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9-15 lecture Grahame - Turn of the century Victorian...

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Turn of the century: Victorian Edwardian While images of the city moved toward complexity, mysteriousness, threat, unreadability, the country, at the turn of the century, perceived ever-more-metaphorically by the literary classes • cultural importance of rural ideas grew as relative importance of rural economy shrank • not the site of the actual people Hardy had tried to picture (although some examples of rural memoir stressed this) • rather, the educated city person’s version of “country”: --idyllic childhood landscape --escape from bourgeois responsibility --ties to folklore --“Deep England”; national identity, sacred space Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat (1889: travel/humor) Rudyard Kipling, Puck of Pook’s Hill (1906: historical fantasy) Key literary thread of country-based fantasy • Often folktale and legend, with bits of classical reference, overwrote real existing country life. • Ties to childhood (back to Carroll; Barrie; forward to AA Milne, and further, to JRR Tolkien) Cult of childhood: • new 19 th century notion of childhood as special state • childhood as spiritual condition (Romantic-era idea --sentimentalized, popularized in Victorian period (cf Dickens) • writing for children began in Victorian period (in keeping with idea that they are different, that childhood imaginative vision is special and privileged and needs to be preserved)
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