The Victorian Art of Fiction
Nineteenth-Century Essays on the Novel
  • Publication Date: June 11, 2009
  • ISBN: 9781551117690 / 155111769X
  • 348 pages; 9" x 6"

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The Victorian Art of Fiction

Nineteenth-Century Essays on the Novel

  • Publication Date: June 11, 2009
  • ISBN: 9781551117690 / 155111769X
  • 348 pages; 9" x 6"

The Victorian Art of Fiction presents important Victorian statements on the form and function of fiction. The essays in this anthology address questions of genre, such as realism and sensationalism; questions of gender and authorship; questions of form, such as characterization, plot construction, and narration; and questions about the morality of fiction. The editor discusses where Victorian writing on the novel has been placed in accounts of the history of criticism and then suggests some reasons for reconsidering this conventional evaluation. Among the featured essayists and critics are John Ruskin, Walter Bagehot, George Henry Lewes, Leslie Stephen, Anthony Trollope, and Robert Louis Stevenson; the classic essays include George Eliot’s “Silly Novels by Lady Novelists” and Henry James’s “The Art of Fiction.”


“The aura of the magnificent novels of the Victorians sometimes obscures the analytic thinking about the genre that one knows had to accompany all the imaginative glory. Too often it is only the amusing obtuse contemporary review that gets remembered. From the year of Vanity Fair (1848) until Henry James’s proto-modern “Art of Fiction” of 1884, Rohan Maitzen’s important new anthology drawn from Victorian periodicals gives us the critical work that accompanied and shaped mid-Victorian fiction. A clear introduction and concise and accurate notes contextualize and enhance the criticism, and make this a book that should be useful for years to come.” — David Latané, Virginia Commonwealth University

A Note on the Texts

  1. Anonymous, Review of Jane Eyre
    Christian Remembrancer (1848)
  2. David Masson, Thackeray and Dickens
    North British Review (1851)
  3. George Henry Lewes, The Lady Novelists
    Westminster Review (1852)
  4. Anonymous, The Progress of Fiction as an Art
    Westminster Review (1853)
  5. Theodore Martin, Thackeray’s Works
    Westminster Review (1853)
  6. C.W. Russell, Novel-Morality: The Novels of 1853
    Dublin Review (1853)
  7. Margaret Oliphant, Modern Novelists—Great and Small
    Blackwood’s Magazine (1855)
  8. Marian Evans [George Eliot], The Natural History of German Life
    Westminster Review (1856)
  9. Marian Evans [George Eliot], Silly Novels by Lady Novelists
    Westminster Review (1856)
  10. W.R. Greg, False Morality of Lady Novelists
    National Review (1859)
  11. David Masson, from
    British Novelists and Their Styles (1859)
  12. Walter Bagehot, The Novels of George Eliot
    National Review (1860)
  13. Henry Mansel, Sensation Novels
    Quarterly Review (1863)
  14. Justin McCarthy, Modern Novelists: Charles Dickens
    Westminster Review (1864)
  15. George Henry Lewes, Criticism in Relation to Novels
    Fortnightly Review (1866)
  16. R.H. Hutton, The Empire of Novels
    The Spectator (1869)
  17. Edward Dowden, George Eliot
    Contemporary Review (1872)
  18. Leslie Stephen, Hours in a Library: Charlotte Brontë
    Cornhill Magazine (1877)
  19. Anthony Trollope, Novel-Reading
    The Nineteenth Century (1879)
  20. John Ruskin, Fiction—Fair and Foul
    The Nineteenth Century (1880)
  21. Robert Louis Stevenson, A Humble Remonstrance
    Longman’s Magazine (1884)
  22. Henry James, The Art of Fiction
    Longman’s Magazine (1884)

Biographical Notes
Works Cited and Further Reading
Author Index

Rohan Maitzen is Associate Professor of English at Dalhousie University.