First published in 1981, this book represents the first comprehensive examination of Victorian societyâ€™s preoccupation with the â€˜notion of the gentlemanâ€™ and how this was reflected in the literature of the time. Starting with Addison and Lord Chesterfield, the author explores the influence of the gentlemanly ideal on the evolution of the English middle classes, and reveals its central part in the novels of Thackeray, Dickens and Trollope. Combining social and cultural analysis with literary criticism, this book provides new readings of Vanity Fair and Great Expectations, a fresh approach to Trollope, and a detailed account of the various streams that fed into the idea of the gentleman.
Table of Contents
Preface and acknowledgements; Note on Main Texts; Introduction: The Idea of the Gentleman; 1 The Legacy from the Eighteenth Century 2 Thackeray and the Regency 3 The Mid-Century Context 4 Dickens and Great Expectations 5 Trollope and the Squires; Epilogue; Additional Bibliography; Index