Victorian Autobiography Criticism: Overviews And General Studies - Essay

Linda H. Peterson (essay date 1986)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Peterson, Linda H. “Introduction: The Hermeneutic Imperative.” In Victorian Autobiography: The Tradition of Self-Interpretation, pp. 1-28. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1986.

[In the following excerpt, Peterson defines Victorian autobiography as principally a hermeneutic and interpretive, rather than a representative, genre and surveys its literary origins in the spiritual autobiographies of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.]

When John Ruskin traveled abroad for the first time without his parents, his mother slipped a copy of Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners into his satchel. “What made you put that funny book of John...

(The entire section is 8739 words.)

Martin A. Danahay (essay date 1993)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Danahay, Martin A. “Monologism and Power in Victorian Autobiography.” Victorians Institute Journal 21 (1993): 47-69.

[In the following essay, Danahay focuses on the tension between the monologic and dialogic (and likewise the unitary and social) qualities of language illustrated in the autobiographical works of John Stuart Mill, Edmund Gosse, and Matthew Arnold.]

Ashton Nichols in a recent article in the Victorians Institute Journal on Browning's monologues analyzed the ways in which Browning's poems imply the suppression of other voices that a reader must reconstruct in order to understand the effaced context of the utterance. Nichols used Mikhail...

(The entire section is 6562 words.)

Philip Davis (essay date 1996)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Davis, Philip. “Why Do We Remember Forwards and Not Backwards?” In Mortal Pages, Literary Lives: Studies in Nineteenth-Century Autobiography, edited by Vincent Newey and Philip Shaw, pp. 81-102. Aldershot, England: Scolar Press, 1996.

[In the following essay, Davis identifies the major stylistic and formal limitations of Victorian autobiography, particularly highlighting the genre's strict adherence to linearity and its inability to bridge ancient and modern conceptions of the self.]


‘Nobody’, said Leslie Stephen, ‘ever wrote a dull autobiography.’1

But what about this, from Leslie...

(The entire section is 10064 words.)