|Childers, Joseph W. “Alton
Locke and the Religion of Chartism,” in Novel Possibilities: Fiction
and the Formation of Early Victorian Culture (Philadelphia: University
of Pennsylvania Press, 1995): 132-157.
In his analysis of Alton Locke Childers
focuses in particular on the relationship between politics and religion.
He argues that the spiritual reform advocated, the "religion of Chartism",
alleviates the fear of the middle classes of a revolt based on immorality
or infidelity, since the reform is strongly linked to the tenets of religion,
of Christianity. However, the advocacy has little social value as
long as it remains the subjective view only of Alton. For real change
to be effected, these views must be embraced by a wider public.
and Political Novel.
Christensen, Torben. Origin and History of
Christian Socialism 1848-1854 (Aarhus, Denmark: Universitetsforlaget,
In his study of Christian Socialism Christensen makes frequent mention
of Kingsley, focusing in particular on his activities in the Chartist movement
and as the author of Alton Locke.
Socialism; Chartism; Alton
Cripps, Elizabeth A. "Introduction," Alton Locke,
Tailor and Poet: An Autobiography (Oxford; New York: Oxford University
Press, 1983): vii-xx.
Cripps introduces Alton Locke by considering the context of
the troubled Chartist times in which it was both written and set.
She also briefly discusses the novel's publication history, its reception
by the critics, and its representation of many of Kingsley's social and
political views. She regrets on literary grounds that Kingsley revised
the Cambridge part of the novel. Praising for the most part the characterization
in the novel, Cripps also lauds its graphic depictions.
and Political Novel; Social
and Political Views;
Daumas, Phillippe. “Charles Kingsley's Style
in Alton Locke,” Les Langues Modernes Vol. 63 (1969): 169-75.
Daumas argues that due to Kingsley’s conflicting views on Chartism
there is a certain mystification in Alton Locke. Though the
novel seems to be an advocacy of Chartism and social reform, the reader
when finished understands that it is really an espousal of charity and
Christianity. “Contrary to what one had been led to think, Alton
Locke is not a tract in support of socialism, but a vindication of
Kingsley’s own conception of Christianity” (169).
and Political Views;
Dottin, Françoise. “Chartism and Christian
Socialism in Alton Locke,” Politics in Literature in the Nineteenth
Century (Lille: Centre d'Etudes Victoriennes, U. de Lille, 1974): 31-59.
Dottin discusses Kingsley's social and political views as represented
in Alton Locke, especially those relating to Chartism and Christian
Socialism, as well as his own practical endeavors in these areas. She concludes
that while Kingsley is somewhat difficult to categorize, he is "neither
a revolutionary nor a fawning aristocrat", and that he is best described
by the two words Christian and socialist (54).
Socialism; Social and Political
Views; Social and Political Novel.
Edwards, David Lawrence. Leaders of the Church
of England, 1828-1944 (London; New York: Oxford University Press, 1971).
Edwards declares that Kingsley’s courage in writing his manifesto on
10 April, 1848 at the time of the Chartist upheaval has been exaggerated.
Many other preachers and religious journalists sympathized with the social
and political sentiments of Kingsley, Maurice, et al. However, Kingsley
was indeed courageous in going further than merely sympathizing with the
demands of the workers. He actually worked alongside them and “it
was this that in the 1850s brought on Kingsley, and on Maurice, the wrath
of the religious Tories of the Record and the Quarterly Review
– and of secularists such as Karl Marx who feared competition from the
Christian Socialists’ ‘holy water’” (136).
and Political Views; Chartism.
Lodge, David. “Introduction” to Charles Kingsley,
Locke: Tailor and Poet, ed. Herbert Van Thal (London: Cassell, 1967):
In his introduction to Alton Locke, Lodge declares that while
Kingsley shows keen sympathy for the workers' conditions of employment
and general social plight, he is also critical of their general modes of
reacting against established authority. This was in keeping with the tenor
of his ideology for, as he aged, Kingsley abandoned his younger radical
views and became increasingly an establishment figure. Still, observes
Lodge, Kingsley's effort on behalf of the oppressed and deprived working
poor, "of which
Alton Locke is an eloquent testimony, reflects most
credit upon him, and leaves him least vulnerable to the irony of a more
sophisticated and more cynical age than his own"
Socialism; Social and Political
Menke, Richard. "Cultural Capital and the Scene of
Rioting: Male Working-Class Authorship in Alton Locke," Victorian
Literature and Culture Vol. 28, No. 1 (2000): 87-108.
