Victorian novels remain enormously popular today: some continue to be made into films, while authors such as Charles Dickens and George Eliot are firmly established in the canon and taught at all levels. These works have also attracted a great deal of critical attention, with much current scholarship examining the novel in relation to its historical, political, and cultural contexts. This reference book is an introductory guide to the Victorian novel, its background, and its legacy. Each chapter is written by an expert contributor and offers a fresh account of past, current, and new directions in scholarship.
The volume is divided into several broad sections, with chapters in each section treating more specialized topics. The first section looks at the emergence of the Victorian novel and its literary precursors, with particular emphasis on the growth of serialization and the development of the novel of syndication. The second explores significant social and cultural facets of nineteenth-century British literature, while the third discusses the principal features of different genres, such as ghost stories, the Gothic, detective fiction, the social problem novel, and contemporary film adaptations. Individual authors are examined in the fourth section, while the fifth overviews various critical approaches and their application to nineteenth-century fiction.