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Title: Spurious Victorians : imitation and the nineteenth-century novel
Author: Abraham, Adam
ISNI:       0000 0004 6495 3804
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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In 'A Critique of Modern Textual Criticism', Jerome J. McGann writes, '[A]n author's work possesses autonomy only when it remains an unheard melody'. For the published and successful writer in the nineteenth century, such autonomy was often unattainable. Publications such as The Pickwick Papers inspired an array of opportunistic successors, including stage plays, unauthorized sequels, jest books, song books, and shilling and penny imitations. Despite the proliferation, this strain of writing is rarely studied. This thesis recovers ephemeral, scurrilous texts, often anonymous or pseudonymous, and reads them in the context of their canonical sources. Retrieving bibliographical environments, it demonstrates how plagiaristic, parodic, and willfully unoriginal works impacted on the careers of three novelists: Charles Dickens, Edward Bulwer Lytton, and George Eliot. The thesis argues that formal distinctions among modes of Victorian writing - criticism, parody, and plagiarism - often blur. Further, it argues that our understanding of a particular novelist's work must be broadened to include sequels, spinoffs, and imitations: to know a particular author means to know the spurious and oftentimes bad (morally or aesthetically) works that the author inspired. The Spurious Victorians of the title form something of countercanon to the 'major' writers of the period. Thomas Peckett Prest, Rosina Bulwer Lytton, and Joseph Liggins, among many others, informed and influenced the literary history that has in turn denied them admission. William Makepeace Thackeray wrote, 'If only men of genius were to write, Lord help us! how many books would there be?' Of course, Victorian print culture found room for the genius and the subgenius, Boz as well as Bos. 'Spurious Victorians' recovers works that have been lost from view in order to better understand the process by which an individual authorial voice emerged amid an echo chamber of competing, imitative voices.
Supervisor: Douglas-Fairhurst, Robert Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English literature--19th century--History and criticism ; Plagiarism--Great Britain--History--19th century ; Parody in literature ; Intellectual property--Great Britain--History--19th century