Skip navigation to main content

Why Victorian Literature Still Matters

Written by jen, 21st May 2009

Phil Davis's passionate defence of Victorian literature's enduring impact and importance, Why Victorian Literature Still Matters (2008), has been reviewed in the current edition of The Cambridge Quarterly. Claire Charlotte McKechnie writes:

Perhaps it is Davis's role as editor of the non-academic literary magazine The Reader that gives him licence to argue vehemently for the role of the reader in Victorian novels and poems... It is readers, he contends, who ‘go to the book to internalize it, personally, emotionally, as if they might just find revealed there a version of the secrets of their lives’... Essentially, Davis's book is about a philosophy of literature; in it he expands the possibilities of what studying literature can mean, how we can expand our minds in order to reach new and exciting conclusions about things we often take for granted, about ourselves, about the past, about life... Readers – all readers – cannot ignore that they are emotionally moved by literature, and why should they?

So why does Victorian literature still matter? If we are to take part in attempting to respond to the title of Davis's stimulating study, perhaps it is that Victorian literature is fundamental to understanding ourselves and our past. Like the Victorians, with their fascination with origins (culminating in Darwin's Origin of Species), perhaps we too feel the need to trace who we are and where we come from. The Victorians left their legacy in our architecture and designs, music and art, politics and science, and even (or especially) our theories of life and death. Yet, most of all, perhaps we find ourselves in their literature.

You can read the review in full here. Why Victorian Literature Still Matters by Phil Davis is available to buy (along with all the Victorian literature you could ever want) from our online bookshop.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles


Featured Poem: Envy by Adelaide Anne Procter

This week's Featured Poem is 'Envy' by Adelaide Anne Procter, chosen by The Reader's Head of Learning and Quality, Clare…

Read more

Featured Poem: Summer Tints by John Clare

This week's Featured Poem is 'Summer Tints' by John Clare, chosen by The Reader's Learning and Quality Leader, Natalie Kaas…

Read more

Poems for Pride

We're celebrating #liverpoolpride this weekend with some #poemsforpride - check out our recommended reads from LGBTQ+ authors, or those speaking…

Contact us

Get in touch and be part of the story
You can also speak to us on: 0151 729 2200
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.