Join with me and plunge into the literary world of the Long Nineteenth Century, c.1789 – 1914.
Frequently asked questions: (FAQs? Sadly, I’ve never been asked any of these questions!)
What is The Long Nineteenth Century? The Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm popularised the notion of a Long Nineteenth Century, 1789 to 1914 – taking us from the French Revolution to the Great War. It is now a recognised category of literary history, though some prefer different dates.
Why did you choose The Long Nineteenth Century? Two periods of political and military tumult that sandwich a period of radical change in multiple areas – inc. economics, transport, print technology, culture, aesthetics, politics, sexual freedom. I have selected this exciting period because of the wealth of wonderful literature it produced.
My background isn’t in English literature, but rather in history. So when I read Long Victorian era novels I get particular enjoyment from the economic, social and political background of the period. Not that I claim expertise in any area.
Why are there photographs and paintings on the blog? Many people are reluctant to read Victorian literature because they think that ‘the past is a foreign country’. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. I’m hoping to use accessible images, art and gentle humour to allow better appreciation of the history and culture of the times when the books were written. Perhaps I have not got the balance of text vs images right yet, but early days.
Why are you doing this blog? I started it to keep track of my own reading from this era and put down some of my thoughts as I read. Also, I would like to encourage interest in the writing of the period. In some ways this site might end up being a love letter to literature of the Long Nineteenth Century. True, plenty of bad books were published during this time, but I won’t be writing about them.
“The good books that people write live after them; the bad are oft interred with their bones.”
– To badly misquote and invert Shakespeare. I suspect that whatever my early plans for the blog, it will grow into a different beast over time.
Give us an indication of your favourite reads? The greatest book that I’ve ever read is Middlemarch by George Eliot, my head was reeling with the power of the author when I had finished it; I didn’t know it was possible for a writer to have that much control over the world they had created. It seemed Eliot could do anything, and she even questioned her use of that power during the book! My favourite thumping good read is The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. I read the last page, made a mug of tea, and started it again. I didn’t want the spell to end. Often think about it. Probably the most important book that I’ve ever read is The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. There are many “home truths” about each of us and the human condition to be found in that astonishing read. A set text in his home country – I urge you to try it. A story told with an extremely dry sense of humour, which appeals to me.
Do you accept books from publishers for review? In theory, yes. But I’m scandalously behind at present. There are 6 books sitting on a small side table waiting to be reviewed – I feel guilty every time I walk past. For those who have sent me books, many apologies – they WILL be done.
My rules are that I only accept books for review in hardcopy or audiobook form. Never e-books (my eyes can’t take any more screen time). I will only review something that I think looks interesting. Any review will be the usual honest appraisal. To find my reviews click ‘Book reviews’ on the top menu (above).
Do you place adverts on this blog? I have never put ads on the site. However, I use the free version of the software and therefore WordPress.com are entitled to insert ads whenever they like (and take any money they make from it). The only way for me to keep this site completely ad-free would be for me to pay for the premium version of WordPress – and I have no plans to do that, at present.
Can I reblog your posts? Yes, I have an open policy on reblogging. I only ask that you link back to The Long Victorian and give proper credit.
What is your background? Are you an academic? No, I am not an academic. I was in the book trade, then a Chartered Librarian. Mostly I’m just an interested reader.
[Last updated: 16 January 2018]