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‘[A] common and not a divided interest’: Literature and the Labour of Representation

  • Jan-Melissa Schramm
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture book series (PNWC)

Abstract

Memories of the French Revolution cast a long shadow over British efforts to imagine a newly inclusive constitution in the course of the nineteenth century. Writers including William Godwin, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Elizabeth Gaskell perfected a distinctive sub-genre of the novel, which was profoundly attentive to the ethics of representation. The literary ‘labour’ of reform in the nineteenth century was imaginative, conceptual, and discursive, but it was not understood solely in metaphorical terms as a work without physical cost: instead, its impact was registered in the language of bodily exertion, privation, and daily acts of self-sacrifice. Novelists pondered the impact of their narrative experiments on the mood of the nation, whilst acutely aware of the ways in which their expanding readership could be mapped onto the ideal contours of the political franchise.

Keywords

Autobiography Charles Dickens Chartism Christianity Edmund Burke George Eliot Jean-Jacques Rousseau Revolution William Godwin 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan-Melissa Schramm
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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