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Title: Novel criticism in the eighteen-eighties
Author: Peck, John
ISNI:       0000 0001 3481 9792
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1975
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Most theoretical discussions of the novel published in the eighties were crude and unimpressive, but the criticism of individual novels was more interesting. Discussing novelists such as Payn and Oliphant critics showed that they were not prepared to accept any novel just because it was constructed along traditional lines. Meredith was the most respected novelist. He defended accepted moral values but in a way that struck his contemporaries as ambitious and original. Other novelists were less acceptable because they challenged the moral convictions of the critics. Zola's novels provoked intense controversy, but the excitement was short-lived. However, his realism did inspire a whole new movement of reaction---the revival of romance. This fiction was escapist and therefore unpopular with critics, who preferred realistic fiction, but realistic fiction that endorsed traditional moral values. They particularly admired philan-thropic themes and admired Gissing for his use of them. But Gissing dealt with the failure of philanthropy. This led onto wider doubts about the social system and a new emphasis on the individual. Suchan emphasis was unacceptable to critics who preferred a picture of\social integration. James made a greater emphasis on the individual than any other novelist in the period and his work baffled critics. Hardy started with concepts of community and shared values but showed their disintegration. Critics refused to accept his vision and misinterpreted his works as pictures of a structured social order. Wishing novelists would present a vision of social cohesion critics referred back to George Eliot, although her vision was not as straightforwardly positive as most critics seemed to believe. Critics would have liked novelists in the 'eighties to emulate her though socialpicture. They wanted to see a picture of society functioning well, not a pessimistic picture of social chaos.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English Literature