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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 23 March 2010
I was firstly surprised to find this was almost novel-like in size - most unusual for this type of book, but actually means it's easy to carry around/read on the train etc! Nervertheless there are reproductions of the paintings dotted throughout so it's not all text. It's clear Paxman is really enthused by his subject, which is always important when approaching topics of this kind - the Victorians are so frequently written about, but this provides an enjoyable and unique angle. Definitely deserves to be widely read - shows that history can be understood not simply as a lists of dates and events, but by appreciating the works of the people of the age in the form of paintings (or indeed, works of literature) and how they felt about, and portrayed, the age in which they lived.
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on 12 April 2009
Jeremy Paxman's The Victorians is stuffed with famous and obscure paintings,all documented by title,artist and gallery,below the work,making the book incredibly easy to read. No flicking around to see the subject! The written work is learned but fast-flowing,revealing Paxman's knowledge and liking for Victorian Art,pithy rather than maudling. His research is nationwide,with works often pulled from the industrial cities, whose wealth reflected the surges in Victorian life.
A well documented passion, from an "unlikely" source,
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on 23 January 2013
I stumbled across this in a library while teaching Victorian poetry. I'm no historian or art critic, and had been developing my knowledge of this period. Great supplement to the ideas and concerns of poets like Christina Rossetti. Beautiful images of a wide range of paintings including pre-Raphaelites and John Martin - both of which I love and interesting narrative..

Beware, the paperback is a much smaller size: I bought it thinking I could save money and had to send it back - the images were far too small and you would need to break the spine to see them properly. If the price is an issue buy the hardback second hand. The hard back is twice the size o the paperback and bound nicely. Each page has one or more large image - some go across two pages. The book is presented as a series of discussions or comments on Victorian England as presented through the art of the day.

Chapter headings include: The Mob in the Picture Galley (images of contemporary society); Thy Long Days Work (art as a documentary of living conditions); The Angel in the House- (the representation of women in Victorian art); A World of Wealth and Power- (social class); A Land of dreams- (myth, fantasy, the imagination).
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on 22 April 2009
Having attended Mr Paxman's book launch at Ely Cathedral recently I am now a confirmed fan. Mr Paxman knows his subject inside out and his passion was evident from the start. An excellent accompaniment to the TV series, "The Victorians" is an entertaining and informative work.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 May 2014
In this book Jeremy Paxman explains Victorian art through vignettes of history. Around half of the book is devoted to reproductions of paintings,and to a handful of photographs. The narrative explains the context for each illustration and the symbolism used in some of them.

The book is beautifully presented using high quality paper and is more about art than history - Victorian art is not to the taste of everyone, and there are better books of Victorian history than this if you are trying to gain a better understanding of the period.

Enjoyable enough reading though
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on 26 August 2014
I watched the original TV series a few years ago and was disappointed when I couldn't find the DVD for sale. I decided to buy the book instead and thoroughly enjoyed it. Paxman has a very natural way of writing and you know this is taken from a TV programme. I love the way he asks questions and challenges a very rosey version of history the Victorians tried to create (and sadly many still try and continue). I would advise all those who hark back to a 'Christian England' to read this. PS: I am a Christian but hate it when people criticize modern times by claiming how wonderful life once was. Hmmm... no it wasn't.
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on 3 August 2015
Hard to rate this as I've been enjoying reading it but I have to say I wish I had the book rather than the Kindle edition. Given he discusses Victorian art it's very difficult to know what on earth he's talking about without seeing the art in question so I've had to have my smartphone with me to google all the pictures.
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on 10 March 2009
Having watched and really enjoyed the recent series the accompanying book was a 'must buy'. Now I have the book I have to say I am very disappointed at the picture quality; colour rendition is very poor, basic home printer standard with hues either thin or garish. Reproduction quality aside, the text and painting choices echo the programmes and with Paxman's informative and readable commentary, at times wry and at times quite sensitive, the book is still recommended and if wasn't for the printing this would have been a five star recommendation, it's just a shame about the production quality.
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on 27 August 2009
I'd have to start by saying that the book is not as good as the TV series: Paxman's on screen presentation of the subject matter has more of an edge and excitement to it that the book fails to transfer. This shortfall is not so much from the text, but from the reproduction of the pictures themselves.

As an introduction to the art of the period, its reasonably comprehensive,but Paxman's social narrative and wit win the day.

Recommended, despite its limitations
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on 22 March 2009
An excellent book to accompany a very polished and informative series. We were so pleased to be able to linger longer over the fascinating pictures brought to us by the programmes.
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