with the great cause of cheering us all up.” Everything was brighter, faster, more fashionable. With the growth of cinemas, gramophones, telephones and the first 100-miles-per-hour trains for trips to the seaside, Edwardians for the most part had more fun than those stern Victorians. Thanks to advances in medicine and nutrition, people in Britain lived longer (unless they found themselves in the wartime trenches). And everyday life also improved. If this was an era of revolt, it was also one of radical reform, with a long reach into all areas of society from cradle to grave. The daily existence of the working classes on whose backs much of the wealth of the previous century had been built was enhanced immeasurably by a battery of social, industrial and educational legislation. Liberal reform culminated in the comprehensive 1911 National Insurance Act — one of the most important pieces of legislation of the 20th century and one that remains a foundation of the British welfare state and National Health Service.

Regarding decline as a world power, everything is relative. Twentieth-century Britain overcame rival empires, fought and won two cataclysmic wars and twice reconstructed the world order in its own image. The British retreated from empire once its corrupting decadence became manifest. Historians of other empires might ask whether the Edwardians were any more degenerate than the French of the Third Republic, or imperial Germans, Russians, Ottomans, Iranians and Chinese. Certainly Britain was eclipsed by the United States but arguably there was not much the Edwardians could have done about the rise of a vast, resource-rich continental power that unlike its other rivals was reasonably well governed. Today Britain remains one of the half-dozen richest countries in the world with a cultural and political impact that far exceeds its size. Much of its good fortune is rooted in the legacy of those Edwardians who, as H. G. Wells put it, saw “The Shape of Things to Come.”

So perhaps in the end the dutiful King George V only had it half right. For while they were often foolish, the Edwardians were no fools.


A Corporeal History of the 19th Century

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VICTORIANS UNDONE
Tales of the Flesh in the Age of Decorum
By Kathryn Hughes
Illustreret. 414 pp. Johns Hopkins University Press. $29.95.

The average biographer peers into a Great Man’s mind. Kathryn Hughes’s “Victorians Undone: Tales of the Flesh in the Age of Decorum,” in contrast, narrates the lives of five body parts: the stomach of one of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting, “suspected of expecting” Charles Darwin’s unfashionable beard, which turns out to provide a key to his theory of sexual selection George Eliot’s right hand, larger than her left thanks to a youth spent milking cows the “bee-stung” lips of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s mistress and the dismembered corpse of a working-class girl onto whose severed foot a late-19th-century shoemaker stumbled in a Hampshire hop garden.

While microhistorians have long zoomed in on individual case studies, Hughes pinpoints her subjects even more narrowly. Her method is laparoscopic, sectioning off bits of bodies as ruthlessly as did the Hampshire murderer. Her ultimate question, though, is a broad one: How did the Victorians understand the interplay between mind and body?

Consider Darwin’s beard — or, more precisely, beards, since Darwin’s progress through decades and hemispheres was marked by growing, grooming and shaving off a series of different styles. Mustachioed hipsters may be happy to learn that facial hair spent the first half of the 19th century as the marker of rabble-rousers, artists and derelicts. It was only when Crimean War veterans set the fashion that experts began recommending beards to ward off frostbite, sunburn and air pollution, not to mention mumps and toothache. A beard could also hide a man’s unmanly expressions of emotion.

Darwin himself supplemented his erstwhile comb-over late in life, after realizing that a morning shave exacerbated his eczema. And beardedness continues to flatter him in the 21st century. In 2000, Darwin replaced Dickens on 10-pound notes — one reason, Hughes reveals, was that the naturalist’s extravagant whorls of hair are harder to forge than the “door knocker” the weak-chinned Dickens grew after the rise of photography made it impossible for him to avoid being depicted in profile. (Until recently, when Darwin was himself replaced by Jane Austen, if you’d taken a tenner out of your wallet you’d have seen the hirsute naturalist looking uncannily like an ape.) Struggling to explain where beards fit into his theory of sexual selection, Darwin posited that because facial hair is lighter than the hair on men’s heads, “our male apelike progenitors acquired their beards as an ornament to charm or excite the opposite sex” — the equivalent of a peacock’s tail.

