Feeling for the Poor: Bourgeois Compassion, Social Action and the Victorian Novel (Hardback)
  • Feeling for the Poor: Bourgeois Compassion, Social Action and the Victorian Novel (Hardback)
zoom

Feeling for the Poor: Bourgeois Compassion, Social Action and the Victorian Novel (Hardback)

(author)
£48.50
Hardback 224 Pages / Published: 29/10/2010
  • We can order this

Usually dispatched within 2 weeks

  • This item has been added to your basket

What if the political work of Victorian social-problem novels was precisely to make the reader feel as if reading them--in and of itself--mattered? Surveying novels by Charles Dickens, Frances Trollope, Benjamin Disraeli, Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, and Henry James, Carolyn Betensky tracks the promotion of bourgeois feeling as a response to the suffering of the poor and working classes. Victorian social-problem novels, she argues, volunteered the experience of their own reading as a viable response to conflicts that seemed daunting or irreconcilable. Encoded at multiple levels within the novels themselves, reading became something to do about the pain of others.

Beyond representations of conscious or unconscious wishes to control, conquer, or discipline the industrial poor, social-problem novels offered their middle-class readers the opportunity to experience themselves in the position of both benefactor and beneficiary. Betensky argues that these narratives were not only about middle-class fear of or sympathy for the working classes. They gave voice, just as importantly, to a middle-class desire for and even envy of the experience of the dominated classes. In their representations of poor and working-class characters, social-problem novels offered middle-class subjects an expanded range of emotional experience that included a claim to sympathy on their own behalf.

Publisher: University of Virginia Press
ISBN: 9780813930619
Number of pages: 224
Weight: 499 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 23 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

Carolyn Betensky brings an original point of view and an engaging writer's voice to bear on the well-developed subject of the Victorian social-problem novel. In her analysis, novels stage competitions for feeling and suffering between representatives of powerful and powerless classes, acting finally as self-comforting fictions for the bourgeois reader and writer. Betensky's skills and talents as a critic are evident. The writing style is quite delightful--fresh, frank, and clear, with wonderful moments of ironic wit.

--Rosemarie Bodenheimer, Boston College, author of Knowing Dickens

You may also be interested in...

Careless People
Added to basket
Flatland
Added to basket
£7.99
Paperback
Boyhood
Added to basket
£8.99
Paperback
Darkness Visible
Added to basket
£8.99
Paperback
How to Live
Added to basket
£10.99
Paperback
On Writing
Added to basket
£10.99   £8.99
Paperback
To the Lighthouse
Added to basket
Wide Sargasso Sea
Added to basket
£7.99   £5.99
Paperback
Autumn Journal
Added to basket
£10.99
Paperback
A Moveable Feast
Added to basket
£7.99   £6.49
Paperback
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Added to basket
Uncle Tom's Cabin
Added to basket
Jane Austen
Added to basket
£9.99
Paperback
How Proust Can Change Your Life
Added to basket

Reviews

Please sign in to write a review

Your review has been submitted successfully.