Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 28 March 2020

Abstract and Keywords

During the Victorian period it was widely held that the literary and the political were separate and distinct spheres, a view which did not, however, prevent many writers from using works of literature to address explicitly political issues. This chapter explores the reasons behind this apparent paradox, one which helps explain why modern accounts of the politics of Victorian literary works, notably the realist novel, are often quite different from the claims made for them by the Victorians themselves. The chapter focuses on describing Victorian literary taste, and the ways it was shaped by concerns about a growing commercialization and democratization of literary culture. More precisely, it shows how anxieties about the development of popular literary forms on the one hand and, later in the century, of avant-garde movements on the other, led to an increased politicization of the literary, as various elites competed with each other to control definitions of literariness.

Keywords: literary taste, popular literature, avant-garde literature, commercialization, democratization, cultural elitism

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.