Faithful Realism Elizabeth Gaskell and Leo Tolstoy : A Comparative Study

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2002-05-01
  • Publisher: Bucknell University Press

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Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?


Criticism of Elizabeth Gaskell of the last half century has tended to concentrate upon her contribution to the Victorian "social-problem" novel or upon her achievements as a female novelist writing about women. This book offers a reading of Elizabeth Gaskell's work which runs counter to the established view of her as a sociopolitical and/or provincial writer whose work is principally of interest to social historians or to those interested in women's studies.
Josie Billington seeks to resituate Gaskell's work within the wider tradition of nineteenth-century realism and argues that Gaskell deserves to be read not as a poor second to George Eliot but as offering an English Victorian equivalent of the religious realism of Leo Tolstoy. By bringing together for comparison two writers whose realist mode and vision rests upon a form of religious belief, and by setting these against the more skeptical forms of realism offered by George Eliot and Thomas Hardy, the book also offers a strong challenge to the accepted view of the nineteenth-century realist novel as an essentially secular form - the epic, as Lukacs put it, of a world abandoned by God.
This book makes a highly original contribution to Gaskell scholarship not only in the fresh emphasis it gives to Gaskell's work, but in the subtle close reading it applies to original manuscript material and the consequent teasing out of Gaskell's characteristic habits of mind and composition. In addition, the book makes a valuable contribution to the study of nineteenth-century realist fiction in relation to belief and secularization in the Victorian period.

Author Biography

Josie Billington was educated through first degree, Masters, and Ph.D. at the University of Liverpool and is Senior Lecturer in English at Chester College of Higher Education

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 9
Helen and Wives and Daughtersp. 17
An Older World: Helenp. 17
From Helen to Wives and Daughtersp. 31
Reading Gaskell's (So-Called) "Homely Prose"p. 40
Second Thoughts: Small Revisionsp. 40
The Characteristic Syntaxp. 50
Time and Memoryp. 68
Elizabeth Gaskell: A Social Novelist?p. 75
Mary Barton and North and Southp. 75
Sylvia's Lovers and Cousin Phillisp. 97
Gaskell and Tolstoyp. 109
From The Cossacks to Anna Kareninap. 109
Anna versus Levinp. 120
England's Tolstoy--George Eliot? or Elizabeth Gaskell?p. 131
On Life's Vergep. 141
War and Peace: Beyond Life and Within Lifep. 141
Resurrectionp. 156
Conclusion: Gaskell and Tolstoy: Alternative Visionsp. 172
Facsimile of passage from Wives and Daughtersp. 182
Facsimile of passage from Sylvia's Loversp. 188
Notesp. 192
Bibliographyp. 214
Indexp. 225
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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