From Civil War re-enactments to paleo diets, today’s subcultures often try to recreate the bodies of bygone eras but rather than celebrating Victorian heads and hands and waistlines, Hughes rubs our noses in their strangeness. She interweaves the Victorians’ writings about body image with their nonverbal habits — whether they groomed themselves or paid a barber for a shave, what muscles they used to lift a pail or squeeze an udder.

Don’t let the title fool you: This is not a book about sex. Rarely lustful or repressed, these Victorians were more often embarrassed, uncomfortable, self-conscious or vain. Hughes’s blow-by-blow accounts of bowel movements, menstruation, menopause, pores and salivary glands shouldn’t be mistaken for celebrity gossip or scatological humor — though it takes guts, so to speak, to depict courtiers fat-shaming one another and guesstimating who had missed a period. Instead, her focus on the body topples great figures from their pedestals. We hear less about the words that emerged from Victoria’s mouth than about her failure to zip her lips while chewing nothing about the visionary images sparked by Coleridge’s opium addiction, but plenty about his resulting constipation. Made rather than given, these bodies tell an engrossing story about the culture that fashioned them.


History in Focus

Although by far the oldest and most numerous ethnic minority in Britain, the Irish have received relatively little attention within British social history or indeed the sociology of migration, race and ethnicity. The literary disciplines have for too long been the focus point of Irish Studies and it seems the historical importance of this large, mobile, ethnic and (on the whole) religiously distinct group has been somewhat neglected. At this time, the field is developing with new researchers becoming interested in this moderately "invisible" group. The Irish in Victorian Britain has been addressed in two previous volumes, and now this new book of essays, by Roger Swift and Sheridan Gilley. Their first collection of essays entitled The Irish in Victorian City (1985) presented an eclectic collection of what was then a relatively new subject area having only been covered substantially in the post-war period by one monograph from J. A. Jackson (who in many ways set the template for this field of study) and two local studies from London and Leeds. That book provided a classic overview of the subject by M. A.G. Tuathaigh before moving into what became familiar themes within the subject. Inherent within the historiography was the view that the Irish community in Britain as subaltern subjects, problematised, criminalised, suffering from various forms of discrimination and delineated as mainly poor Catholic males. That book discussed issues of integration and assimilation, political engagement with working class politics and the media, anti-Irish violence and the use of the "Orange Card" for electoral advantage by the Conservative and Unionist Party in local elections - a historical tendency that is as relevant today within as it was in the 1850s and 60s especially if we consider the refugee status of those Irish fleeing the privations of the Great Famine. Another important strand of that first volume was the significance of the Catholic Church to the migrant Irish community a significant theme as the Church was itself undergoing a period of post-Reformation renewal that was supported and enriched by the expansion of its Irish born congregations. That first volume also included a number of localised studies on Bristol, York, Edinburgh and a comparative exposition of communal violence in Glasgow and Liverpool. The second Swift and Gilley volume entitled The Irish in Britain, 1815-1939 (1989) expanded the field of study and revised a number of the post-Jackson positions, while developing further the themes of settlement, segregation, integration, politics and political literary texts, as well as Irish migrants influences upon the labour-market and crime. The volume included one particular provincial essay on the town of Stafford.

Now the third Swift and Gilley volume expands this theme of local specificity in the migrant Irish experience, situating the emigrants within their regional economic, political and social contexts. Thus the volume underlines the heterogeneity of the Irish migrant experience and begins to pull away from the post-Jackson historical focus into areas and fields that are under researched. All three volumes include useful bibliographies.

