|Banton, Michael. “Kingsley’s Racial Philosophy,”
Vol. LXXVIII, No. 655 (Jan., 1975): 22-30.
In this short examination of Kingsley's views on race Banton warns
of the danger of presentism, that is interpreting these views in terms
of the perspective and context of a later period. Some of Kingsley's
writings, declares Banton, have been considered with a presentism interpretation
and he himself "has at times been categorized as a racist by authors who
reflect very little before applying this highly elastic contemporary category
to people living in a period when the understanding of the biological nature
of man was very different" (22).
Beer, Gillian. Darwin's Plots: Evolutionary
Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot and Nineteenth-Century Fiction (London:
Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983).
Beer considers Kingsley's debt to Darwin and the evolutionary theories
in his works, particularly The Water-Babies. The latter novel,
Beer points out, echoes how Darwin's natural order reflects such features
of Victorian society as division of labor, competition, and family structures.
Kingsley also follows to a certain degree Darwin's challenge to Malthusian
theories. Like Darwin, Kingsley disputes Malthus by regarding profusion
and hyper-productivity as good and in his account of the evolutionary process
of the once excluded Tom he challenges Malthusian social theory.
"In its unguarded and unanalytic response to Darwin's ideas and rhetoric,
Kingsley's work represents the first phase of assimilation. He grasped
much of what was fresh in Darwin's ideas while at the same time retaining
a creationist view of experience" (138).
Beer, Gillian. “Kingsley: 'pebbles on the shore',”
Listener Vol. 93 (17 April, 1975): 506-7.
Beer briefly considers Kingsley’s views on the importance of catering
to children’s imaginative needs. She reviews certain attributes of
Water-Babies. It is distressful, very funny, and full of social
and political digressions; some of its episodes are cruel and make us wince;
it is very sensual and crammed with physical experiences. She discusses
the important role aspects of evolutionary theory play throughout the work.
“It is hard, I think, to over-emphasise the richness of Kingsley’s recognition
of mythic elements in the ideas of development and mutation, of ‘metamorphosis’
as Darwin sometimes calls it . . .” In addition, complementing physical
transformation, moral transformation, the responsibility of the individual
himself, is a very significant theme in the work. Beer also stresses
that Mother Carey is a female principle of creativity, as opposed to the
more usual male God. Because of the occurrences of child death in
Water-Babies Beer views it as a kindertotenlied, “another of
those attempts to give meaning to the death of children, so deeply and
terribly needed by the Victorians” (507).
Brinton, Crane. English Political Thought
in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1954).
Brinton provides an overview of Kingsley’s life and his major social
and political views. While his Christian Socialism was by no means
a system, Kingsley held that a Christian Socialist society would indeed
be hierarchical where each one's place is determined by his moral value
as well as democratic in the sense that each one's place has been allotted
by God. Brinton considers that Kingsley’s ideal society was based
on older English societies where different social classes “were knit together
by habits which were genuine human relationships”. His “programme
is singularly like that of Tory Democracy” (125). Kingsley’s paternalism
did not signify that he rejected competition. Competition was good
but workers must first be members of cooperative associations, an ideal
similar to “modern guild Socialism” (126). While Brinton considers
that Kingsley’s achievements were not insignificant, his ideals based on
his religious faith could accomplish little to improve the very practical
ills of working class and under-privileged society. “His God, his
virtue, his England, made too many promises to the flesh – promises unfulfilled
to the common man. For the uncommon man, his faith was even more
inadequate. Taste and intellect alike recoil from the simplicities
of a universe on the pattern of Eversley” (130).
and Political Views; Alton Locke;
Hawley, John C., S.J. “The Water Babies
as Catechetical Paradigm,” Children's Literature Association Quarterly
Vol. 14, No. 1 (Spring 1989): 19-21.
Hawley declares that The Water-Babies has two principle functions,
to entertain and to teach. The goal of education for Kingsley was
ultimately a religious one. Little Tom’s adventures, his evolutionary
progress, the lessons learned all end in religious salvation. Kingsley
also uses The Water-Babies to show that science and evolution can
co-exist with religion. “With the publication of this novel he offers
his most attractive, deceptively simple presentation of the argument that
all purely scientific explanations of reality would benefit by being placed
in the larger context of Christian revelation” (20).
