Darton, F. J. Harvey.  Children’s Books in England: Five Centuries of Social Life. 3rd ed. (London: British Library, 1999): 252-255.
Darton considers that The Water-Babies and other of Kingsley’s writings were flawed because of the author’s tendency to preach and to aim at a moral purpose.  However, he also praises Kingsley’s fine imagination and pure simplicity.

The Water-Babies; Children; Didacticism.

Horsman, Alan.  “Elizabeth Gaskell and the Kingsleys,” in his The Victorian Novel (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990): 256-294.
In his brief examination of Yeast, Alton Locke, Two Years Ago, and The Water-Babies Horsman praises the clarity, the felicity and the exactitude of Kingsley's descriptive passages, qualities that make him "stand out among the minor novelists" (256).  However, he also faults Kingsley for neglecting his novel writing in favor of the pursuit of his religious and educational aims that led him to take "the short cuts of melodrama and allegory" (256).  Horsman also criticizes the didacticism pervading Kingsley's novels though he acknowledges that despite its strong didactic elements The Water-Babies comes closest to a work of the imagination.

Yeast; Alton Locke; Two Years Ago; The Water-Babies; Novels; Didacticism.

MacNeice, Louis. Varieties of Parable (Cambridge: Cambridge at the University Press, 1965).
MacNeice discusses The Water-Babies, “one of the most uneven and ragbaggy books in the language” (83).  Though he enjoys the fantasy and escapism, he is greatly critical of the digressions about contemporary disputes and excessive moralizing.  While Lewis Carroll also introduces aspects of contemporary problems into his works, he does not allow them to interfere with the story.  However, Kingsley does, “and in a story which, potentially, had many of the virtues of a myth it is a very serious fault” (83).

The Water-Babies; Didacticism.

Muller, Charles H. “The Christian Didactics and the Sermons of  Charles Kingsley,” Communiqué  Vol. 9, No. 1 (1984): 14-44.
In a lengthy article Muller declares that Kingsley the preacher was essentially a teacher.  He examines Kingsley’ style of preaching, his didactic methodology, and his socio-theological didactics.  He declares that Kingsley was a forceful and emotional preacher, sometimes dynamic and dramatic, but frequently lacking in incisive intellectual argumentation.  When he expounded Scripture and taught about God, whether he preached to the unsophisticated in Eversley or to royals at the Chapel Royal or Windsor he was invariably didactic.  He was consistent in his didactic material: “the statutes of a loving but just God.  God is often revealed as severe and terribly exacting.  But there are times when God is seen as the author of benevolence and mercy” (33).  Muller declares that the didactic purpose of Kingsley’s sermons is primarily ethical-moral.  “It teaches, essentially, that there can be no change in the social order, no purposeful progress towards the perfect realization of God’s kingdom on earth, without a spiritual revolution first taking place within the heart and life of the individual.  Freedom from sin will mean a new spiritual democracy, when men have the strength to resist sin and choose the right” (39).

Sermons; Preacher, Kingsley as; Didacticism; Religion.

Stang, Richard.  The Theory of the Novel in England 1850-1870 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1959).
Stang refers to Kingsley frequently in this work. For example, he mentions George Meredith's criticism of Kingsley's excessive hortatory approach in Two Years Ago, George Eliot's similar condemnation of his didacticism and moralizing in Westward Ho!, the National Review's 1860 very severe treatment of his general novelist style and art, Blackwood's branding of Yeast as immoral. Stang also discusses Kingsley's belief that the novel should include long explanatory passages in order to educate less intelligent readers.

Novels; Reception of Kingsley's Works; Didacticism.


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