British Literature

The Idea of Music in Victorian Fiction

The belief of track in Victorian Fiction seeks to deal with basic questions on the functionality, that means and figuring out of track in nineteenth-century tradition and society, as mediated via works of fiction. The 11 essays right here, written by way of musicologists and literary students, variety over a big variety of works by way of either canonical writers similar to Austen, Benson, Carlyle, Collins, Gaskell, Gissing, Eliot, Hardy, du Maurier and Wilde, and less-well-known figures equivalent to Gertrude Hudson and Elizabeth Sara Sheppard. every one essay explores various innovations for examining the assumption of tune within the Victorian novel. a few specialize in the measure to which scenes related to song remove darkness from what track intended to the author and modern performers and listeners, and represent musical tastes of the time and the reception of specific composers. different essays within the quantity study elements of gender, race, sexuality and sophistication which are illuminated by means of the deployment of tune by way of the novelist. including its better half quantity, The determine of tune in Nineteenth-Century British Poetry edited via Phyllis Weliver (Ashgate, 2005), this assortment indicates a brand new community of methodologies for the continued cultural and social research of nineteenth-century track as mirrored in that period's literary output.

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The narrator, Charles Auchester, is a talented young boy (11 when the story begins) obsessed with music. In the course of his musical studies in both England and Germany he encounters and interacts with the other characters of the story such as the Chevalier Seraphael, the impoverished, angelic diva Clara Benette, or the talented amateur pianist and music benefactor Miss Lawrence. Despite her overblown descriptions of music, music making and musical genius, Sheppard undoubtedly reflected commonly held mid-Victorian beliefs about music and musical life which rang a chord with her many enthusiastic readers.

These women inhabit a variety of novels (including best sellers, ‘new woman’ fiction and satirical comedy), ranging chronologically from Sheppard’s Charles Auchester (1853) and Counterparts, or The Cross of Love (1854) through George Meredith’s Sandra Belloni (1864) and Marie Corelli’s A Romance of Two Worlds (1886) to E. F. Benson’s Dodo: A 13 This is something that the reader of both novels has to take on trust. Neither author attempts more than a cursory description of each composer’s music, although they do describe other characters’ reactions to it.

As the nineteenth century progressed and increasing numbers of women made their way into public musical life as both amateurs and professionals, as orchestral musicians, piano tuners, 2 Hichens in now best remembered for The Green Carnation (1894), a satirical novel about Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas. See Joe Law’s chapter in this volume for discussion of this novel. 3 These included Mary Carmichael (1851–1935), Rosalind Ellicott (1857–1924), Ethel Harraden (1857–1916) and Maude Valérie White (1855–1937) – all of whom set his lyrics to music.

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