Read Victorian People and Ideas by Richard D. Altick Online


The reputation of the Victorian age in England has undergone many vicissitudes, but it is now higher than ever. In this important study, Richard D. Altick moves us toward an understanding of the social, intellectual, and theological crises that Carlyle and Dickens, Tennyson and Arnold were daily struggling to solve. And the issues were many: the revolution in class structuThe reputation of the Victorian age in England has undergone many vicissitudes, but it is now higher than ever. In this important study, Richard D. Altick moves us toward an understanding of the social, intellectual, and theological crises that Carlyle and Dickens, Tennyson and Arnold were daily struggling to solve. And the issues were many: the revolution in class structure and class attitudes; the rise of utilitarianism and the evangelical spirit; the crisis in religion, including the Oxford movement and Darwinism; the democratization of culture; the place of art and the artist in an industrial, bourgeois society; the effects of industrialism, especially on the way people live. Altick brings to the discussion of these complicated questions the lively and sensitive intelligence that his many readers have come to expect. He includes contemporary illustrations and a full reference index....

Title : Victorian People and Ideas
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780393093766
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 338 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Victorian People and Ideas Reviews

  • ·Karen·
    2018-10-22 02:59

    Why can't more professors write like this? I suppose some of them do when in 'popular' as opposed to 'academic' mode. Clear, elegant, gently ironic, matter-of-fact, well-structured. Prof. Altick had all the virtues, including the 'sterling Victorian virtue of utility'. An invaluable little tome that brings together all the information needed to enrich a reading of Dickens, Eliot, Tennyson and Trollope. Some of what we learn along the way will be known to anyone who has read their Dickens or Mrs Gaskell with a smidgeon of attention; the way that society was structured or the impact of industrialisation and the railways, for example. A reveal for me was how little I knew about the different religious currents: Tractarians, Latitudinarians, Evangelicals, Dissenters, probably because I've never read much Trollope. Since Altick virtually invented single handed the academic study of the history of books and publishing, that section is particularly strong, and I greatly appreciated his broad stroke portrayal of political attitudes that avoided going into detailed party politics. The final chapter shows how the Victorians were commandeered by the next generation as scapegoats, blamed for shortsightedness and complacency that led directly to WW1. A re-examination and re-assessment began around the end of WW2. Throughout, Altick emphasises the contrasts and paradoxes inherent in an age of such radical and swift change: the Victorians were slaves to conformity and rugged individualists, sentimental philanthropists and hard-boiled proponents of free enterprise, traditonalists and iconoclasts. Studying these diverse and divergent ideas must be good for your health though: Professor Altick reached the grand age of 92 on it.

  • William
    2018-10-09 19:15

    I never would have picked this up if I hadn't been researching the Victorian era for my WIP novel. That drab cover color hearkens to a time (the '70's) when books didn't need to look explode-in-your-face sexy. How glad am I, however, that I found this gem.What you basically have here is a history of the social, political, and economic currents of the time with an emphasis on the visionary individuals responsible for its art and science. I do it a disservice with such a plain description, however. Altick draws these elements together into a stew that has fundamentally altered my perception of modern society and the factors that brought into being the world I face everyday. All this and the author never veers outside the coast of the British Isles!I came for the content, but I stayed for the voice. Altick is a scholar, and I expected the sterile tone that many scholars attempt to evince when writing an academic work. Altick throws in a healthy dose of optimism and then counterbalances it with equal doses of wit and snark. This keeps the reader cognizant that the book, as all history books are, is a dialogue between the period under study and the period from which the study is conducted. But beyond such stuffy observations, Altick's exposition is just plain fun to read. He'll send you to your (online) dictionary. Sinecure anyone? But his diction is so good that words seem custom-created to fit his usage, and he, himself, almost becomes a character with which to converse.If you have any interest in the Victorians or even with Western Civ's struggle over modernity- I recommend this highly.

