The Experience of Idling in Victorian Travel Texts, 1850–1901
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This book brings together theories of spatiality and mobility with a study of travel writing in the Victorian period to suggest that ‘idleness’ is an important but neglected condition of subjectivity in that era. Contrary to familiar stereotypes of ‘the Victorians’ as characterized by speed, work, and mechanized travel, this books asserts a counter-narrative in which certain writers embraced idleness in travel as a radical means to ‘re-subjectification’ and the assertion of a ‘late-Romantic’ sensibility. Attentive to the historical and literary continuities between ‘Romantic’ and ‘Victorian’, the book reconstructs the Victorian discourse on idleness. It draws on an interdisciplinary range of theorists and brings together a fresh selection of accounts viewed through the lens of cultural studies as well as accounts of publication history and author biography. Travel texts from different genres (by writers such as Anna Mary Howitt, Jerome K. Jerome and George Gissing) are brought together as representing the different facets of the spectrum of idleness in the Victorian context.
Seeks to contextualize the status of both idleness and travel in the Victorian age and connect the topics by reading travel texts by both canonical and lesser-known writers, including Anna Mary Howitt, W.H. Hudson, Jerome K. Jerome, Margaret Fountaine and George Gissing
Combines close readings with a pronounced interest in the history of mentalities to arrive at a multi-faceted representation of the attitudes and concerns of the English middle-class in the nineteenth century surrounding the discourses on leisure, idleness and travel
Heidi Liedke is Assistant Professor of English literature at the University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany, and Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow at Queen Mary University of London, UK with a new project on theatre livecasts. She obtained her PhD in English philology at the University of Freiburg, Germany, in 2016. She is co-editor of the collection Muße und Moderne (Idleness and Modernity; Mohr Siebeck, to be published in 2018). Her work has appeared in Textus and Recherches et Travaux.