Publication Date: 2002
Written in an accessible and manageable style, the books in the Contexts series fill the gap in students' knowledge of the historical facts, literary associations and wider cultural climate of the main literary periods. As well as offering a background in relevant social history, these texts include selected extracts from original documents to give a full flavour of the period in question. Victorian Fiction offers the reader an insight into the cultural, political, and social contexts in which the major Victorian novels were written and read. Moving from the early works of Dickens in the 1830s, to the decadent works of Oscar Wilde and the novels of Thomas Hardy, the book gives an overview of the developments of fiction as a genre, and offers readers a way of understanding the relationship between the Victorian novel and its historical contexts.
Victorian Fiction encompasses a wide-range of authors including Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Wilkie Collins, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charlotte Bronte, Anthony Trollope, Robert Loius Stevenson, Oscar Wilde, and Thomas Hardy, and sets them against a background that includes democracy and suffrage reform, sexuality and women's rights, Empire, science and industry, religion, and methods of publication of the novel. By doing this, the book is able to offer students an introduction to the history of the Victorian period, in form which is most relevant to their reading of the novel.
It complements readings of fiction with extracts from seminal non-fiction prose texts of the time, to give a flavour of a variety of Victorian discourses, and to enable students to see how arguments were conducted at the time. Victorian Fiction also included a time-line of key events, and a bibliography to aid further study.