Dickens and the Rise of Divorce “Highly recommended” by Choice magazine

We were very pleased to see that Dickens and the Rise of Divorce impressed the Choice reviewers this month:

This provocative book is worthy because it challenges the reader to reexamine ideas about Dickens and the Victorian novel in general… Highly recommended

Questioning a literary history that, since Ian Watt’s Rise of the Novel, has privileged the courtship plot, the book’s author Kelly Hager proposes an equally powerful but overlooked narrative focusing on the failed marriage.

In the course of her revisionist readings of Dickens’s novels, Hager uncovers a Dickens who is neither the conservative agent of the patriarchy nor a novelistic Jeremy Bentham, and reveals that tipping the marriage plot on its head forces us to adjust our understanding of the complexities of Victorian proto-feminism.

Other reviews:

‘Kelly Hager’s wonderful new book questions English novel theory, which since Ian Watt has focused upon the courtship plot. Hager suggests another equally powerful framing of the English novel: failed-marriage plots or novels of “marital discontents”. Although the chapters on Dickens are splendid in their careful close readings of the novels, Hager’s original, well-researched, and beautifully written work compels us to reconsider not only Dickens’s work, but also the entire canon of the English novel.’    Deborah Denenholz Morse, Professor of English, The College of William and Mary, USA

‘What’s best about this book is not only the way it calls to mind scenes of lurid domestic discontent more frequent and more suggestive than any reader is likely to remember. More than this, its subtle sense of literary negotiation goes far toward explaining just why we forget them—or just how it is that we assimilate them (uncannily, melodramatically) without letting them altogether sidetrack the monorail of marital closure.’    Garrett Stewart, James O. Freedman Professor of Letters, The University of Iowa, USA

About the Author: Kelly Hager is Associate Professor of English and Women’s & Gender Studies at Simmons College, USA.

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