Thesis ID: CBB154143219

Typical People in the Nineteenth-Century Novel (2015)


We usually encounter objects as instances: a pen, a tree, a stream. We approach them as logically subsumed. But George Eliot's Saint Theresa or Charles Dickens’s Mr. Turveydrop is not an instance of something but rather has instances: the uncounted “Theresas” or the “many Mr. Turveydrops.” The individual functions itself as a concept. It becomes a mental representation of a whole class of things. Logically, it is not enclosed but rather encloses. Referentially, it picks out a domain within the world and opens a new space in the mind. The character becomes many. He is everywhere in the way that maple tree or red is. As concepts, these characters become the constituents of thought; we think with persons. Such types are where investigation of the nature of ideas touches that on the possibilities of artistic representation and the risks of social being. But they are also where art itself feels its surround, referentially and methodologically. Through its shared preoccupation with the concept and shared language of the type, the novel became fully alive to concurrent work in other fields and tried its implications; it assimilated, rebuffed, and creatively misprized contemporary theories of the type in philosophical logic, statistics, sociology, medicine, psychology, comparative anatomy, biological taxonomy, and evolutionary theory. Drawing from the outer edge of the novel and beyond it, the type defined the work of the writers studied here—Charles Dickens, Honoré de Balzac, George Eliot, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Thomas Hardy—from its core.

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Authors & Contributors
Henchman, Anna Alexandra
Buckland, Adelene
LaPorte, Charles
Woodward, Kathleen
Brown, Marshall
Law, Jules
19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century
Victorian Literature and Culture
Victorian Studies
Journal of Medical Biography
Nineteenth-Century Contexts
University of Massachusetts Press
University of Chicago Press
Pickering & Chatto
University of Toronto
Virginia, University of
New York University
Science and literature
Popular culture
Science and culture
Dickens, Charles
Hardy, Thomas
Eliot, George
Collins, Wilkie
Gaskell, Elizabeth
Tylor, Edward Burnett
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
Great Britain

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