Books Should Be Free is now
Loyal Books
Free Public Domain Audiobooks & eBook Downloads
Search by: Title, Author or Keyword

The Victorian Age in Literature   By: (1874-1936)

Book cover

First Page:

HOME UNIVERSITY LIBRARY

OF MODERN KNOWLEDGE

No. 61

Editors:

THE RT. HON. H. A. L. FISHER, M.A., F.B.A.

PROF. GILBERT MURRAY, LITT.D., LL.D., F.B.A.

PROF. SIR J. ARTHUR THOMSON, M.A.

PROF. WILLIAM T. BREWSTER, M.A.

A complete classified list of the volumes of The Home University Library already published to be found at the back of this book.

THE VICTORIAN AGE IN LITERATURE

BY

G. K. CHESTERTON

NEW YORK HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY

LONDON THORNTON BUTTERWORTH LTD.

COPYRIGHT, 1913,

BY

HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY

CONTENTS

CHAP. PAGE

INTRODUCTION 7

I THE VICTORIAN COMPROMISE AND ITS ENEMIES 12

II THE GREAT VICTORIAN NOVELISTS 90

III THE GREAT VICTORIAN POETS 156

IV THE BREAK UP OF THE COMPROMISE 204

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 253

INDEX 255

The Editors wish to explain that this book is not put forward as an authoritative history of Victorian literature. It is a free and personal statement of views and impressions about the significance of Victorian literature made by Mr. Chesterton at the Editors' express invitation.

THE VICTORIAN AGE IN LITERATURE

INTRODUCTION

A section of a long and splendid literature can be most conveniently treated in one of two ways. It can be divided as one cuts a currant cake or a Gruyère cheese, taking the currants (or the holes) as they come. Or it can be divided as one cuts wood along the grain: if one thinks that there is a grain. But the two are never the same: the names never come in the same order in actual time as they come in any serious study of a spirit or a tendency. The critic who wishes to move onward with the life of an epoch, must be always running backwards and forwards among its mere dates; just as a branch bends back and forth continually; yet the grain in the branch runs true like an unbroken river.

Mere chronological order, indeed, is almost as arbitrary as alphabetical order. To deal with Darwin, Dickens, Browning, in the sequence of the birthday book would be to forge about as real a chain as the "Tacitus, Tolstoy, Tupper" of a biographical dictionary. It might lend itself more, perhaps, to accuracy: and it might satisfy that school of critics who hold that every artist should be treated as a solitary craftsman, indifferent to the commonwealth and unconcerned about moral things. To write on that principle in the present case, however, would involve all those delicate difficulties, known to politicians, which beset the public defence of a doctrine which one heartily disbelieves. It is quite needless here to go into the old "art for art's sake" business, or explain at length why individual artists cannot be reviewed without reference to their traditions and creeds. It is enough to say that with other creeds they would have been, for literary purposes, other individuals. Their views do not, of course, make the brains in their heads any more than the ink in their pens. But it is equally evident that mere brain power, without attributes or aims, a wheel revolving in the void, would be a subject about as entertaining as ink. The moment we differentiate the minds, we must differentiate by doctrines and moral sentiments. A mere sympathy for democratic merry making and mourning will not make a man a writer like Dickens. But without that sympathy Dickens would not be a writer like Dickens; and probably not a writer at all. A mere conviction that Catholic thought is the clearest as well as the best disciplined, will not make a man a writer like Newman. But without that conviction Newman would not be a writer like Newman; and probably not a writer at all. It is useless for the æsthete (or any other anarchist) to urge the isolated individuality of the artist, apart from his attitude to his age... Continue reading book >>




eBook Downloads
ePUB eBook
• iBooks for iPhone and iPad
• Nook
• Sony Reader
Kindle eBook
• Mobi file format for Kindle
Read eBook
• Load eBook in browser
Text File eBook
• Computers
• Windows
• Mac

Review this book



Popular Genres
More Genres
Languages
Paid Books