The Novelty of Newspapers: Victorian Fiction after the Invention of the News

The Novelty of Newspapers: Victorian Fiction after the Invention of the News

The Novelty of Newspapers: Victorian Fiction after the Invention of the News

The Novelty of Newspapers: Victorian Fiction after the Invention of the News

Synopsis

Rapid industrialization and new advances in technology marked the Victorian period as one of prodigious socio-cultural change. Chief among the many transformations of quotidian life was the swift and widespread dissemination of information made possible by the emergence of the daily newspaper, an unprecedented new media. The changes it wrought in politics, history, and advertising of the age have all been well-documented. But its influence on one area remains overlooked: the Victorian novel. Redressing this oversight, The Novelty of Newspapers highlights the variety of ways the changing world of nineteenth-century journalism shaped the period's most popular literary form. Arising in the 1800s and soon drawing a million readers a day, the commercial press profoundly influenced the work of Bronte, Braddon, Dickens, Conrad, James, Trollope, and others who mined print journalism for fictional techniques. Five of the most important of these narrative conventions-the shipping intelligence, personal advertisement, leading article, interview, and foreign correspondence-show how the Victorian novel is best understood alongside the simultaneous development of newspapers. In highly original analyses of Victorian fiction, this study also captures the surprising ways in which public media enabled the expression of private feeling among ordinary readers: from the trauma caused by a lover's reported suicide to the vicarious gratification felt during a celebrity interview; from the distress at finding one's behavior the subject of unflattering editorial commentary to the apprehension of distant cultures through the foreign correspondence. Combining a wealth of historical research with a series of astute close readings, The Novelty of Newspapers breaks down the assumed divide between the epoch's literature and journalism and demonstrates that newsprint was integral to the development of the novel.
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