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Popular Literature, Authorship and the Occult in Late Victorian Britain

$103.00 (C)

Part of Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture

  • Date Published: September 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107064423

$ 103.00 (C)

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About the Authors
  • With the increasing commercialization of publishing at the end of the nineteenth century, the polarization of serious literature and popular fiction became a commonplace of literary criticism. Andrew McCann cautions against this opposition by arguing that popular fiction's engagement with heterodox conceptions of authorship and creativity complicates its status as mere distraction or entertainment. Popular writers such as George Du Maurier, Marie Corelli, Rosa Praed and Arthur Machen drew upon a contemporary fascination with occult practices to construct texts that had an intensely ambiguous relationship to the proprietary notions of authorship that were so central to commercial publishing. Through trance-induced or automatic writing, dream states, dual personality and the retrieval of past lives channeled through mediums, they imagined forms of authorship that reinvested popular texts with claims to aesthetic and political value that cut against the homogenizing pressures of an emerging culture industry.

    • Proposes exciting new connections between late-Victorian popular fiction and ideas of the occult
    • Offers a new account of the relationship between popular literature, the occult, and the late nineteenth-century commercialization of literary culture
    • Presents new readings of key figures including George Du Maurier and Marie Corelli, as well as neglected figures including Walter Besant, Rosa Praed and Arthur Machen
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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2014
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107064423
    • length: 210 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 13 mm
    • weight: 0.45kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: popular fiction as media histrionics
    1. Property, professionalism and the pathologies of literature: Walter Besant and the discourse of authorship circa 1890
    2. Dreaming true: aesthetic experience, psychiatric power and the paranormal in George Du Maurier's Peter Ibbetson
    3. Marie Corelli and the spirit of the market
    4. Writing aestheticism through colonial eyes: Rosa Praed and the theosophical novel
    5. Arthur Machen and the 'Differentia of Literature'
    Conclusion: the popular fiction of critical theory

  • Author

    Andrew McCann, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire
    Andrew McCann is currently an associate professor in the Department of English at Dartmouth College. He is author of Cultural Politics in the 1790s: Literature, Radicalism and the Public Sphere (1999) and Marcus Clarke's Bohemia: Literature and Modernity in Colonial Melbourne (2004).

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