Victoriographies Vol. 1, No. 2, November 2011 Now Available

The newest issues of Victoriographies is now available, featuring the following articles:

‘Mad music rising’: Chopin, Sex, and Secret Language in Arthur Symons’ ‘Christian Trevalga’

Nick Freeman

Citation Information. Victoriographies. Volume 1, Page 157-176 DOI 10.3366/vic.2011.0027, ISSN 2044-2416, Available Online November 2011 .

This essay examines Arthur Symons’ short story, ‘Christian Trevalga’ from his Spiritual Adventures (1905). It aims to a) situate it in the context of wider late-Victorian considerations of pianistic performance and Symons’ adulation of Vladimir de Pachmann, b) examine its application of Symons’ theories about music, as advanced in his contemporaneous critical essays, and c) investigate the ways in which the story makes a suggestive link between music and sexual orientation with especial reference to the fictional encounter between Trevalga and Tchaikovsky in the Vienna of the 1890s.

Keywords. Symons, Pachmann, Chopin, homosexuality, piano music, performance

‘Incessant toil and hands innumerable’: Mining and Poetry in the Northeast of England

Citation Information. Victoriographies. Volume 1, Page 177-201 DOI 10.3366/vic.2011.0028, ISSN 2044-2416, Available Online November 2011 .

In this essay, Keegan begins with a broad discussion of the representation of miners and mining in British poetry prior to 1900. She then offers an overview of poetry written specifically by miners. The essay focuses on two poets, both lead miners in the northeast of England in the second half of the nineteenth century, and both of whose works speak to the cultural and economic impact of rural diaspora. For Thomas Blackah (1828–95) and Richard Watson (1833–91), their unique poetic identities are bound up in their particular dale with its particular dialect. While any poet’s intentions in writing are many, both clearly see poetry as preserving and affirming declining communities and celebrating and conserving the natural environment that is a defining feature of that community. Their poetry highlights the distinctive language and the natural environment of their native northeastern regions, and these elements define how they conceive of themselves as artists. Blackah’s and Watson’s poetry depicts a rootedness in the landscape that exists in tension with the displacements caused by changing industrial and economic conditions.

Keywords. Mining, Poetry, Labouring-Class Culture, Regional Dialect, Richard Watson, Thomas Blackah

Oscar Wilde and Friedrich Nietzsche: ‘Rebels in the name of beauty’

Citation Information. Victoriographies. Volume 1, Page 202-220 DOI 10.3366/vic.2011.0029, ISSN 2044-2416, Available Online November 2011 .

‘Oscar Wilde and Friedrich Nietzsche: “Rebels in the Name of Beauty” ’ reconsiders the intellectual confluence of Oscar Wilde and Friedrich Nietzsche. It is unlikely that Wilde and Nietzsche knew of each other. Yet, similarities between their conceptions of truth, aesthetic experience, individualism, and ethics, as well as their highly evocative, aphoristic styles, have drawn a large number of critics – from Thomas Mann to Patrick Bridgwater and Julia Prewitt Brown – to compare them. Such comparisons have, though, been brief and often focused on biographical parallels. This article provides, therefore, the first substantial discussion of the dynamics between the ideas of Wilde and Nietzsche. It argues that the parallels between Wilde and Nietzsche centre on their Romantic Individualism, and the shared belief that the individual ‘become[s] himself’ through aesthetic experience. The textual foci are four works written within three years of each other: Nietzsche’s The Antichrist (1888) and Twilight of the Idols (1889), and Wilde’s ‘The Soul of Man Under Socialism’ (1891) and ‘The Critic as Artist’ (1891). These works, I argue, define Romantic Individualism through the strikingly similar, secular, appropriation of Jesus, whilst stylistically exemplifying the way in which the Romantic Individual may be brought into being through the experience of literary art.

Keywords. individualism, Romanticism, truth, aesthetics, Jesus

Trollope and the Hunt for West Country Identity

Citation Information. Victoriographies. Volume 1, Page 221-242 DOI 10.3366/vic.2011.0030, ISSN 2044-2416, Available Online November 2011 .