Overall the new volume is a useful exposition of new research in the area that has been bolstered by recent monographs by scholars such as Paul Leary, Frank Neal and Donald MacRaild. A useful introduction by the editors is followed by Paul O'Leary's contribution an essay focused upon the mainly hostile reaction that Irish Great Famine migrants received in Wales. He emphasises the importance a strong sense of regional identity and the specific economic and political context in determining this reaction. O'Leary suggests that the regional study might be more useful that the historiographical micro-study of towns and cities that have dominated the field so far. An example of this new emphasis on the smaller Irish community and the importance of local context is presented by Louise Miskell's interesting account of the Irish in Cambourne Cornwall between 1861 and 1882. Her research challenges some of the historiographical assumptions stemming from the analysis of larger communities that concentrate on the poor, low-skilled, urban dwelling Irish. Miskell argues that the anti-Irish riot of 1882 was determined by the local context in peripheral Cornish society rather than a generic anti-Irishness. She also points briefly to the effect of local contexts in shaping residential patterns and challenges the idea of the 'Irish area' as a construction based as much upon local memory as ethnic clustering. She also points out the fact that the Irish were spread throughout the local economy and not just concentrated in the low-skill labouring sector. As such she presents important evidence of the heterogeneity of Irish experience in nineteenth century Britain as well as the salience of memory and the constructive discursive nature of ethno-geography in It's demotic and official resonances.

No regional study of the Irish in Britain would be complete without surveying London. Apart from one monograph published in the late 1970s by Lynn Hollen Lees, there has been little published work, so Jacqueline Turton's examination of the poor Irish in London utilising the work of Henry Mayhew's investigations for the Morning Chronicle is long over due. The essay is a useful exposition of Mayhew's early form of methodologically problematic sociological oral history. The piece presents information on routes taken to London from Ireland , settlement, work and social conditions, crime, associational cultures and intolerance. There is much of interest within the essay, although a little weak on the role of prejudice and anti-Irishness, there are some interesting passages and conclusions.

Britain's second city has also been cruelly neglected in published studies. Carl Chinn's somewhat eclectic but worthy essay covers the Irish in early Victorian Birmingham. Empirically focused, his detailed analysis of the 1851 census covers the usual preoccupations of the economic and social historiography general demography and residence patterns, economic engagement of the migrant, the importance of kinship networks etc.. Although Chinn uses the idea of the "Irish community" somewhat loosely, this essay is the first to focus on the important industrial centre of Birmingham and as such is a welcome addition to the field that has so far been somewhat eclipsed by work on the North of Britain. Frank Neal's contributes another even more empirically detailed "work in progress" on Irish settlement in the North East and North West of England. Using his personal database of over 35000 records of the Irish born and their children, he also focuses on the 1851 census to extract a wealth of detail of the lives of Irish migrants in this area. Again the local economic context is fore-grounded in its influence upon settlement and work patterns. The wealth of information, statistics and tables will be of great use to historians and as his work progresses will undoubtedly become a valuable historical resource. Another detailed census study on Stafford is provided by John Herson who has been conducting research into the Irish population of this small town for some time, revealing another aspect of the settled Irish communities of the nineteenth century. Herson has extracted a large amount of detailed information much based upon following individual families. The chapter is especially useful for its inclusion of Protestant Irish. He is able for instance to show that Protestant Irish migrants were more skilled and therefore more affluent than their Catholic countrymen being overwhelmingly represented in skilled manual or managerial and professional employment. Along with Chinn, the reintroduction of the family network as important is another welcome divergence from the traditional historiography and a great deal of work awaits similar studies elsewhere.