Menke considers “the protean Locke and the story Kingsley tells about
him not as figures of pure writing but as representations of the relationship
between the ‘condition of England problem’ and the sphere of cultural production.
– specifically, between the social problem of class oppression and what
John Guillory, after the French sociologist of culture Pierre Bourdieu,
has taught us to call ‘cultural capital’”. Menke argues that Alton
Locke is concerned with a very practical feature of cultural capital:
“linguistic access to the correct forms of literary language, institutional
access to publication or patronage, material access to the time
and tools necessary for writing literature, socio-literary access
to the appropriate genres and traditions.” Menke also contends that
“the novel’s treatment of Chartist politics impinges upon its construction
of male, working-class authorship as a resolvable analogue and displacement
of the problems raised by radical politics” (88).
Morton, A. L. “Parson Lot,” in his The Matter of
Britain: Essays in a Living Culture (London: Lawrence & Wishart,
Morton provides a brief account of Kingsley’s life and works, paying
particular attention to his endeavors on behalf of the poor as Parson Lot,
Christian Socialist. He praises Kingsley’s genuine commitment to
the plight of the down-trodden though he considers Kingsley was a combination
of both Radical and Tory. Believing in the worker and the aristocrat,
it was the classes in between for whom Kingsley had a great antipathy.
Morton also lauds the depiction of the worker and of Chartism in Alton
Locke. Though Kingsley finally denounces Chartism, this is the
first time that English fiction deals with it seriously and sympathetically.
Though Kingsley never really succeeded in standing apart from his Tory
views and though his socialist work invariably failed, he was, according
to Morton, “like Ruskin, one of those who helped to prepare the ground
from which a genuine socialist movement was to spring a generation or so
Muller, Charles H. “Alton Locke: Kingsley's
Dramatic Sermon,” Unisa English Studies Vol. 14, Nos. 2-3 (1976):
Though much of Alton Locke, according to Muller, reads as a
political tract and Alton himself is represented through most of the novel
as a dangerous agitator, a dramatic change occurs at the end with Alton
renouncing his subversive views and embracing religion as a solution.
Kingsley seeing no distinction between the secular and the religious, believed
that such desiderata as sanitary reform and social emancipation would come
about through spiritual or religious emancipation. Alton Locke may
be viewed not primarily as a Chartist novel but as an expression of Kingsley's
Christian work on behalf of the poorer classes. The novel "is really
a Christian novel, written in the spirit of his sermons which never failed
to emphasize, on the one hand, the Gospel message of the Kingdom of God,
and, on the other, personal salvation or reform" (9).
Vulliamy, Colwyn E. "Charles Kingsley and Christian
Socialism," in Writers and Rebels: From the Fabian Biographical Series,
ed. by Michael Katanka (London: Knight, 1976; Totowa, N. J.: Rowman and
Littlefield, 1976), 159-191 (first published as a Fabian Tract in 1914).
Vulliamy examines Kingsley’s views as a socialist as they developed
and changed throughout his life, paying particular attention to his connection
with Chartism, his work in sanitation, his socialist publications, and
his activities in the Christian Socialist movement. Vulliamy stresses
that Kingsley the socialist was extremely constitutional and on no account
revolutionary. In addition, he accepted the system of social classes
as divinely ordained and were not be changed. The pervasive social
ills were to be blamed on the individual not the class. He concludes
that “Kingsley’s power is to be found, not in the startling or original
nature of his views, but in his manly and uncompromising advocacy of those
views, and in the example of a most living and vigorous personality” (189).
and Political Views;
Williams, Raymond. Culture
and Society 1780-1950 (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1977; first
Williams in his brief examination of the “extremely discursive” Alton
Locke praises much of the background depiction of the novel.
He stresses the importance of the work’s conclusion. While Chartism
and the plight of the workers are treated sympathetically throughout, the
true solution to life’s problems resides in the acceptance of God.
Williams also points to the novel’s preface where Kingsley argues that
“The regeneration of society . . . will meanwhile proceed under the leadership
of a truly enlightened aristocracy. It will be a movement towards
democracy, but not to that ‘tyranny of numbers’ of which the dangers have
been seen in the United States” (112).
and Political Novel; Chartism.