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Everyday Words and the Character of Prose in Nineteenth-Century Britain

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Part of Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture

  • Date Published: February 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316632789

$ 25.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • Everyday Words and the Character of Prose in Nineteenth-Century Britain is an original and innovative study of the stylistic tics of canonical novelists including Austen, Dickens, Trollope, Thackeray and Eliot. Jonathan Farina shows how ordinary locutions such as 'a decided turn', 'as if' and 'that sort of thing' condense nineteenth-century manners, tacit aesthetics and assumptions about what counts as knowledge. Writers recognized these recurrent 'everyday words' as signatures of 'character'. Attending to them reveals how many of the fundamental forms of characterizing fictional characters also turn out to be forms of characterizing objects, natural phenomena and inanimate, abstract things, such as physical laws, the economy and legal practice. Ultimately, this book revises what 'character' meant to nineteenth-century Britons by respecting the overlapping, transdisciplinary connotations of the category.

    • Demonstrates the importance of critically neglected turns of phrase in nineteenth-century fiction and non-fiction
    • Responds to a growing academic interest in stylistic matters
    • Analyzes the work of major nineteenth-century novelists including Austen, Dickens, Trollope, Thackeray and Eliot
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Only in learning from Farina himself have I become more sensitized to the luminosity that inheres in the vernacular. Indeed, if we follow Farina along his chosen, if surprising path, we will enjoy the rewards of discovery - about character, the novel, and realism, about written worlds and the social existences we all inhabit. … [This book] has sharpened my awareness of how we use language with one another, even in my own everyday life.' Barabara Black, Review 19

    'Moving gracefully between the smallest units of language and the largest, Farina provides abundant insights into a range of nineteenth-century issues and texts. … Scholars of realism, liberal aesthetics, and what was once called the 'Victorian temper' will find much to interest and excite them.' Matthew Sussman, Modern Philology

    '… the insights and connections are excellent and important, and further work of this kind would be valuable. With the advent of digital humanities - even in such basic forms as the computer-assisted identification of keywords - work like this promises to shape reading practices and the knowledge emerging from them.’ Michael Wiley, The Wordsworth Circle

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316632789
    • length: 316 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 152 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.45kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Darwin's view from Todgers's: 'A decided turn' for character and common words
    2. Inductive 'attentions': Jane Austen in 'particular' and in 'general'
    3. 'Our skeptical as if': conditional analogy and the comportment of Victorian prose
    4. 'Something' in the way realism moves: Middlemarch and oblique character references
    5. 'Whoever explains a 'but'': tact and friction in Trollope's reparative fiction

  • Author

    Jonathan Farina, Seton Hall University, New Jersey
    Jonathan Farina is Associate Professor of Nineteenth-Century British Literature at Seton Hall University, New Jersey, where he is Director of the Center for Literature and the Public Sphere, and an Associate Director of the Honors Program. He is Associate Editor of The Wordsworth Circle.

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