Victorian culture

Periodisation In the strictest sense, the Victorian era covers the duration of Victoria's reign as Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Irelandfrom her accession on 20 June —after the death of her uncle, William IV —until her death on 22 Januaryafter which she was succeeded by her eldest son, Edward VII. Her reign lasted for 63 years and seven months, a longer period than any of her predecessors. The term 'Victorian' was in contemporaneous usage to describe the era.

Victorian culture

The omissions were indeed striking. He even claimed that Gibbon would have desired "nothing more Victorian culture than to see his work improved in this way.

But Bowdler was not quite what he seemed, or posterity, which invented the word "bowdlerize" to denote a foolish or misconceived editing of a text to remove contentious passages, has depicted.

To begin with, he did not actually edit Shakespeare Victorian culture Gibbon at all. The task was actually carried out by his sister Harriet, who was well enough known in society circles to have her portrait painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence 3.

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But the two considered it would be wrong to admit that a woman could actually understand the sexual allusions of Shakespeare's lewder passages, which it was necessary to do in order to excise them, of course, or some of Gibbon's notoriously lascivious footnotes, so it went out under his name - he was a doctor of medicine, after all, whose knowledge of such things would be accepted.

And then again, the first version of Bowdler's Shakespeare was produced not in the Victorian era, but as early asand the book reached its final form in Bowdler himself, in any case, was not a Victorian at all, but died in What counted, however, was not the genesis and original publication date of Bowdler's editions, but the fact that the Shakespeare at least went through 50 further editions all the way up toand this is why Bowdler, and Bowdlerization, a term invented inare thought of in general terms as "Victorian".

Life was not a task to him, but a sinecure: As the journalist W. Greg wrote admiringly of the great Victorian headmaster of Rugby boarding school, Thomas Arnold, 4 after his death inincidentally illustrating how much the values he described were shared across Europe: The predominant characteristic of Dr.

Life, in his view of it, was no pilgrimage of pleasure, but a scene of toil, of effort, of appointed work - of grand purposes to be striven for - of vast ends to be achieved - of fearful evils to be uprooted or trampled down - of sacred and mighty principles to be asserted and carried out.

Afterwards, athletics and 'good form', morals, respectability, and religion came to dominate their lives, to the detriment not only of freedom, as Strachey complained, but also of learning.

The dominant cultural models of the era, and through much of the nineteenth century, were Classical; the education of the upper and middle classes concentrated on Latin and Ancient Greek, and through the poetry, history, philosophy and drama of Classical authors, attempted to impart to young men values variously described as 'Corinthian', 'Athenian' or, at the tougher end of education, 'spartan'.

In architecture, Classical ideals of proportion dominated, derived from the Roman writer Vitruvius; in sculpture, the ideal form was considered to be embodied in Classical works such as the Apollo Belvedere 5. Artists like Constable and Turner, for all their later departure from Classical principles, went through this training, which left its indelible mark on their work.

Victorian culture

Macaulay's work proved a godsend to teachers attempting to make the Classics interesting and exciting for their pupils as well as edifying and uplifting. As Dr Arnold remarked: It has always seemed to me one of the great advantages of the course of study generally pursued in our English schools, that it draws our minds so continually to dwell upon the past.

Every day we are engaged in studying the languages, the history, and the thoughts of men who lived nearly or more than two thousand years ago; if we have to inquire about laws or customs, about works of art or science, they are the laws, customs, arts, and sciences, not of existing nations, but of those whose course has been long since ended.

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Arnold saw this study as a kind of moral and mental discipline that would equip boys with the sound principles needed for adult life. Gibbon certainly regarded history as 'philosophy teaching by examples', but in his use of irony and satire, not to speak of his sometimes scurrilous footnotes, he appeared to Victorian critics as essentially lacking in moral seriousness.

This, indeed, was for many Victorians a touchstone of literary and historical value. They were, in fact, among the first characteristic literary products of the dominant cultural movement of the first half of the nineteenth century, Romanticism, and Romanticism was itself not least a reaction against the rationalist and materialist spirit of the Enlightenment.

If the Enlightenment had stressed the need to subordinate the emotions to the intellect, Romanticism took the opposite line and stressed instead the emotions as the fundamental source of truth, authenticity and their expression in art.

The emergence of Romanticism reflected widespread European revulsion against the excesses of the Revolution and Terror in France, a revulsion shared in full measure in Britain, and widely ascribed to the hegemony of abstract and rigid conceptions of how human happiness was to be achieved.

At the same time, however, Romanticism was also a revolt against the social hierarchies and rigidities of the eighteenth century.

Often the artist himself was depicted as an isolated individual fighting against the world and defying convention: Beethoven rather than Haydn, for example. The idea of the tortured genius was central to the Romantic ideal of art. So too was the revival of interest in the Middle Ages, seen not as a dark period of credulity and superstition, but as an era of great deeds and deep emotions, far away from the prosaic and mechanical world of early industrial society.

Romantic groups such as the Pre-Raphaelites sought to return to a world not just before the Enlightenment but also, as their name deliberately proclaimed, the Renaissance, or at least its later phases. Romanticism depicted the wildness of nature as something not to be tamed and ordered, but to be admired as sublime and picturesque, more powerful than the ephemeral creations of humanity, as in Turner'sSnowstorm: The language of the Romantic poets emphasized its roots in ordinary speech, rejecting the artificiality of Classical metre and rhyme.

Romantic art aimed at arousing strong emotions, not just happiness and sadness, but particularly in its choice of subjects, awe, terror, even revulsion:'Victorian' has come to stand for a particular set of values, perceptions and experiences, many of which were shared by people in a variety of different countries, from Russia to America, Spain to Scandinavia and reflected in the literature and culture of the nineteenth century, up .

By the end of the century, however, the high noon of Victorian culture was starting to give way to more disturbing developments - the disintegration of musical tonality, the emergence of abstract art, the eruption of the 'primitive' into cultural styles and the arrival of modernism onto the artistic scene.

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Victorian culture

Victorian Literature and Culture seeks to publish innovative scholarship of broad interest to the field. We are especially interested in work that contributes or responds to the current moment of heightened methodological reflection, theoretical energy, and formal experimentation.

In the history of the United Kingdom, the Victorian era was the period of Queen Victoria's reign, from 20 June until her death on 22 January The era followed the Georgian period and preceded the Edwardian period, and its later half overlaps with the first part .

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