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Palgrave Macmillan

Habit in the English Novel, 1850-1900

Lived Environments, Practices of the Self

ISBN 9781137349392
Publication Date November 2013
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture

The ancient philosophical concept of habit fixated and unsettled the Victorians in profoundly new ways, as advances in physiology and evolutionary theory sparked far-reaching debates about the threat of automatism and the proper mental training of the will. This book suggests that nineteenth-century novelists not only echoed these debates but intervened in them in unique, transformative, and strikingly modern ways. In attending closely to the enabling, generative potential of habit and its role in the creation of new perceptions and social identities, novelists from Dickens to James bequeathed a far more complex conception of the category than has yet been acknowledged, allowing for a rich phenomenology of the unpredictable, changeable modes of modern existence. Habit in the English Novel, 1850-1900 reconsiders what we have come to assume about the Victorian novel, including our own critical habits, in the wake of Freud and cultural modernism.

Sean O'Toole is Assistant Professor of English at the City University of New York, Baruch College, USA.

Acknowledgements
Introduction
PART I: GENERATIVE HABITS
1 The Sensing Self: Dickens and the Space of Habit
2 Believing is Seeing: George Eliot's Past Effects
PART II: PATTERNS OF CONSCIOUSNESS
3 Embodied Dispositions, Meredithian Slips
4 Passionate Possessions: Henry James's Queer Properties
Coda: The Grain and the Heap, or the Afterlife of Habit
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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