Haynes, Roslynn D. “Dream Allegory in Charles
Kingsley and Olive Schreiner,” in Kath Filmer (ed.) The Victorian Fantasists:
Essays on Culture, Society and Belief in the Mythopoeic Fiction of the
Victorian Age (New York: St. Martin’s, 1991): 153-170.
Haynes discusses the “Dreamland” sequence in chapter 36 of Alton
Locke. She declares that carefully and relevantly integrated
into the novel, this sequence anticipates Darwin’s novel by nine years
and reveals a high level of psychological understanding and mythopoeic
skill. She considers that the dream serves several functions: “character
analysis, therapeutic experience . . . didactic expression of unanimity
between science and religion, and cosmological statement embracing evolution,
the myth of the Fall, the Christian doctrine of Redemption through suffering,
and sociological parable” (161).
Haynes, Roslynn D. "The Multiple Functions of Alton
Locke's Dreamland," Cahiers Victoriens et Edouardiens Vol. 25
(April 1987): 29-37.
Though Haynes considers that Alton Locke has less literary merit
than certain other condition of England novels such as Hard Times, Sybil,
Felix Holt, and Mrs. Gaskell's industrial novels, she believes that
the dreamland sequence in chapter 36 renders it unique and of special interest.
She is particularly impressed with Kingsley's knowledge of the mechanism
of dreams. In addition, she praises Kingsley's presentation in this
chapter of evolutionary theories nine years before the publication of Origin
of Species as well as what she considers a very sophisticated characterization
of Alton himself.
Hodgson, Amanda. "Defining the Species: Apes,
Savages and Humans in Scientific and Literary Writing of the 1860s," Journal
of Victorian Culture Vol. 4, No. 2 (Autumn 1999): 228-251.
Hodgson examines The Water-Babies, and particularly the characterization
of Tom, in the context of the contemporary desire to distinguish humans
from animals, especially apes, and the complementary efforts to define
the distinctions between white civilized Europeans and "savages".
Her principal aim is to examine the relationship of this children's story
to contemporary scientific theories on the nature of species as well as
to compare the novel to Browning's 'Caliban upon Setebos'.
Prickett, Stephen. “Adults in Allegory Land:
Kingsley and MacDonald,” in his Victorian Fantasy (Bloomington:
Indiana University Press, 1979): 150-197.
Prickett provides a lengthy examination of The Water-Babies comparing
and contrasting it with several allegorical fantasies of George MacDonald.
Among other topics, he discusses the extent to which Kingsley was influenced
by Wordsworth regarding his view of nature and his attitude to childhood,
as well as by Rabelais. He also examines Platonism, religion, evolution,
and the nature of allegory in The Water-Babies. Prickett declares
that Kingsley and MacDonald have quite distinct mental sets. “Kingsley,
the botanist, marine biologist and historian is fascinated by every minute
detail of this world; ‘other’ worlds are constructs – telling us yet more
about this. MacDonald is a temperamental Platonist, only interested
in the surface of this world for the news it gives him of another, hidden
reality, perceived, as it were, through a glass darkly” (193).
Raven, Rev. Canon C. E. “Charles Kingsley,” The
Listener Vol. 11, No. 283 (13 June, 1934) 1007-1008.
Though holding that Alton Locke is clearly a work of propaganda,
Raven praises it for its scene painting, its descriptions of landscape,
atmosphere, sights, sounds and smells. He declares that the best
work of Kingsley, a passionate lover of nature, was as an interpreter of
recent scientific discoveries in terms of Christianity. “. . . he
was almost the only Churchman of his time to realise that science and the
scientific method were accomplishing a revolution in human thought, and
that unless the Church recognised this it would be unfit to commend its
message to the world” (1008).
Robertson, J. M. A History of Freethought
in the Nineteenth Century. 2 Vols. (New York: Putnam's Sons,
1930). Vol. II, pp. 321-323.
Robertson very briefly discusses Kingsley’s understanding of the compatibility
of science and religion and his acceptance of the theory of evolution.
Street, Brian V. The Savage in Literature:
Representations of ‘Primitive’ Society in English Fiction 1858-1920 (London
and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975).
Street briefly discusses Kingsley’s depiction of degeneration of society,
of race, of individuals. The main reason for degeneration was weak
morality as exemplified by the Doasyoulikes in The Water-Babies.
On the other hand, man might also progress once he adheres to the proper
Victorian ethical values. “By following Christian ethics, we will
progress ‘up’ the evolutionary scale, but if we are sinful and lazy, like
the savages, then we will degenerate” (91).