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Inventing the Victorians (2001)
Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0571206638, Paperback)Suppose that everything we think we know about 'The Victorians' is wrong? That we have persistently misrepresented their culture, perhaps to make ourselves feel more satisfyingly liberal and sophisticated? What if they were much more fun than we ever suspected? As Matthew Sweet shows us in this brilliant study, many of the concepts that strike us as terrifically new - political spin-doctoring, extravagant publicity stunts, hardcore pornography, anxieties about the impact of popular culture upon children - are Victorian inventions. Most of the pleasures that we imagine to be our own, the Victorians enjoyed first: the theme park, the shopping mall, the movies, the amusement arcade, the crime novel and the sensational newspaper report. They were engaged in a well-nigh continuous search for bigger and better thrills. If Queen Victoria wasn't amused, then she was in a very small minority ...Matthew Sweet's book is an attempt to re-imagine the Victorians; to suggest new ways of looking at received ideas about their culture; to distinguish myth from reality; to generate the possibility of a new relationship between the lives of 19th-century people and our own.
(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 06 Mar 2013 19:53:28 -0500)
"In 1918, Lytton Strachey declared that 'the history of the Victorian age will never be written. We know too much about it.' But he wasn't quite right. The real problem is this: we have systematically forgotten many of the most interesting and distinctive aspects of the period, and much of what we think we know about it is utterly false, fabricated in the twentieth century and lazily accepted as truth ever since." "Spot the deliberate fiction on this list: Queen Victoria had a Nigerian god-daughter; William Gladstone once knocked back so much laudanum that he had to go to Baden Baden to recuperate; the flourishing Victorian porn industry was founded by a group of Chartists who wanted to use sexually explicit material to hasten the British Revolution; Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man, negotiated a fifty-fifty box office split with his management team; Britain's first black professional footballer was Arthur Wharton, who played in goal for Preston North End and Rotherham in the 1880s and 90s; Sarah Grand, the author of the phenomenal 1890s bestseller The Heavenly Twins, fronted a publicity campaign for Sanatogen; sexually, Oscar Wilde was a pretty regular Victorian guy." "As this radical myth-busting reassessment of the Victorians and their world demonstrates, the answer is: none of the above."--BOOK JACKET.
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