  • Lauren Albert
    2018-09-26 02:01

    This is a wonderful overview of the era which addresses stereotypes without perpetuating them. While it is aimed at readers of Victorian literature, it can be read with pleasure by those who are not.

  • max
    2018-10-22 00:59

    An outstanding book, published in 1973 -- well before English professors lost their minds and started writing books in pretentious, fraudulent and often incomprehensible language. I just discovered this chestnut hidden away on a bookshelf of my in-laws and devoured it immediately. It is an indispensable guide to the Victorian Age, the sine qua non for any serious appreciation of the major social, political, religious, economic and cultural issues of this fascinating period. This work is subtitled "A Companion for the modern reader of Victorian Literature." Would that I had owned a copy as an undergraduate! If you are at all interested in Victorian literature, that illustrious constellation of authors that includes Thackeray, Carlyle, the Brontes, Eliot, Dickens, Tennyson, Browning, Trollope, Hardy, Pater, Meredith, Newman, Darwin and others too numerous to list here, this work provides invaluable information that will deepen your understanding of many of the issues that are central to their works. It is written in a straightforward style that approaches that of a legal brief -- clear, cogent, always on point.The values, beliefs, and complex issues that defined the Victorian Age are worthy of much closer study. This era was in many ways the hinge between the Romantic and the modern period in which we live today. I highly recommend this book for anyone with an interest in the literature of this period.

  • Mel
    2018-09-26 23:56

    Victorian People and Ideas by Richard D. Altick was written in 1973 as "a companion for the modern reader of Victorian literature". But he manages to present a nice introductory, though a little limited, look at Victorian times. He focuses on the Early and Middle Victorian Era, stating how later Victorian from the 1880's is considered by most historians to be much closer in philosophy and ideals to the Edwardian age than being truly Victorian. As an interesting aside most of Sweet's arguments about how Victorians were different than their perceived image came from this later time period. But the book brought about a lot of half forgotten ideas from A-levels of Robert Peel, the Liberal Tories, the repeal of the Corn Laws, chartism, reform acts and suddenly I remembered a lot more about the early Victorians.The book starts with a look at where the Victorians came from with a brief description of Regency era, and the Romantic movement. Altick then looks in great detail at the different levels of Victorian society. One point he makes very clear was that it was important to know your position in society, even the labouring classes had very strict social stratas and it was important to know exactly who was above you and who was below you and act accordingly.The book balanced well between looking at rural life and looking at urban life, the plights of the farmers, who thanks to the enclosure system lost nearly all nutrition from their diet and made very little money, contrasted with people living in slums, working in factories and mines. The Victorians inherited the controversial Poor Law of 1834 which set up workhouses for the poor who could not provide for themselves any other way. These got nicknamed the "poor law Bastille". While the numbers of people who were actually sent to live in the workhouse was small it remained a very real threat to the millions living in poverty or on government subsidies.While staying away from the more "dazzling" aspect of Sweet's book Altick gave a more rounded view of Victorian society, how it changed over time, what it's beliefs where, where they came from and how they were changed by progress and technology. In the Victorian era they invented Steam Locomotives, gas lighting, electric telegraphs, chloroform, not to mention many machines to help with production in the factories. The book focused a lot on the rise of the middle class. From the start where they still weren't eligible to vote and had little to no schooling to being voters with education and book markets specifically devoted to them. They were largely responsible for the Evangelicalism that started the Victorian standards of morality. They promoted the idea of respectability the chief Victorian virtue which Altick defined as, "sobriety, thrift, cleanliness of person tidiness of house, good manners, respect for the law, honest in business affairs, chastity and seriousness". However in contrast 1875 was the year of highest consumption of alcohol in England's history with 1.3 gallons of spirits and 34.4 gallons of beer being consumed per capita.The book also gives a nice introduction to the economic ideas of Laissez Faire capitalism, utilitarianism, Benethamites, and other fashionable philosophies of the time. The examines the impact of religion, and science on religion and on the changing views on art. The conclusion acknowledges the bad reputation the Victorians got from the predecessors however unlike Sweet he gives a great reason for it, the war to end all wars.It was the Victorian's bungling the art of geopolitics and their monumental stupidity, complacency, and short sightedness which had condemned Britain to an exhausting conflict, as grossly mismanaged on the home front and in the theaters of warThe conclusion states how you can use the evidence of Victorian society to describe almost anything about them from the most outrageous to the most stuffy. This book tries to find some middle ground, and one that relates directly to the ideas put forth in the literature of the time, and gives some great quotes and recommendations for further reading. Well not as dramatic as Sweet's book. I definitely feel like I know and remember a lot more than when I started it. Now I feel ready to delve into some Asa Briggs, who I remember being my favorite historian of the time, way back when I was doing A-levels.

