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The Nineteenth-Century Novel: A Critical Reader
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 8 June 2010
When I found this book on Amazon I was surprised to find no reviews. I bought this book because I'm trying to decide whether to study 19th or 20th century literature with the Open University, and have bought both subsidiary books (the other is A Twentieth Century Literature Reader: Texts and Debates (Twentieth-Century Literature: Texts and Debates)). Having bought the book and made a good start on reading it, I realised why there aren't any reviews- this is simply a collection of 19th century essays, reviews and modern essays, presumably dissertations. You can't review what is different on so many pages.

Part 1: Early Essays and Reviews

This section of just 122 pages contains 18 essays and reviews. I don't recognise the authors of most of them, but Robert Louis Stevenson contributes 'A Humble Remonstrance', Thomas Hardy contributes 'The Science of Fiction' and no less than Sigmund Freud gives us 'The Interpretation of Dreams'. The subjects of some of these essays are obviously famous too, such as Hippolyte Taine's essay 'Charles Dickens: son talent et ses oevres' (in English). There are brief introductions giving detail of each of the authors, and explanations on why the essay or review has been printed here.

Part 2: Modern Criticism

This is 383 pages long and is broken into the 12 books it features, with 3 to 4 essays per book. These books are:

Jane Austen- Northanger Abbey
Charlotte Bronte- Jane Eyre
Charles Dickens- Dombey and Son
George Eliot- Middlemarch
Thomas Hardy- Far from the Maddening Crowd
Emile Zola- Germinal
Gustave Flaubert- Madame Bovary
Wilkie Collins- The Woman in White
Henry James- The Portrait of a Lady
Bram Stoker- Dracula
Kate Chopin- The Awakening
Joseph Conrad- Heart of Darkness

You may wish to note that these aren't all necessarily the set books for the OU AA216 course as right now (June 2010), Dracula isn't. Which is a shame because it's one I already read and enjoyed!

These modern essays are expectedly written quite differently. For example the Stephen D Arata essay 'The Occidental Tourist: Dracula and the Anxiety of Reverse Colonization' is written in a very 'readable' manner making it a pleasant and interesting read. However the Mary Poovey essay 'The Anathematized Race: The Governess and Jane Eyre' is densely written and requires a dictionary to read! The essay's are opinionated, as all good essays are, and use evidence to prove their points. In fact, I'd recommend this section of the book as a series of excellent examples of how to write a correct essay.

I haven't taken the course this collection was drawn together from, only read it as an interested literature reader, but I have found it enjoyable. Essays always fascinate me and it's great to read those which have been written over such an expanse of time. As this is a collection of essays it would suit a casual reader with a critical interest in literature as well as someone seriously studying it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 16 May 2011
This is an excellent book, produced for the Open university course on the nineteenth-century novel, that helps the reader analyse critically some of the great literature of the period. It is particularly useful for students of the cultural history of the nineteenth-century as well as a guide for those who take their reading seriously and want to develope a greater understanding of how these novels work contextually and add to an understanding of life and politics in what was a turbulent era. Not for the 'faint-hearted' but a great reference book to accompany serious reading.
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on 8 December 2014
We are ex 19th Century Novel students - (pre 2001) and had devoured every word of the previous Arnold Kettle reader.#
The latest version is a dream for any student or ex student of this course. WE LOVE IT.

100% recommended
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on 24 June 2015
Excellent. Use it in conjunction with Book Club choices
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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 29 July 2010
This book is for my OU course and although I have only read parts of it I am sure it is going to be essential for the course.
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