AD's English Literature : A TO Z Literary Principles from History of English Literature: Note 15

A TO Z Literary Principles from History of English Literature: Note 15

A Set of 26 Objective Questions & Answers ( Victorian Novels)

a. Charles Dickens is easily the first of the Victorian novelists both in point of time and quantity. He made use of the novel as an instrument of social reforms; his novels are novels with a purpose.

c. David Copperfield is Charles Dickens’ masterpiece, - a fiction tinged with some autobiographical elements. 

d. Thackeray is the next novelist with whom Dickens is often contrasted. His scope is vast; the church, the army, the civil service, the fashionable public school, Fleet Street, in short, the whole world of London – against these entire he hurls his satirical arrow.

e. Thackeray’s Vanity Fair is supreme in its minute analysis of an entire community – the parasitic gentry of the Victorian era. If character value be the test of a great novel, Vanity Fair is great. 

f. In Thackeray’s novels he is no conscious moralist; he envisages no moral change in social, political or religious institutions. Apart from Vanity Fair, his other remarkable novels include Henry Esmond, The Virginians, Pendennis and The New Comer.

g. Thackeray’s style is very near to the ideal for a novelist. It is effortless and is therefore unobtrusive. It is also flexible to an extraordinary degree. 

h.In the development of Victorian novel, the works of the women novelists- particularly George Eliot, Charlotte and Emily Bronte – are vastly important and deserve special note. 

i. George Eliot heralds a new force in English fiction. She was the first novelist to lay stress whole upon character rather than incidents. Her great novels include Middlemarch, Adam Bede and Romola

j. The novels of Charlotte Bronte are pre-occupied with the theme of love. The tragedy of the unsolved woman was never felt more keenly than in her two great novels – Jane Eyre and Villette

K. The younger Bronte sister Emily Bronte seems to be an embodiment of the storm-swept moor, more of an elemental spirit than a creature of flesh and blood. Her Wuthering Heights is unique in English literature.

l. Wuthering Heights : Emily Bronte has an excellent gift for description. The little of the novel, which derives itself from the name of a weather-beaten old house on a slope of the west riding moors, is significant enough.

m. The appeal of Meredith is limited to a narrow circle of readers. As a shrewd observer of life, he is unsurpassed. His pictures of contemporary life, particularly the high life, are not equaled by any Victorian novelist. In The Egoist his genius and art reach the climax. His characters reveal that a psychologist is at work in their creation. As a stylist, Meredith is self-conscious and almost eccentric.

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n. Antony Trollope presented a sharply observed picture of the upper layers of Victorian society in his two monumental series of chronicle novels, the Barchester series and the Palliser series.

o.Antony Trollope’s theme is man in society, the same as Thackeray’s. Like Thackeray’s again Trollope’s society is the one he knew intimately and closely. His command over plain English gave him a style liked very much by the readers of his day- limpid, flexible and melodious.

p. Thomas Hardy’s contribution to the English novel is unique. In every novel he is deeply, brooding over and giving keen thought to men and things. The reader has felling that Hardy is straining the course of events too much to make his stories conform to his somber view of life.

q. Thomas Hardy is cynical in his Wessex novels; hardly does he moralize. We may not agree with his tragic views but we cannot say that he distorts things. Like the novelists on the continent, Hardly gives us the true sequence of things as neither Dickens nor Thackeray nor Eliot does.

s. Hardy is, indeed, the first of the English novelists to choose English peasant types for the heroes and heroines in the series of his masterpieces. The scenes of his novel are laid in a primitive corner of England, where civilization has not yet made its appearance. For this region he has revived the ancient name of Wessex and he has recreated it partly as a reality and partly as a land of imagination.

t. Wessex is a country of sleepy old towns and secluded villages where traditional customs, manners and beliefs still prevailed. 

u. The early Victorian period was the evaluation of two types of fiction – the novel of social problem and the novel of social life. It would not, of course be right to threat these two types as water-tight compartments, exclusive of each other. Each constantly overflows into the other, for it would be absurd to keep problems out of the life, which originated them, and life of course is included of the problems which are a part of it. 

v. In 1837, with Pickwick Papers, Dickens began a long output of novels, which were to delight the British reading public for years.

w. Anthony Hope's Prisoner of Zenda is a modern novel of romantic type; Thackeray's
Vanity Fair is a fine piece of realism.

x. The novel of adventure, Stevenson’s Treasure Island; the novel of character, Thackeray's Vanity Fair; the novel of manners, or locality, Austen's Sense and Sensibility; the historical novel, Scott's Ivanhoe and Dickens's Tale of Two Cities; the novel with a purpose, Dickens's Oliver Twist; the humorous novel, Stockton's The Casting Away of Mrs. Leeks and Mrs. Aleshine; the autobiographical novel, Dickens's David Copperfield and Eliot's Mill on the Floss; the detective novel, or novel of mystery, Collins's The Moonstone and Sir Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.

y. The social novels dominated the literary secure between 1830 and 1855, and reached its peak point in the 40’s.

z. The social novels of 1840’s dealt with concrete problems of general significance from a humane standpoint. There after, much greater attention was paid to the social mind. This new interest is illustrated by the growth of scientific study of human psychology in the middle of the nineteenth century. New aspects of the human mind were fully exposed and brilliantly analyzed.

Ref:  Literary Timelines, History of English Literature- Albert

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