Join 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 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? 1789 – 1914. Two periods of political and military tumult that sandwich a period of radical change in multiple areas – inc. economics, transport, print technology, society, culture, aesthetics, politics etc. I have selected this exciting period because of the wealth of wonderful literature it produced.
My background isn’t in English literature, but 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 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. It’s true that 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 Shakespeare.
Why are you mostly positive about the books you review? I read many more books than I review, but only the ones I enjoy (and want to talk about) get on the blog. If I’ve spent time reading a dull book, it’s hardly worth more time writing about it. So ‘Whatever comes, I’ll take the good – and send the rest to hell.’ [Ignaz Schnitzer]
Give us an indication of your favourite reads? Middlemarch by George Eliot had my head reeling from the author’s powers. Eliot even questioned her own use of that power during the book. I love the world she created. 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 it had cast over me to end. The Count of Monte Cristo [Review] comes a close second in that category, 1250+ pages and I wanted more. One of the most important books I’ve read is The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn [Review]. There are many “home truths” about each of us and the human condition to be found in that astonishing book. If you haven’t got the time to take it on, perhaps read his short novel, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.
Do you accept books from publishers for review? In theory, yes – but I’ve politely declined most.
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 – it would mean less money to spend on books!
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 (university sector). Mostly I’m just an interested reader.
[Last updated: 12 November 2021]