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Populating the Novel – Literary Form and the Politics of Surplus Life - Cornell Scholarship Online
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Populating the Novel: Literary Form and the Politics of Surplus Life

Emily Steinlight


From the teeming streets of Dickens's London to the households of domestic fiction, nineteenth-century British writers constructed worlds crammed beyond capacity with human life. This book contends that rather than simply reflecting demographic growth, such pervasive literary crowding contributed to a seismic shift in British political thought. The book shows how the nineteenth-century novel, in particular, claimed a new cultural role as it took on the task of narrating human aggregation at a moment when the Malthusian specter of surplus population suddenly and quite unexpectedly became a cent ... More

Keywords: nineteenth-century Britain, British writers, literary crowding, nineteenth-century novel, nineteenth-century fiction, Victorian novel, overpopulation

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2018 Print ISBN-13: 9781501710704
Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2022 DOI:10.7591/cornell/9781501710704.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Emily Steinlight, author
University of Pennsylvania