Posts Tagged ‘books’

You know how, while fun, Victorian books can be a little slow at times? Here you can read your favourite books, condensed to about four lines. Some are a little awkward, but some are really great, too. My favourite is from Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad:

Mr. Marlow

I’m the good side of mankind, upstanding and respectable.

Mr. Kurtz

I’m the bad side of mankind, once honorable, now mired in depravity.

The Jungle

I’m the heart of mankind, home to sinister darkness and corruption.

(Mr. Kurtz dies. Mr. Marlow is reborn.)


The actual Heart of Darkness is quite a magnificent story, a bit gothic and spooky, and very symbolic. It deals with empirism, and the corrupting power of society, the nineteenth-century trade with Africa, and colonialism. You can read it online here!


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One of my favourite Victorian novels is Anthony Trollope’s The Way We Live Now. Even though it is meant as a satirical novel and most characters and events are probably exaggerated, it seems to give quite a good image of Victorian society.

The book started as a series in the newspaper, which is visible in the many, many subplots. It is almost like a Victorian soap series! It deals with a bussinessman, who swindles people with crooked railway stock, a young baronet who tries to elope with a lady to use her money to gamble, a hack writer who tries to seduce newspaper owners so they will give her good reviews, and a girl trying to choose the right man to marry.

the novel is available online but in this case, I’d advise to buy an actual copy (it’s sold for around 11 USD on amazon) since the book is very long.

Want to read more? Here are two interesting essays:
Anthony Trollope
Reimagining Heroism on Victorianweb

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Southern Gothic literature builds on the traditions of the larger Gothic genre, typically including supernatural elements, mental disease, and the grotesque. Much Southern Gothic literature, however, eschews the supernatural and deals instead with disturbed personalities. Southern Gothic is known for its damaged and delusional characters, such as the heroines of Tennessee Williams’ plays. Instead of perpetuating romanticized stereotypes of the Antebellum South, Southern Gothic literature often brings the stock characters of melodrama and Gothic novels to a Southern context.

My favourite writer was only born three years before the end of the nineteenth century, so I hope you’ll forgive me for posting it here.

William Faulkner is an American fiction writer whose work is deeply rooted in the Southern United States, particularly in his home state of Mississippi. William Faulkner, who lived from 1897 to 1962, had a unique, stream-of-consciousness writing style and was far more experimental with his texts than many of his fellow writers were. Though relatively unknown for much of his career, Faulkner was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949. Today, William Faulkner is considered to be one of America’s greatest Southern writers, along with Mark Twain.

Probably his most well-known story is “A Rose for Emily,” which is both romantic and creepy. You can read it online, here.

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Many people with an interest in 19th century literature will have read some Oscar Wilde (or at least seen a movie adaption), but have you read the fairytales? Wilde’s fairytale are unlike most fairytales. They feature beautiful boys, and very sad endings.

During the 18th century, rational and Enlightened thinking was valued, and folk legends and fairytales were not popular at all. However in 1823, with the publication of Edgar Taylor’s translation of the Grimms’ Fairy Tales, (translated as German Popular Stories ), fairy tales became, almost overnight, a respectable study for antiquarians, an inspiration for poets, and a permissible source of wonder for the young (from

Wilde wrote subversively to undermine stereotypical Victorian values. “He clearly wanted to subvert the messages conveyed by [Hans] Andersen’s tales, but more important his poetical style recalled the rhythms and language of the Bible in order to counter the stringent Christian code” (from

A (bit lengthy) essay on the fairytales and how Wilde’s psyche can be known through them

Read some stories online

My favourite part, which shows the unexpected edge to the fairytales, is from “The Star-Child:”

And they fell on his neck and kissed him, and brought him into the palace and clothed him in fair raiment, and set the crown upon his head, and the sceptre in his hand, and over the city that stood by the river he ruled, and was its lord. Much justice and mercy did he show to all, […] taught love and loving-kindness and charity, and to the poor he gave bread, and to the naked he gave raiment, and there was peace and plenty in the land.
Yet ruled he not long, so great had been his suffering, and so bitter the fire of his testing, for after the space of three years he died. And he who came after him ruled evilly.


More or less related, if you are interested in reading, books, and studying online and connecting with other bibliophiles, check out this great site which has links to pretty much anything book-related:
100 Places to connect with bibliophiles online

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Recently I’ve been reading Women and Literature in Britain, 1800-1900 by Joanne Shattock, and it’s an absolutely delightful book. It describes both female writers and female writers in the 19th century, through essays by various writers. And even though all contributing writers are female, it is not a feminist manifesto but seems very objective in its observations.

My favourite chapter is about women and print, and the problem of women reading. Especially at the start of the 19th century, solitary reading was deemed a dangerous activity for women, unless it was the bible or light literature. Even though female writers were already an established practice, women’s reading was monitored to make sure they would not read the wrong kind of books. It is argued that middleclass women read most, because upperclass women were busy with social resposibilities, and working class women couldl often not afford literature or did not have the time to read.
The reason that reading things was so dangerous for women was because they read in a different way then men did. While men read with their head, women read with their bodies, and where therefore more vulnerable to the effects of literature. Women were scolded for reading light, frivolous novels, but on the other hand they were banned from reading scientific books.

In addition, the book has a very interesting chapter on children’s literature (for example the genre of consolation literature, which was hugely popular because of the many child deaths. Almost 15% of all children died in the 19th century, and these books could give children some consolation.) There are also chapters on theatre, poetry, the public debate and the domestic sphere. I would definately recommend this book. (A part of it is on Google Scholar)
Something different: I often get trackbacks of sites that cite my content, and usually they say ’19thcentury wrote a post about … here,’ but the other day I got one that said:
Henry David Thoreau wrote an interesting post today on Coffee houses. Here’s a quick excerpt
I guess it’s a mistake but wouldn’t it be interesting if Thoreau would write blogposts! (Maybe not about coffeehouses though…) It’s here

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To give you information about Jane Austen in general would be, I guess, a little superfluous. Instead, I’ll link you to my favourite Austen blog, my favourite Austen book, a Jane Austen action figure (!), and the beautiful portrait that was in the news a lot recently.

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Vampire literature is my favourite kind of literature! It doesn’t require a lot of introduction so I’ll get right on with the links.

This site is absolutely great, it has various vampire stories online. My all-time favourite is Carmilla, which is a little haunting but not too scary at all. It’s also not that long. You can also read Bram Stoker’s Dracula on this site, and read up on real vampires!.

This book seems very interesting. I haven’t read it so I don’t know if it’s as great as it seems, but it looks good.

If all this vampire literature made you scared, here is your solution. An Vampire hunting kit!
vampire hunting kit
You can even choose a regional variety if you want something more special. These kits were actually sold up to at least 1851!

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