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Schoolboy Latin and the mid-Victorian novelist: a study in reader competence

Skilton, David John 1988. Schoolboy Latin and the mid-Victorian novelist: a study in reader competence. Browning Institute Studies 16 , pp. 39-55. 10.1017/S009247250000208X

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It is possible to approach the question of novelists' use of classical references and quotations from the point of view of the authors themselves, examining their reading and education, and the private as well as public implications of this learning; or we can take the point of view of the texts and their intertextual connections, to enrich our reading of the novels concerned by showing how they reach out to other works, ancient and modern. In contrast, this article discusses what we can deduce about novelists' expectations as to their readers' competence in the classics by examining references in some of the great, widely-read novels of the middle years of Victoria's reign. Most of the examples to be cited which require any linguistic competence rely on Latin, and most of this Latin was familiar and learnt by rote by people of a certain background, gender, and education, and so I shall call it “schoolboy Latin.” The novelists referred to are Thackeray, Trollope, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Dickens, George Eliot, and G.J. Whyte Melville, who are divided in their respect for the Victorian habit of Latin quotation and are correspondingly lavish or parsimonious in their use of it.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 00924725
ISSN: 0092-4725
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2017 10:10

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