Attitudes toward punishment and forgiveness in English society of the nineteenth century came, for the most part, out of Christianity. In actual experience the ideal was not often met, but in the literature of the time the model was important. For novelists attempting to tell exciting and dramatic stories, violent and criminal activities played an important role, and, according to convention, had to be corrected through poetic justice or human punishment. Both Dickens’ and Thackeray’s novels subscribed to the ideal, but dealt with the dilemma it presented in slightly different ways.
At a time when a great deal of attention has been directed toward economic production and consumption as the bases for value, Reed’s well-documented study reviving moral belief as a legitimate concern for the analysis of nineteenth-century English texts is particularly illuminating.
John Reed is professor of English at Wayne State University. His most recent books include Victorian Conventions (1975) and The Natural History of H.G. Wells (1982), both published by Ohio University Press. More info →
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Of the many literary phenomena that sprang up in eighteenth-century England and later became a staple of Victorian culture, one that has received little attention until now is the “Family Bible with Notes.” Published in serial parts to make it affordable, the Family Bible was designed to enhance the family’s status and sense of national and imperial identity.Imperial
Since the publication of The Moral Trollope by Ruth apRoberts in 1971, literary critics have generally agreed that Trollope’s morality is worthy of study. apRoberts sees Trollope as an early exponent of “situation ethics,” a liberal moralist who believes that traditional principles must always bend to the circumstances of the particular case.
Wuthering Heights at once fascinates and frustrates the reader with the highly charged, passionate and problematic relationships it portrays. This study provides a key to the text by examining the temporal and narrative rhythms through which Brontë presents the dualities by which we commonly define our selfhood: child and adult, female and male, symbiosis and separateness, illogic and common sense, classlessness and classboundedness, play and power, free will and determinism.
Nigerian video films—dramatic features shot on video and sold as cassettes—are being produced at the rate of nearly one a day, making them the major contemporary art form in Nigeria. The history of African film offers no precedent for such a huge, popularly based industry.
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