Another strand within all three books is the important role played by the Catholic Church in relation to the majority of Irish migrants. Marie McClelland's contribution examines the role of the Church in providing education for Irish migrants in Hull and in particular the importance of Catholic Nuns. Her description of the history of Catholic education in the town maps the problems and successes of the Catholic institutions in establishing a reliable education for Catholic's in the face of some hostility from the local educational institutions and others. The focus of a secular role within the Church's functions was obviously important in the establishment and integration of the Irish Catholic community. Frank Boyce - somewhat at odds with the book's title - takes a look at the Irish Catholic community within the Liverpool docklands from the 19th century, concentrating to some extent on its disappearance from the 1950s to the present day. Utilising archival and oral sources he describes the community now lost and the importance the parish was in cementing group identity. This is a useful and sensitive narrative of the community and one senses almost a note of regret at its passing or rather transformation from a religious into a secular "community centre" focused society.

The political strand of the historiography is covered in three essays, one by John Belchem - ostensibly about the Liverpool Irish middle classes but more focused on the political engagement of the group. Belchem has done much work on the associational culture of the Irish ethnic enclave in Liverpool and declares a mission to rescue the community from "historical caricature and stigma". This essay builds upon his previous work, essentially engaging with the role of the middle class Irish in building an Irish nationalism as well as recording some of the ethnic entrepreneurs of the city. Belchem is quite correct to point out the overemphasis on poor Catholic migrants within the historiography, there was a notable middle-class Irish element in nineteenth century Britain that is only just coming to light as researchers begin to ask relevant questions. The neglect of the Irish middle classes is connected to the prejudices surrounding the Irish in Britain. Arguably within the British national discourse, the memory of the Irish is still that of an unskilled poor labourer with a drink problem and predisposed to violence. These prejudices have subliminally affected research agendas in the past. A second political essay is provided by John Hutchinson and Alan O'Day who examine the political tensions between the generations of Irish nationalists and "new" upwardly mobile section of middle class migrant more willing to form a new identity for Irishness based upon sport, literature and language in London of the 1890s. Also, Gerard Moran provides an interesting examination of Irish nationalist politics in Lancashire by examining the Brotherhood of Saint Patrick, "the first organisation after the Famine to organise the Irish into a movement focusing on Irish problems, not confining itself exclusively to political issues". This is an important area as the organisational networks of the Irish Diaspora have again been under researched. All of these essays in their own way add to the empirical knowledge that is the raw material of historical research and understanding, operating within a conventional social and economic historiography.

However, Mary Hickman in an important essay within the book argues for an alternative historiography for the Irish in Britain. Her inherently structuralist thesis disputes the segregationist/assimillationist model that characterises much of the literature, pointing out that the discourse focuses on the group itself and its relative "successes" or "failures" in relation to the host state/society without problematising the role that the receiving society poses to the migrant. Her critique censures the "inherent empiricism" of most historiography that produces a systematic exceptionalism from the sources, professional knowledge of which becomes a "substitute for thought". Hickman calls for a new approach that systematises the various factors of "race" ethnicity, class, religion, politics etc. to provide a new analysis of how Irish experiences in Britain were configured in relation to these factors. She is very critical of the assimilation model arguing that it disengages migrants from the structural factors such as class and access to employment, undervalues the role of "race" and ethnicity in determining class position and ignores the role the Irish played in the construction of a cross-class racist British nationalism. The role of the state is also transparent in much of the historiography according to Hickman, the particular articulation of which structures the institutional and cultural context of the receiving society. For Hickman, the Irish in Britain arrived at a crucial time of the British state's nation building project, a project that was concerned with constructing an idea of an homogenised and centralised state and culture. Irish Catholic peasants became within this context the defining "Other" from which a cross class "national-racial unit" was constructed, That is to say Englishness/Britishness. This unit was defined by Protestantism and the inculcation of "respectability", or in other words bourgeois values, into the working classes. Thus the new nineteenth century institutions of police, education, mass media etc. were involved in a nation building project part of which was the construction of a new political subject and thereby the state reconstructed its self and its hegemony. The Irish were problematised within this project and for Hickman the focus of attention for historians should be upon this historical context rather than the relative success or otherwise of Irish migrants integration strategies which has been the legacy of the current historiography. Hickman's thesis presents new challenges to historians in this area and opens up a potentially rich seam of a more cross disciplinary approach utilising some of the concepts and methodologies of sociology, cultural studies and law among others.

