Thomas Carlyle the great Victorian historian, close friend of Charles Dickens wrote these wonderful words which have been carved in stone in the foyer to the Mitchell ( State Library) in Sydney. For those of us studying Romanticism, Charles Dickens and Victorianism, these words have a special resonance. They remind us (in this forgetful digital age) of how important the printed word in the book is to our soul, to our connection with so much that gives humanity its meaning and purpose: “THE SOUL OF THE WHOLE PAST TIME/ THE ARTICULATE AUDIBLE VOICE OF THE PAST/ WHEN THE BODY/ AND MATERIAL SUBSTANCE/ OF IT HAS ALTOGETHER/ VANISHED LIKE A DREAM“.
So literature contains within it the transformative vision -“the soul of the whole past”- that sustains the enduring life of things. Many of the poems and prose works that we have been studying, speak across the centuries and across the horrific enmities that continue to plague the world. Wordsworth’s leech gatherer in “Resolution and Independence” and Charles Dickens’s Pip in Great Expectations equally carry “the articulate audible voice” of love for all humanity across the deadened landscape of industrialism, materialism and self-interest. The leech gatherer reveals to Wordsworth that a deep internal stability is possible in difficult circumstances and Pip discovers that there is much more to living than self-interest.
Blog Topic 1 for Week 8
Blog Topic 1: Take any literary text and suggest how and why the words of this text continue to have a transformative, illuminating, nurturing LIFE. Is this why we continue to engage with literature? Is literature an antidote to the destructive forces in the world?
Blog Topic 2: Imagine you are a Victorian woman or man. Describe the things you value most in life.
Blog Topic 3: Based on your reading so far, and your viewing in the Art Gallery describe your journey from home to University in the year 1852
Blog Topic 4: Write a paragraph summary of the benefits of using the Victorian Web for exploring the issues raised in this unit: Victorianweb.org
Blog Topic 5: Create a topic of your own that helps to illuminate the transition from Romanticism to Victorianism.