The Victorian Serial (Victorian Literature and Culture Series)

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9780813913148: The Victorian Serial (Victorian Literature and Culture Series)
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Linda K.Hughes and Michael Lund offer a new approach to the study of installment literature by showing how it embodied a view of life intrinsic to Victorian culture. They examine how the serial format (a continuing story over an extended time with enforced interruptions) affected the ways Victorian audiences interpreted 16 major works of poetry and fiction. Their findings, based on actual accounts of Victorian readers, show that Victorian interpretations were different from those of 20th-century single-volume readings. These differences suggest that for the Victorians the publishing format became an essential factor in creating meaning and that effects of this publishing format have been neglected in the 20th-century. The author is point out that many factors contributed to Victorians' love affair with the serial - their notion of a life span as expansive, rich and full; their capitalistic view of continuing growth and progress; their capacious sense of time; their historicism; and their uniformitarian ethos. In addition, Victorian literature, because of its serial structure, was much more integral to the context of everyday life. Because of the serial format it was not possible to enter into an imaginary world and remain there until the story's end, and readers went back and forth from story to life regularly. In the space between readings, readers were barraged with new information and new experience that they brought with them when they returned to the imagined world of the literary work. Thus, the relationship between life and literature was more dynamic and intense. Hughes and Lund conclude that in order to understand Victorian literature, we must understand serialization, since it was the vehicle for the best literature of the age. Further, they assert we must understand serialization as a literary form attuned to the fundamental spirit of the age.

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