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The Victorian Frame of Mind, 1830-1870 by…

The Victorian Frame of Mind, 1830-1870

by Walter E. Houghton

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One of my grad school teachers gave this to me years ago and I have returned to it again and again over the years. I haven't begun to plumb its depths. Its a great guidebook to the Victorian mind. I'm not a professor, by the way, just always been interested in the Victorians. ( )
  ChrisNewton | Jul 4, 2013 |
In this book, Walter Houghton attempts to chronicle the major streams of Victorian philosophical and literary thought. It's an amazingly thorough project-- his bibliography is some fifteen pages long, and it only includes the sources he cited at least three times! He apparently spent 25 years of his life on it, and it shows. He communicates the major themes of the Victorian era well, especially the anxiety that gripped Britain at the time. For the first time, society was changing so fast that people were aware of it, but unlike in the present, they still had an expectation that things would settle down and crystallize after a while; they just had to muddle through until then. Too bad for them it never really worked out. However, Houghton's almost too thorough-- many of his ideas tend to repeat themselves throughout the book-- and though everything he says about the Victorian era is backed up with a million quotes, he has no problem at all with making sweeping, unsupported generalizations about anything after 1870. Still, worth a look for anyone interested in the time period, though it might be better called John Stuart Mill's Frame of Mind, given how often Houghton quotes him.
  Stevil2001 | Feb 8, 2009 |
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To my father and mother and my sister Nan
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In 1858 a Victorian critic, searching for an epithet to describe "the remarkable period in which our own lot is cast," did not call it the age of democracy or industry or science, nor of earnestness or optimism. The one distinguishing fact about the time was "that we are living in an age of transition."
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