Tainted souls and painted faces : the rhetoric of fallenness in Victorian culture /
Amanda Anderson.
Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 1993.
x, 250 p. ; 24 cm.
0801481481 (paper) 0801427819 (cloth : alk. paper)
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Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 1993.
0801481481 (paper) 0801427819 (cloth : alk. paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. [235]-236) and index.
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Appeared in Choice on 1994-03:
As the subtitle suggests, Anderson's subject is not so much the prostitute in Victorian literature as it is the rhetoric the Victorians used to construct "fallenness." This condition, Anderson argues, is defined less by sexual transgression than by the inability to take deliberative moral action. The fallen woman is determined; she is doomed and powerless to avert her fate. Thus, she becomes a kind of cultural scapegoat, the outcast who allowed the (unfallen) Victorians to reassure themselves that they retained autonomy, the ability to act, reason, and control their destinies. Using this notion, Anderson analyzes novels by Dickens and Gaskell, as well as Rossetti's "Jenny" and Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Aurora Leigh. She handles the poems reasonably well, but the novels are perhaps so large that they elude her efforts to contain and describe them. Following her analyses, she appends a lengthy discussion of issues involving the determined and autonomous character types in the contemporary politics of poststructuralism. The entire work is fully documented with extensive notes and a lengthy bibliography. Graduate; faculty. J. L. Culross; Eastern Kentucky University
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Table of Contents
Introductionp. 1
Mid-Victorian Conceptions of Character, Agency, and Reform: Social Science and the "Great Social Evil"p. 22
"The Taint the Very Tale Conveyed": Self-Reading, Suspicion, and Fallenness in Dickensp. 66
Melodrama, Morbidity, and Unthinking Sympathy: Gaskell's Mary Barton and Ruthp. 108
Dramatic Monologue in Crisis: Agency and Exchange in D.G. Rossetti's "Jenny"p. 141
Reproduced in Finer Motions: Encountering the Fallen in Barrett Browning's Aurora Leighp. 167
Afterword: Intersubjectivity and the Politics of Poststructuralismp. 198
Works Citedp. 235
Indexp. 245
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