This essay explores the intersection between the politics of regionalism and recreation in Anthony Trollope’s Barsetshire novels. The relationship between narrative structure and local environment articulated in Trollope’s series links the form of the Victorian regional novel to an interrogation of England’s relationship to its internal geography by questioning, in effect, how a region can remain autonomous and yet be a resource for national identity. Trollope’s response is to use the regional practice of fox-hunting to preserve the West Country’s unique place in the national imagination through sport. Situating the Barsetshire novels within hunting’s vexed place in nineteenth-century rural communities and focusing on Doctor Thorne, I suggest that Trollope advances a conservative ideology that the region’s identity can only be sustained through preserving country house culture. Trollope represents hunting as an ingrained rural custom, thus paradoxically using a national sport to promote regional insularity and justify the landowning class’ social control of the region.

Keywords. Barsetshire, Doctor Thorne, fox-hunting, region novel, estate, recreation

Vestiges of the Phoenix: De Quincey, Kant and the Heavens

Citation Information. Victoriographies. Volume 1, Page 243-260 DOI 10.3366/vic.2011.0031, ISSN 2044-2416, Available Online November 2011 .

This essay examines the context surrounding Thomas De Quincey’s 1846 essay, ‘System of the Heavens as Revealed by Lord Rosse’s Telescope’, placing it in relation to the thesis of Robert Chambers’ then anonymous proto-evolutionary Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation. I argue that De Quincey’s essay – which never mentions Vestiges  – can be read as an attempt to refute the ‘succession’ model of evolution and development put forward by Chambers, and that it does so by turning to Immanuel Kant’s ‘Phoenix of Nature’. The article traces the complex relationship between De Quincey and Kant’s model of the Heavens through a comprehensive analysis of both Kant and astronomy in De Quincey’s voluminous body of work, complicating our understanding of De Quincey’s relationship to the ‘destroyer’ of Königsberg, and revealing the crisis of experience that emerged in De Quincey’s engagement with Kant and the Heavens.

Keywords. De Quincey, Kant, Chambers, Astronomy, Experience, Evolution

Domesticating Socialism and the Senses in Jane Hume Clapperton’s Margaret Dunmore: Or, A Socialist Home

Citation Information. Victoriographies. Volume 1, Page 261-286 DOI 10.3366/vic.2011.0032, ISSN 2044-2416, Available Online November 2011 .

Domesticating Socialism and the Senses in Jane Hume Clapperton’s Margaret Dunmore: Or, A Socialist Home

Clapperton’s utopian novel, Margaret Dunmore: Or, A Socialist Home (1888), provides a good example of the way in which matters of everyday life – food, childcare, the home – were increasingly implicated in agendas for social transformation in the fin-de-siècle period, and seen as problems that could be solved by modernity. The varying programmes for change offered by socialists and feminists in this period, however, could reflect sharply divergent views of the pleasures and politics of everyday life, and Clapperton’s novel assumes a disparity between ‘social happiness’ and the sensory experience of the individual that warrants examination. Beginning with an overview of Clapperton’s theory of ‘conscious’ evolution which takes the home as the locus of social transformation, this essay will focus on the place of the senses and emotions in Margaret Dunmore, written to exemplify Clapperton’s political philosophy of ‘Scientific Meliorism’ which combined socialism and feminism with evolutionary and eugenic theory. In this novel, the individual’s sensory experience poses a threat to the well-being of the ideal community. Unlike emotions, which Clapperton depicts as amenable to conscious adaptation through a combination of social correction and self-scrutiny, sensory experience is inherently anti-social, immune to the claims of service to others which was crucial to Clapperton’s understanding of socialism. From childcare to cooking, forms of sensory deprivation are heralded as the key to efficiently resolving the disorder or conflict caused by over-stimulation or self-indulgence. As a result, despite Clapperton’s emphasis on the ‘evolution of happiness’, the value placed on rationality, technology, and self-control over convivial pleasures means that the constrictions and inequities of bourgeois domesticity are merely reconfigured rather than abolished.

Keywords. utopian fiction, socialism, feminism, eugenics, evolution, senses, emotions


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