The January-May Marriage in Nineteenth-Century British Literature by E. GodfreyThe January-May Marriage in Nineteenth-Century British Literature by E. Godfrey

The January-May Marriage in Nineteenth-Century British Literature

byE. Godfrey

Hardcover | March 24, 2009

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 780 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


Marriage between older husbands and younger wives was common in nineteenth-century literature, and as Godfrey skillfully argues, provides a useful window into the dynamics of the patriarchic paradigm. Examining canonical and non-canonical texts from Sense and Sensibility to Dracula, this study finds that literary January-May marriages respond to distinctively nineteenth-century anxieties regarding gender roles by deploying a surprising range of modes—parody, incest, aesthetics, horror, economics, and love. The January-May Marriage in Nineteenth-Century British Literature ultimately argues that age—like race, sexuality and class—is an essential component of gendered identities.  

Esther Godfrey is Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina Upstate, where she teaches nineteenth-century British literature. She has published articles on gender, aging, and marriage in Studies in English Literature: 1500-1900, Topic, and Genders.
Title:The January-May Marriage in Nineteenth-Century British LiteratureFormat:HardcoverDimensions:268 pagesPublished:March 24, 2009Publisher:Palgrave Macmillan USLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230606733

ISBN - 13:9780230606739


Table of Contents

Intergenerational Marriages in Literature and the Nineteenth-Century Context
'Old Enough to Be Her Father': Incest Narratives in Dickens
Visualizing Power: Age, Embodiment, and Aesthetics
The Horror of Ageing: The January-May Marriage as Gothic Nightmare
Money Matters: Valuing Youth/Valuing Age
January-May Love and the Sacrificial Ideal
Conclusion: The January-May Marriage in Other Contexts

Editorial Reviews

"In her readings of primary materials, Godfrey skillfully unpacks the nuances of text and image.  Her book provides a compelling account of the January-May marriage in Victorian literature and art.  Those seeking a detailed discussion of middle-class gender and power in the nineteenth century will find that it repays close attention."--Victorian Studies“Reminding us how pervasive the representations of January-May marriages were in Victorian literature and the visual arts, from Jane Eyre, Middlemarch, and Bleak House to ‘Tithonus,’ ‘Pompilia,’ or Sir William Quiller Marriage ‘Mariage de Convenance’ sequence of paintings, Godfrey expertly discloses their mobile, unsettling implications.  If such marriages could suggest the traffic in women, they also underscored aging male bodies that rendered husbands vulnerable in the presence of young wives who might exercise desire--for wealth, status, or the attractions of younger men. Suggesting father-daughter incest in several of Dickens's narratives, the January-May marriage could also enact sacrificial or perverse love. Alert to the multiple valences of gender, power, and desire, Godfrey illuminates Victorian courtship and marriage narratives while also providing the historical back story of the trophy wife.”--Linda K. Hughes, Addie Levy Professor of Literature, Texas Christian University