The Victorian Novel Dreams of the Real: Conventions and Ideology

Hardcover | April 19, 2016

byAudrey Jaffe

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Critical discussions of the Victorian realist novel tend to focus on its vivid representations of everyday life. The Victorian Novel Dreams of the Real proposes that the genre is founded in desire, moving the novels not towards a shared reality but rather toward distinct fantasies: dreams ofthe real.Rather than simply redefine Victorian realism or propose a new canon for it, The Victorian Novel Dreams of the Real argues that the real is inevitably, for the Victorian realist novel, an object of desire: what the novel seeks to capture and represent. A novel's construction of the real is thereforeinseparable from its fantasy of the real - a formulation Audrey Jaffe refers to as "realist fantasy." One way in which this simultaneity manifests itself is that the conventions novels frequently use to represent characters' dreams, daydreams, and fantasies overlap with those each novel uses tocreate its realist effects. In new readings of Victorian novels (including Eliot's Adam Bede, Dickens's Oliver Twist, Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge and The Return of the Native, Trollope's Orley Farm, and Wilkie Collins's Armadale), The Victorian Novel Dreams of the Real demonstrates that one ofthe signal effects of this overlapping is Victorian realism's construction of the real as an object of readerly desire.Jaffe shows that realism and fantasy in the Victorian realist novel are not opposed, but rather occupy the same space and are shaped by the same conventions. Revisiting and reconsidering key elements of realist novel theory (including metonymy; the insignificant detail; character interiority; therepresentation of everyday life and the idea of disillusionment), The Victorian Novel Dreams of the Real also uncovers and anatomizes representational strategies unique to each text.

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Critical discussions of the Victorian realist novel tend to focus on its vivid representations of everyday life. The Victorian Novel Dreams of the Real proposes that the genre is founded in desire, moving the novels not towards a shared reality but rather toward distinct fantasies: dreams ofthe real.Rather than simply redefine Victoria...

Audrey Jaffe is Professor of English at the University of Toronto.

other books by Audrey Jaffe

Format:HardcoverDimensions:200 pages, 8.39 × 5.91 × 0.91 inPublished:April 19, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190269936

ISBN - 13:9780190269937

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"Jaffe argues that realism and fantasy overlap in the Victorian novel. Her account, showing how the period's desire to capture the real unsettles formal classifications, throws a revealing light on authors from Dickens to Virginia Woolf." --Patricia Ingham, author of The Brontes