The Victorian World Picture

David Newsome, Author
David Newsome, Author Rutgers University Press $59 (320p) ISBN 978-0-8135-2454-2
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
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Newsome, who won the Whitbread Prize for his biography of diarist A.C. Benson, has a reputation for exhaustive research, and his latest work demonstrates why. Drawing on political speeches, newspaper accounts, letters and journals from authors, politicians and the leading intellectuals of the day, Newsome offers a comprehensive picture of the rapidly changing world of Victorian England. The Victorian Age seems suited for this kind of intellectual history if for no other reason than that its contemporaries were peculiarly aware of the uniqueness of their position in history--one that followed the aftermath of the French Revolution and the end of the monarchy, and grappled with the tremendous advances and onslaught of new problems of the Industrial Revolution. Thomas Arnold's quip that Victorians lived ""the life of three hundred years in thirty"" sums up the prevailing attitude of the age. Readers will find in this work an impressive account of the economic, political and philosophical tensions of the day as Newsome details the intellectual separatism that pervaded issues of religion, education, labor, capitalism, politics and science. The astute reader will immediately recognize the parallels between the 19th and 20th centuries, but Newsome himself wisely avoids confronting this issue until the conclusion of the work. No other work has ever contained so thorough and complete a synthesis of the social and political thinking of the Victorians, and Newsome can expect his work to become a classic. (Nov.)
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