This fascinating account of the relationship between photography and literary realism in Victorian Britain draws on detailed readings of photographs, writings about photography, and fiction by Charles Dickens, George Eliot and Oscar Wilde. While other critics have argued that photography defined what would be 'real' for literary fiction, Daniel A. Novak demonstrates that photography itself was associated with the unreal - with fiction and the literary imagination. Once we acknowledge that manipulation was essential rather than incidental to the project of nineteenth-century realism, our understanding of the relationship between photography and fiction changes in important ways. Novak argues that while realism may seem to make claims to particularity and individuality, both in fiction and in photography, it relies much more on typicality than on perfect reproduction. Illustrated with many photographs, this book represents an important contribution to current debates on the nature of Victorian realism.
George Levine is one of the world's leading scholars of Victorian literature and culture. This collection of his essays develops the key themes of his work: the intersection of nineteenth-century British literature, culture and science and the relation of knowledge and truth to ethics. The essays offer perspectives on George Eliot, Thackeray, the Positivists, and the Scientific Naturalists, and reassess the complex relationship between Ruskin and Darwin. In readings of Lawrence and Coetzee, Levine addresses Victorian and modern efforts to push beyond the limits of realist art by testing its aesthetic and epistemological limits in engagement with the self and the other. Some of Levine's most important contributions to the field are reprinted, in revised and updated form, alongside previously unpublished material. Together, these essays cohere into an exploration both of Victorian literature and culture and of ethical, epistemological, and aesthetic problems fundamental to our own times.