In a single narrative entwining the ideological history of religion and economics, the literary history of the novel, and the commodity history of the serial, this book shows how Dickens, Thackeray and George Eliot worked to reenchant Victorian modernity. From the mean streets of 1830s London to the leafy quadrangles of 1870s Cambridge, these three great novelists could only succeed by giving their readers the symbolic means of making sense of the new. Each aspired to show Victorian modernity's hidden but transcendent essence; yet was haunted by the belief that only suffering could redeem social life under the modern world-system. Treating forgotten sketches and unpublished melodramas as well as classics like Pickwick Papers, Vanity Fair, and Middlemarch, The Reenchantment of Nineteenth-Century Fiction shows how Victorian Literary Culture struggled between an obsolete past and a blank future, "one dead, the other powerless to be born"

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