Novels behind Glass

Novels behind Glass : Commodity Culture and Victorian Narrative

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Drawing on work in critical theory, feminism and social history, this book traces the lines of tension shot through Victorian culture by the fear that the social world was being reduced to a display window behind which people, their actions and their convictions were exhibited for the economic appetites of others. Affecting the most basic elements of Victorian life - the vagaries of desire, the rationalisation of social life, the gendering of subjectivity, the power of nostalgia, the fear of mortality, the cyclical routines of the household - the ambivalence generated by commodity culture organizes the thematic concerns of these novels and the society they represent. Taking the commodity as their point of departure, chapters on Thackeray, Gaskell, Dickens, Eliot, Trollope, and the Great Exhibition of 1851 suggest that Victorian novels provide us with graphic and enduring images of the power of commodities to affect the varied activities and beliefs of individual and social experience.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 140 x 216 x 15mm | 330g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 5 Halftones, unspecified
  • 0521068347
  • 9780521068345
  • 1,581,017

Table of contents

Acknowledgements; 1. Introduction; 2. Longing for sleeve buttons; 3. Spaces of exchange: interpreting the Great Exhibition of 1851; 4. The fragments and small opportunities of Cranford; 5. Rearranging the furniture of Our Mutual Friend; 6. Owning up: possessive individualism in Trollope's Autobiography and The Eustace Diamonds; 7. Middlemarch and the solicitude of material culture; Afterword; Notes; Bibliography.
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Review quote

"Miller's examination of narrative strategies dealing with Victorian anxieties about commodities is well worth reading for anyone interested in these five authors and those interested in the treatment of the commodity in Victorian fictions generally." Victorian Review "The chapters devoted to individual novels can fruitfully be read independently of each other. Read in its entirely, however, Novels Behind Glass uncovers illuminating points of intersection and divergence among Our Mutual Friend and Cranford, The Eustace Diamonds, and Middlemarch. Published as part of Cambridge's Literature, Culture, Theory series, Novels Behind Glass is an original volume that is sure to emerge as one of the important recent studies of Victorian fiction." Patricia O'Hara, Dickens Quarterly "Reading Victorian literature as a ledger of captalism's psychic costs, Novels, Behind Glass helps us restore such fatalities to full view." Jeff Nunokawa, Victorian Studies
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