The afterlife of the Victorian marriage plot in neo-Victorian fiction

Vorndran, Truchen (2019-04)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The neo-Victorian novel is known for exposing the hidden sex lives of what Steven Marcus in The Other Victorians: A Study of Sexuality and Pornography in Mid-Nineteenth-Century England (1964) and, following him, Michel Foucault in The History of Sexuality (1984) describe as the “Other Victorians”, those marginal and sexually transgressive figures who now populate its pages. However, this has led to the neo-Victorian novel being criticised for its reconstruction of nineteenth-century history into a sexually explicit narrative for the enjoyment of a contemporary audience, or what Marie-Luise Kohkle in “The Neo-Victorian Sexsation: Literary Excursions into the Nineteenth-Century Erotic” refers to as “sexsation” (345). Neo-Victorian novels critically engage with the Victorian past and its narratives by employing either an historical, or partly historical setting. A number of recent novels which are not historical in their setting similarly respond to or engage with a particular Victorian novel or Victorian morals and values either explicitly or implicitly in this highly self-conscious, revisionary fashion. Examples of such novels are Here on Earth (1997) by Alice Hoffman, On Chesil Beach (2007) by Ian McEwan and Re Jane (2015) by Patricia Park. In this thesis, I undertake to read these novels as representative of a separate category of neo-Victorian fiction by focussing on the “afterlife” of the Victorian marriage plot in them, a term I take from John Kucich and Dianne F. Sadoff’s Victorian Afterlife: Postmodern Culture Rewrites the Nineteenth Century.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Neo-Victoriaanse literatuur is bekend daarvoor om die verborge sekslewe van diegene wie Steven Marcus in The Other Victorians: A Study of Sexuality and Pornography in Mid-Nineteenth-Century England (1964) en, na hom, Michel Foucault in The History of Sexuality (1984) verwys na as “ander” Victoriane, daardie marginaliseerde en seksueel grensoorskynde figure nou volop in neo-Victoriaanse skryfkuns. Dit het egter daartoe gelei dat neo-Victoriaanse literatuur gekritiseer word vir die rekonstruksie van ‘n seksueel eksplisiete weergawe van negentiende-eeuse geskiendenis vir die genot van ‘n kontemporere gehoor, ‘n tendens wat Marie-Luise Kohkle in “The Neo-Victorian Sexsation: Literary Excursions into the Nineteenth-Century Erotic” verwys na as “sexsation” (345). Neo-Victoriaanse literatuur tree krities in gesprek met die Victoriaanse tydperk deur gebruik te maak van ‘n historiese of gedeeltelik-historiese agtergrond. Daar is wel ‘n aantal boeke onlangs gepubliseer wat nie histories van aard is nie maar steeds self-refleksief reageer op, of in gesprek tree met, ‘n spesiefieke Victoraanse boek of Victoriaanse ideologie, in ‘n eksplisiete of implisiete wyse. Voorbeelde van sulke literatuur is Here on Earth (1997) deur Alice Hoffman, On Chesil Beach (2007) deur Ian McEwan en Re Jane (2015) deur Patricia Park. In hierdie tesis onderneem ek om hierdie boeke te lees as verteenwoordigend van ‘n aparte kategorie neo-Victoraainse fiksie deur te fokus op die “hiernamaals” van die Victoriaanse troutema, ‘n uitrukking wat ek neem uit John Kucich en Dianne F. Sadoff se Victorian Afterlife: Postmodern Culture Rewrites the Nineteenth Century.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/106107
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