Manliness and the Male Novelist in Victorian Literature
The purpose of this book is to address two principal questions: 'Was the concept of masculinity a topic of debate for the Victorians?' and 'Why is Victorian literature full of images of male deviance when Victorian masculinity is defined by discipline?'
In his introduction, Dowling defines Victorian masculinity in terms of discipline. He then addresses the central question of why an official ideal of manly discipline in the nineteenth century co-existed with a literature that is full of images of male deviance. In answering this question, he develops a notion of 'hegemonic deviance', whereby a dominant ideal of masculinity defines itself by what it is not. Dowling goes on to examine the fear of effeminacy facing Victorian literary men and the strategies used to combat these fears by the nineteenth-century male novelist. In later chapters, concentrating on Dickens and Thackeray, he examines how the male novelist is defined against multiple images of unmanliness. These chapters illustrate the investment made by men in constructing male 'others', those sources of difference that are constantly produced and then crushed from within gender divide.
By analysing how Victorian literary texts both reveal and reconcile historical anxieties about the meaning of manliness, Dowling argues that masculinity is a complex construction rather than a natural given.
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Agnes Amy's Anthony Trollope anxieties about manliness Biffen bohemian Carlyle chapter character claims codes of manly construction critics culture dandy David Copperfield defined described desire Dickens Dickens's David Copperfield discourse dominant effeminacy emotion emphasises energy English essay example fears female feminine feminism feminist figure Forster gender genius George Gissing Gissing's Grub Street hegemonic deviance hegemonic masculinity hero heterosexuality homophobia homosocial ideals of manliness illustrates intellectual James Eli Adams Jasper John John Yule Letters literary masculinity London male deviance manhood manliness Marian men's movement metaphor Middlemarch Murdstone myth narrator never nineteenth century novel observed Pen's Pendennis Q. D. Leavis queer theory Reardon representation reveals Romantic artist Sedgwick sexual social society speech Steerforth studies of masculinity suggests Sussman Thackeray Thackeray's Pendennis Trollope's Autobiography unmanliness Uriah Uriah Heep Victorian literature Victorian male novelist Victorian masculinity Victorian period Warrington woman women working-class writing