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Fiction Studies: Victorian and Modern


FICTION STUDIES             
Victorian and Modern
by C H Muller       US price: $16.95    UK price £11.49
Format: Paperback
Size: 6 x 9
Pages: 184
ISBN: 0-07-450587-4
Published by McGraw-Hill Book Company
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This volume presents a collection of studies on twelve novels or novelists from the Victorian and modern tradition. The list of Contents is as follows:

1.   Victorian Sensationalism: The short stories of Wilkie Collins          0074505874
2.   The Moonstone: Victorian detective novel
3.   The Cloister and the Hearth: Its literary reception and historic fidelity
4.   The Cloister and the Hearth: Its wide and enduring appeal
5.   Alton Locke: Kingsley's dramatic sermon
6.   Great Expectations: Snobbery, ingratitude, and guilt
7.   Hard Times: Hard facts, human personality and snobbery
8.   The Mill on the Floss: Maggie's tragic destiny
9.   The First Men in the Moon: The culmination of a tradition
10. Typhoon: Dramatic revelation of storm and character
11. The Heart of the Matter: Psychological melodrama
12. The Comedians: Graham Greene and the absurd

The fiction studies included in this volume have been gleaned from past issues of Unisa English Studies (the journal of the English Department of the University of South Africa), Crux (published by the Foundation for Education, Science and Technology in Pretoria, South Africa), and Communiqué (the journal of the language Bureau of the University of the North in South Africa). The author was himself the editor of Unisa English Studies and Communiqué, and for ten years was Professor and Head of the Department of English at the University of the North.

While the studies on Wilkie Collins, Charles Reade and Graham Greene were originally published in academic journals, the studies that appeared in Crux (on Dickens, George Eliot, Joseph Conrad and H.G.Wells) were written with high school students in mind. These studies may therefore be more 'popular' in style and content than those which appeared in the academic journals. It is hoped, however, that in bringing together these somewhat diverse studies, this volume will appeal to a wider range of readers than would be represented by a strictly 'academic' readership.

Extract from the Introduction:

In selecting the studies the author has attempted to see a continuity in the development of fiction over the past one hundred and fifty years, especially concerning character portrayal and theme.

When fiction became an article of mass production following the rise of a new reading public after the Industrial Revolution, the demand was primarily for entertainment. This might account for such ingredients as horror and crime in the Victorian sensation story. The popularity of melodrama to the virtual exclusion of psychological exposition in character portrayal  was, for many of the Victorian critics, a symptom of the deterioration in literary taste. More serious purveyors of fiction, or, indeed, masters of fiction like Wilkie Collins, Charles Reade and Charles Dickens, were not above using the appeal of melodrama for the dramatic revelation of character. From the 'dramatic' melodrama of these authors it is possible to see a line of development towards the psychological melodrama that gives greater realism to the characters portrayed by modern masters such as Joseph Conrad and Graham Greene. Conflicts within the psyche of the main character - such as that which leads to the demise of Scobie in Greene's Heart of the Matter - might be seen as an internalization of an earlier melodramatic tradition, producing a new intensification in dramatic character revelation.