Madness, hilarity, doubt and devotion are just some of the many aspects of life explored in the huge wealth of Victorian fiction. This course makes the great creative energy present in nineteenth-century writers accessible through reading a mixture of popular and less well-known works by the century's greatest authors.
Victorian fiction has an astonishing breadth of styles, themes and subject matter. Authors with diverse aims and outlooks produced novels and stories to instruct, entertain, horrify and amuse a reading public that expanded throughout the nineteenth century, demanding work that was sometimes gripping and always thought-provoking. This course will focus on works by four of the era's major figures - Anthony Trollope, George Eliot, Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy - identifying how the century's main preoccupations find substance in the work of its greatest writers. The works chosen to illustrate these topics. Barchester Towers, Scenes of Clerical Life, Great Expectations and Far from the Madding Crowd will be studied alongside extracts from other fictional and non-fictional prose, giving the fullest possible sketch of how far these authors both mirror and transform the Victorian world.
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