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Is Eminent Victorians a fictional work? AND, if not, which essay in the book is LEAST...

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carleya26 | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted December 14, 2011 at 11:31 AM via web

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Is Eminent Victorians a fictional work? AND, if not, which essay in the book is LEAST accurate?

I feel like this book cannot be categorized as fiction, as there are many factual pieces of evidence in it. However, Strachey over dramatizes and exaggerates so many things - even making some of them up - that I cannot be sure.

Also, I have NO idea which essay could be least accurate, as they all have unsupported claims in them.

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 23, 2012 at 6:00 AM (Answer #1)

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Lytton Strachey’s Eminent Victorians is both a new and modern form of biography, rebelling against the standards of his period, and a return to the moral emphasis and form of Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans. Although the book is technically a work of non-fiction, like that of Plutarch, the point is not so much a recitation of historical facts as moral analysis of the characters of important people. Unlike the relatively genial Plutarch, Strachey sees himself at odds with the important Victorians and is intent on showing that they have feet of clay; this negativity somewhat distorts not his factual claims but his slant. For example, recent scholarly work on Manning suggests that Manning was, in fact, deeply concerned about poverty and the plight if the Irish, and Newman, by contrast, who Strachey uses as a positive foil to the negative Manning, somewhat less admirable and more self-centred than portrayed by Strachey.

As all have a balance of factual accuracy and distorted viewpoint, I am not sure one can settle on a “least accurate”; the Gordon portrait is probably the least distorted, and the Manning and Nightingale ones the most vitriolic.

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