First published in 1966, this book collects six essays which discuss the experience of social change as it reveals itself in the work of several nineteenth century novelists. In the novels studied, and the discussion of fiction that follows, the authors argue that all these novelists’ attempts to confront social change — to connect old with new, past with present and the attempted inclusiveness of vision in a changing society — sooner or later fail. The essays are polemic in arguing against the contemporary critical consensus that this failure is a limitation of imaginative intelligence rather than an endorsement of a receding past which the process of change was charged with destroying.
Table of Contents
Introduction; 1 James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales: ‘without a cross’ – David Howard 2 The Blithedale Romance and a Sense of Revolution – David Howard 3 Dickens and Dombey and Son: Past and Present Imperfect – John Lucas 4 Mrs. Gaskell and Brotherhood – John Lucas 5 George Gissing’s The Nether World – John Goode 6 The Art of Fiction: Walter Besant and Henry James