Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Victorian #5

I read this book for the A Victorian Celebration 2015 hosted over at A Literary Odyssey in June and July, 2015.

London in Dickens’ Day – Jacob Korg, editor

This is a 1960 collection of first-hand essays and reports about life and culture in London from 1835 to 1872. It opens with selections from Dickens' own Sketches by Boz and his magazine Household Words.  Then, the selections from Henry Mayhew’s London Labour and London Poor make us want to read the whole book, famous as a pioneering work in anthropology, sociology, and investigative journalism. It also has essays from foreigners’ point of view by Max Schlesinger (German), Ralph Waldo Emerson (American), and Hippolyte Taine (French). These are interesting too in that we can identify the writers’ cultural blind spots and preconceptions. It’s strange how the most talented people turn into know-alls when they talk about other cultures. The anthology was designed to give students practice is writing research papers and has a tantalizing bibliography for further readings from scholars from the Forties and Fifties.

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