First published in 1984. Signs for the Times explores imaginative and creative relationships between three major areas of mid-Victorian arts: literature, painting and architecture. Through the detailed critical analysis of particular novels, prose writings, paintings and buildings, Chris Brooks establishes a fusion of realistic and symbolic values that he sees as central to the Victorian creative imagination. He argues that the creative achievement of the mid-nineteenth century needs to be seen far more as a whole than it has previously, and that fundamental imaginative terms are common to art and architecture, to major theoretical writers such as Carlyle, Ruskin and Rugin as well as to the central literary figure of Dickens.
All those interested in literature, art, or architecture will welcome this interpretation of symbolic realism within the mid-Victorian world.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations; Acknowledgements; Prefatory Note; 1. Introductory; Part One; 2. ‘Flame-Images’: Carlyle and the Symbolic Reading of History 3. ‘The Magic Reel’: Metaphor and Reality in The Old Curiosity Shop 4. ‘What the Waves Were Always Saying’: Symbolic Realism in Dombey and Son and David Copperfield 5. ‘Bricked In on All Sides’: Symbolic Exemplification in Bleak House and Hard Times 6. ‘The Prison of This Lower World’: Reality and the Transcendental in Little Dorrit 7. ‘Recalled to Life’: The Christian Myth of A Tale of Two Cities 8. ‘Our Feverish Contact Fly’: Arnold and the Symbol in Retreat; Part Two; 9. ‘Bona Fide Imitation’: Pictorial Realism and Modern Painters 10. ‘The World without Eyelids’: Symbolic Realism and Pre-Raphaelite Painting 11. ‘Things as They Really Are’: Four Pre-Raphaelite Pictures; Part Three; 12. ‘Functional and Mystical’: Architectural Meaning and Puginian Gothic 13. ‘Making the Building Speak’: Symbolism and the Gothic Revival 14. ‘Without Flow or Continuity’: The Architectural Semantic of William Butterfield; Epilogue; Notes; Index