  • Kelly
    2018-10-08 20:23

    As "A companion for the modern reader of Victorian Literature," written by a Professor of English it does shed much light on the era, but it is also written exactly as you'd expect a literary "companion" to be. The jacket states "In this important new study, [Altick] moves us toward an understanding of the social intellectual, and theological crises that Carlyle and Dickens, Tennyson and Arnold were daily struggling to solve." If it is not necessary to be quite so immersed in the era, there is some great information to be mined by skimming through chapters for relevant points; but determining exactly which chapter will address the precise issue you're interested in might be a bit of a challenge. "The Middle Class Ethos" and "Respectability and Other Virtues" are tucked into a chapter on The Evangelical Temper. Some really excellent discussion of the changes to society brought on by steamships and electric telegraphs is tucked away under the heading "The New Sense of Time" in a chapter on The Spirit of the Age (and, after all, isn't what the entire book is addressing?) If you do the work to mine for the gold, it is there; but if your aim is targeted research, expect to do the work.

  • Candy Wood
    2018-09-28 00:13

    Another book I first read many years ago. Writing more than twenty years after Jerome Buckley’s Victorian Temper, Altick does provide for the needs of readers not already thoroughly informed about Victorian England. The various –isms of the era, social, political, religious, scientific, get clear explanations, with dates and connections to literature. Endnotes are minimal, but an appendix lists “other books to read,” and there’s a useful chronology of major events and works 1802-1901. In the last chapter, Altick notes that while the reputation of the Victorians will continue to shift as scholars keep exploring the masses of material they left behind, we can still admire their efforts: whatever their failures, “they did their human best, in their various ways and according to their various lights, to bequeath us a stabler, happier world.” The whole book is a very readable reminder of that.

  • Tim
    2018-10-04 03:03

    This was a very helpful survey of the social, political, religious and intellectual developments of the Victorian period. Without going into a lot of detail, Altick gives us a comprehensive picture of the context within which Victorian literature was written. He illustrates his discussion with references to various Victorian novels and essays; he also includes sixteen pages of well-chosen plates. Highly recommended.

  • Chase Cross
    2018-10-02 00:22

    A brilliant, concise, readable survey of the predominant currents of Victorian thought and life. The anecdotes are vivid, aptly chosen. The history itself perfectly balances brevity with depth, achieving an accessibility that makes this a breezy read. I think I've read this book three or four times... Really, a winning example of what introductory texts ought to be,

  • Michelle
    2018-10-01 23:16

    Definitely helpful if you are doing any kind of Victorian reading and want an insight to all the changes and anxieties of the times. Not necessarily the most exciting thing to read, but certainly enlightening.

  • writer...
    2018-09-23 21:12

    delited to find this on a charity shop shelf ~ now added to my own shelves alongside the jane austens! excellent resource filled with insights and foundations.

  • Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
    2018-09-23 03:17


  • Jay Scully
    2018-10-03 23:15

    Very complicated view ...

  • Lady Dixie
    2018-10-16 02:59

    If you're interested in the Victorian era at all, this is an ideal place to start. It's very readable.

  • Lee
    2018-09-25 20:04

    Interesting and dry as a martini. You've gotta be interested to like it.

  • Meltha
    2018-10-03 21:04

    Crucial for any understanding of the Victorian period. Period.