The construction of British and Irish national identities were crucial at this point in history, as was the need to shore up what was to become the ascendant economic and political configuration of Britain and elsewhere. Liberal democracy has told many stories about itself within the nation building project of Britain and one has been the idea of assimilation as positive acculturation rather than a negative ethnic suicide. One story that is lacking is how the Irish helped to define who was and was not Irish, English, Scottish, Welsh, Cornish, Manx and British. Lynda Colley's work in this area significantly skirts the role of the Irish and at best is a neglect of the facts. The role of continental and colonial people's was important, but if we are to focus on the role of religion on British identity then the Irish need to be taken seriously as the internal and external "Other" to British nationalism. In light of long term anti-Catholicism, medium term political and anti-colonial agitation at home and abroad as well as medium to short term tensions created by mass migration of impoverished peasants in the Great Famine period, the role of the Irish as a political, religious, ethnic and class antithesis to the bourgeois, freeborn, colonial Protestant Englishman becomes clear.

In conclusion, this new collection opens up some new areas for research within the established historiography with some strands emigrating away from the subaltern slant and numbers game. The shift towards the regional and small scale studies as well as middle class and family networks are to be welcomed as a rich source for future empirical work. The political and religious strands are still under researched and the essays included are important as are the mapping of Irish communities as yet untouched by study or published work. In the light of all the empirical work available and to be done, the introduction of a more theoretical element to the field is a welcome challenge. This said however, the book on the whole sticks closely to received wisdom and scarcely tries to challenge or push historiographical boundaries too far. When compared to other works such as Patrick O'Sullivan's diasporically and cross disciplinarian collections The Irish in the New Communities (6 volumes 1992) or Donald MacRaild's Culture, Conflict and Migration: The Irish in Victorian Cumbria (1998) and his excellent Irish Immigrants in Modern Britain, 1750-1922 (1999), this new volume feels a little too content with the received wisdoms of the field. This can suggest - incorrectly - that the past two decades of study on Irish migration and settlement in Britain has moved relatively little.

One stimulating area of research has been opened up by Hickman, however. As the oldest, most prolific and culturally integrated of migrants to the British isles in the modern period, the Irish communities and the reactions they provoked and coaxed from their resident neighbours and vice versa has much to tell us about issues of identity formation, ethnic and religious prejudice as well as nation building, the invention of traditions of ethnic memory and imagined communities at an important time in Britain's history. Many of the patterns of prejudice that the Irish experienced in nineteenth century Britain are remarkably consistent with modern expressions of racism and intolerance towards immigrants. Arguably, the notions of Irish and British are meaningless with out each other. Thus the study of this group in this period should be at the centre rather than the periphery of British history.


Victorian Period: Early & Late

The Period is often divided into two parts: the early Victorian Period (ending around 1870) and the late Victorian Period.

Writers associated with the early period are: Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892), Robert Browning (1812–1889), Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861), Emily Bronte (1818–1848), Matthew Arnold (1822–1888), Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882), Christina Rossetti (1830–1894), George Eliot (1819–1880), Anthony Trollope (1815–1882) and Charles Dickens (1812–1870).

Writers associated with the late Victorian Period include George Meredith (1828–1909), Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–1889), Oscar Wilde (1856–1900), Thomas Hardy (1840–1928), Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936), A.E. Housman (1859–1936), and Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894).

While Tennyson and Browning represented pillars in Victorian poetry, Dickens and Eliot contributed to the development of the English novel. Perhaps the most quintessentially Victorian poetic works of the period are: Tennyson's "In Memorium" (1850), which mourns the loss of his friend. Henry James describes Eliot's "Middlemarch" (1872) as "organized, molded, balanced composition, gratifying the reader with the sense of design and construction."

It was a time of change, a time of great upheaval, but also a time of GREAT literature!