The Oxford English Literary History is the new century's definitive account of a rich and diverse literary heritage that stretches back for a millennium and more.
Each of these groundbreaking volumes offers a leading scholar's considered assessment of the authors, works, cultural traditions. events, and ideas that shaped the literary voices of their age. The series will enlighten and inspire not only everyone studying, teaching, and researching in English Literature, but all serious readers.
The Victorian era produced a literature of diversity and experimentation, engaged with powerful controversies and heartfelt arguments that lie at the center of the formation of the modern world. It has often been misrepresented, either as an age of dull and rigid certainty or one of anxious and depressive morbidity, but what distinguishes the writing of the periodfrom its origins in the 1830s to its crisis point around 1880is its power of serious inquiry. It poses questions about the relation between society and the individual, the rival claims of market and morality, the form and function of democracy, and, above all, the existence or non-existence of God and the purposes of human life. Such concerns make this a time in which literature has a new urgency and vitality, and lies close to the heart of a culminating crisis of the Western conscience.