In Lady Audley's Shadow: Mary Elizabeth Braddon and Victorian Literary Genres

In Lady Audley's Shadow: Mary Elizabeth Braddon and Victorian Literary Genres

In Lady Audley's Shadow: Mary Elizabeth Braddon and Victorian Literary Genres

In Lady Audley's Shadow: Mary Elizabeth Braddon and Victorian Literary Genres

Synopsis

Written by Mary Elizabeth Braddon in 1862, Lady Audley's Secret is an early pulp detective novel that proved wildly successfuly (and highly condemned) in its day. Even more remarkable, the book has never gone out of print. Reclaiming the significance and widespread influence of this overlooked text, Saverio Tomaiuolo connects the novel to Victorian literature's three main genres: the Gothic, the detective, and the realistic.

Through an analysis of narrative, ideology, and culture, he shows that Braddon's manipulation of Victorian literary convention sets her apart from other sensational writers and reaffirms her role in the nineteenth-century literary scene. In building his argument, Tamaiuolo also critically reads Braddon's The Trail of the Serpent, Eleanor's Victory, John Marchmont's Legacy, Henry Dunbar, The Doctor's Wife (an ambitious rewriting of Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary, The Lady's Mile, "Good Lady Ducayne", Phantom Fortune, Rough Justice, and His Darling Sin.

Excerpt

‘Victorian’ is a term at once indicative of a strongly determined concept and, simultaneously, an often notoriously vague notion, emptied of all meaningful content by the many journalistic misconceptions that persist about the inhabitants and cultures of the British Isles and Victoria’s Empire in the nineteenth century. As such, it has become a by-word for the assumption of various, often contradictory habits of thought, belief, behaviour and perceptions. Victorian studies and studies in nineteenth-century literature and culture have, from their institutional inception questioned narrowness of presumption, pushed at the limits of the nominal definition, and have sought to question the very grounds on which the unreflective perception of the so-called Victorian has been built; and so they continue to do. Victorian and nineteenth-century studies of literature and culture maintain a breadth and diversity of interest, of focus and inquiry, in an interrogative and intellectually openminded and challenging manner, which are equal to the exploration and inquisitiveness of their subjects. Many of the questions asked by scholars and researchers of the innumerable productions of nineteenth-century society actively put into suspension the clichés and stereotypes of ‘Victorianism’, whether the approach has been sustained by historical, scientific, philosophical, empirical, ideological or theoretical concerns; indeed, it would be incorrect to assume that each of these approaches to the idea of the Victorian has been, or has remained, in the main exclusive, sealed off from the interests and engagements of other approaches. A vital interdisciplinarity has been pursued and embraced, for the most part, even as there has been contest and debate amongst Victorianists, pursued with as much fervour as the affirmative exploration between different disciplines and differing epistemologies put to work in the service of reading the nineteenth century.

Edinburgh Critical Studies in Victorian Culture aims to take up both the debates and the inventive approaches and departures from . . .

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