Language, Science and Popular Fiction in the Victorian Fin-de-siècle: The Brutal Tongue

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Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2006 - 180 pages
Christine Ferguson's timely study is the first comprehensive examination of the importance of language in forming a crucial nexus among popular fiction, biology, and philology at the Victorian fin-de-siecle. Focusing on a variety of literary and non-literary texts, the book maps out the dialogue between the Victorian life and social sciences most involved in the study of language and the literary genre frequently indicted for causing linguistic corruption and debasement - popular fiction. Ferguson demonstrates how Darwinian biological, philological, and anthropological accounts of 'primitive' and animal language were co-opted into wider cultural debates about the apparent brutality of popular fiction, and shows how popular novelists such as Marie Corelli, Grant Allen, H.G. Wells, and Bram Stoker used their fantastic narratives to radically reformulate the relationships among language, thought, and progress that underwrote much of the contemporary prejudice against mass literary taste

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Contents

What Does Brutal Language Mean?
13
The Voice of the People
47
Savage Articulations in the Romances of Grant Allen
71
The Law and the Larynx
105
Standard English at Stake in Stokers Dracula
131
Epilogue
155
Index
175
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About the author (2006)

Christine Ferguson is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Alberta, Canada.

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