Neo-Victorian Fiction


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Neo-Victorian Fiction

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Mar 25, 2012, 5:03am

Perhaps it would be interesting to discuss some Neo-Victorian fiction in this group. As a genre, Neo-Victorian fiction is widely recognized and taught at universities all over the world.

Neo-Victorian literature consists of fiction, which takes up Victorian ideas or style elements. Besides Neo-Victorian novels, such as by Sarah Waters' Tipping the Velvet, Affinity and Fingersmith, a number of historical novels, for instance the fictionalized biography of Henry James, viz. The Master by Colm Tóibín are seen as a sub-genre of historical fiction.

Neo-Victorian fiction is not just written by British authors, but also by American, Australian (or even non-English speaking authors?).

A quick look around on the Internet produced the following list of authors:

Writers such as Salley Vickers, Michel Faber, Valerie Martin, Michèle Roberts, Sarah Waters, A. N. Wilson, Joyce Carol Oates, John Harwood, Jem Poster, Charles Palliser, Iain Sinclair, Peter Ackroyd, Matthew Kneale and Clare Clark,A.S. Byatt, Peter Carey, Michael Cox, Jasper Fforde, Jean Rhys, Graham Swift, Julian Barnes, etc.

Mar 25, 2012, 6:35am

One of my favourite genres! The absolute peak, for me, has to be The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber but there are so many wonderful books in this genre (and a few clunkers too). Some of my other favourites would have to be The French Lieutenant's Woman, This Thing of Darkness, Remarkable Creatures, The Great Stink and the Sarah Waters books mentioned above. It's a fascinating period and not quite completely out of reach for many of us (my grandparents were Victorians). Interesting, too, to see some of the less well-known names in the OP's list - Jem Poster's Rifling Paradise and Michael Cox's The Meaning of Night are great books too. So looking forward to hearing from other enthusiasts!

Mar 25, 2012, 7:52am

I've just read Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James which features Elizabeth née Bennet and D'Arcy in a continuation of a Jane Austen novel. And have just started Emma Donoghue's The Sealed Letter which according to the blurb is partly based on an 1864 divorce case - although one I've not otherwise heard of.

Edited: Mar 27, 2012, 5:02pm

Great idea, Edwin and thanks. While I have books by many of these authors, I must confess to not being familiar with others. I am going away for two weeks, but will check back when I return (and will look for some of these authors while I am gone). I am hoping to find the latest A S Byatt, after finishing The Children's Book last year.

Jan 2, 2013, 12:53pm

Finished reading: 29 December 2012

Affinity, Sarah Waters' second novel is seriously flawed. In this novel of suspense, the author tells a story, and attempts to pull off a chute at the end of the novel. However, a successful chute is a a sudden realization on the part of the reader to see a hidden aspect of the story, which was cleverly concealed and create a sudden moment of epiphany or elation. This intended effect totally fails in Affinity, because the reader has not received sufficient information in the first 300+ pages, and the "surprise" is revealed by the author in the last part of the novel.

In fact, Part 5 of the novel can be read as a synopsis of the novel, preceded by 300 pages of distraction, full of inessential details. The first four parts of the novel are ultimately so meaningless, that many readers will lose interest after about 200 pages, wondering where the novel is going. The distraction in the first 300 pages is strengthened by the capricious, unpredictable and utterly meaningless jumping forward and backward in time, over a period of about three years.

Readers who skip the first 318 pages, and only read Part 5, will miss very little. Part 5 would read very well as a shortish short story of barely 30 pages.

Other books I have read by Sarah Waters: