The Victorian Vision: Studies in the Religious Novel

By Margaret M. Maison | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION

THUS the reign of Queen Victoria drew to its close, with Christianity being aestheticized, extroverted and even "electrified", and Marie Corelli and Mrs. Humphry Ward in undisputed sway as rulers of the religious novel, both commanding an enormous reading public and sales beyond the dreams of earlier novelists. ( Marie Corelli The Sorrows of Satan ( 1895) had an initial sale greater than that of any previous English novel.) Gresley and Paget, the fathers of Victorian theological fiction, would have been extremely shocked at the thought of such staggering influence allied to such staggering doctrines, for Miss Corelli's eccentric revellings in supernatural fantasy and Mrs. Ward's earnest efforts on the other side to cope with "the crumbling of the Christian mythology" testify alike to the dissolution of traditional belief. The nemesis of a faith had at last received its popular recognition and acclamation, and the religious novel, the most influential ethical teacher of the time, fed the hungry sheep of late Victorian England with spiritual fare that differed considerably from the popular brands of nourishment offered fifty years earlier. Septuagenarian Oxford Movement novelists deplored the "shallow creeds which

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The Victorian Vision: Studies in the Religious Novel
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction *
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Orthodox Faith 9
  • 1: the Church of England 11
  • 2: the Catholic Church 138
  • 3: the Free Churches 183
  • 2 - Lost Faith 207
  • 3 - Towards Unorthodox Faith 285
  • Conclusion 339
  • Bibliography 345
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