Drawing on recent work in critical theory, feminism, and social history, this book explains the relationship between the novel and the emergent commodity culture of Victorian England, using the image of the "display window". Novels Behind Glass analyzes the work of Thackeray, Eliot, Dickens, Trollope, and Gaskell, to demonstrate that the Victorian novel provides us with graphic and enduring images of the power of commodities to affect our beliefs about gender, community, and individual identity. It will be of interest to students of Victorian literature and history as well as social and cultural theory.
Acknowledgements; 1. Introduction; 2. Longing for sleeve buttons; 3. Spaces of exchange: interpreting the Great Exhibition of 1851; 4. The fragments and small opportunities of Cranford; 5. Rearranging the furniture of Our Mutual Friend; 6. Owning up: possessive individualism in Trollope's Autobiography and The Eustace Diamonds; 7. Middlemarch and the solicitude of material culture; Afterword; Notes; Bibliography.
"Miller's examination of narrative strategies dealing with Victorian anxieties about commodities is well worth reading for anyone interested in these five authors and those interested in the treatment of the commodity in Victorian fictions generally." Victorian Review
"The chapters devoted to individual novels can fruitfully be read independently of each other. Read in its entirely, however, Novels Behind Glass uncovers illuminating points of intersection and divergence among Our Mutual Friend and Cranford, The Eustace Diamonds, and Middlemarch. Published as part of Cambridge's Literature, Culture, Theory series, Novels Behind Glass is an original volume that is sure to emerge as one of the important recent studies of Victorian fiction." Patricia O'Hara, Dickens Quarterly
"Reading Victorian literature as a ledger of captalism's psychic costs, Novels, Behind Glass helps us restore such fatalities to full view." Jeff Nunokawa, Victorian Studies