Victorian novel is one of the most outstanding literary products of this age.
It has already happened and became practically the mirror of the age, reflecting many situations and the fundamental contradictions of it, and a sort of source of discussion (the social, political and economic complexity has grown).
The production of the novel was so large that defined three stages of development: Early-Victorian novel, Mid-Victorian novel and Late-Victorian novel.
The majority of authors dealt with the industrial society, so with industrial problems and labour force in a time of progress.
Social-problem novel → Gaskell
Concentrating on the social problem deriving from industrial development is Elizabeth Gaskell.
Concerned with turmoil years – Hungry Forties
The most difficult time for the lower classes was during the Hungry Forties.
One characteristic that links the Victorian novel with the Augustan one is that authors set their novel always in a contemporary situation.
“Mary Barton” 1848 – realistic portrayal of new phenomenon of industrial cities and its real people - human picture of the working class – desperation, bitterness of social conditions + bare display of HATRED of factory owners - tragic heroes very difficult reality
Movement of workers trying to obtain some rights.
Elizabeth Gaskell inquired into the world of workers.
Gaskell is one of the authors who most realistically did that: other authors as Dickens did that more symbolically, sentimentally and less realistically, in order to attract higher classes attention: she did not modify the picture.
Dickens instead slightly modified it trying to propose similar topics in terms for larger discussion and also proposing them in a sentimental ways.
Novel of Manners → Thackeray
The Novel of Manners became a real genre.
Sentimental-Humanitarian Novel → Dickens
Even if the working class was not Dickens’ primary interest, it became later.
Psychological Novel → Bronte, Stevenson
Part of their Psychological Novel was the so-called children’s literature.
Stevenson was also very famous for his adventure novel.
Naturalitic Novel → Hardy
Hardy is an author who became the only representative of naturalism in England, in fact he’s compared with Verga.
He dealt with the peasant class, taking into consideration the woman, the weakest member, who was, in his very objective and realistic view, a beautiful young woman. He became a scandalous author and was banned: he dealt with rape and suicide of children, proposing a very harsh reality.
He succeeded in representing a very different situation and in proposing a deeper philosophical view, influenced by great authors as Schopenhauer and Darwin, describing a universe where God has left man, who has no power, completely alone.
Nonsensical Novel → Carrol (fantasy/ psychology)
Detective Story → Conan Doyle
Another product of the age was the Detective Story, born in the reality of London with its very crime high rate: Doyle tried to reflect this reality.
He invented in fact Sherlock Holmes.
He focused on a very different world.