Nineteenth-Century

Easter Term 2018

Tuesday 1 May, 5pm, SR24 - Faculty of English

Juliette Atkinson (UCL) will speak on 'French Novels and the Victorians: A Methodological Approach’ (details below). All are most welcome to attend both the discussion, and informal drinks in the Granta afterwards. Jan, Marcus, Ruth and Ewan * French Novels and the Victorians: A Methodological Approach In 1998, Franco Moretti vividly depicted nineteenth-century England becoming ‘an island, repudiating its eighteenth-century familiarity with French books for Victorian autarky’. The ‘hostility to foreign forms’ meant that ‘many great themes’, such as adultery, were ‘almost denied right of entry into Britain’. The persistent notion of Victorian England’s cultural insularity, however, does not stand up to closer scrutiny. In fact, not only were French novels widely available and eagerly consumed, but the circulation of French ‘themes’, books and critics repeatedly prompted Victorian men and women of letters to re-examine their own cultural productions in light of this foreign invasion. This paper will provide an overview of the key trends concerning the reception of French novels between 1830 and 1870, and will think about how combining reception-study methodologies that are often kept distinct from each other challenges longstanding preconceptions about Anglo-French literary relations. The paper will explore in particular the transnational nature of British periodical culture, manifestations of cultural competition and literary protectionism, and the impact of debates concerning cultural similarity and difference.