|Baldwin, Stanley E. Charles
Kingsley (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1934).
This is a book length treatment of Kingsley's life and works.
After chapters providing a brief biography, a discussion of the background
of the novels, and a consideration of the influence of Carlyle and Maurice,
Baldwin devotes separate chapters to each of the novels: Yeast, Alton
Locke, Two Years Ago, Hypatia, Westward Ho!, and Hereward the Wake.
Baldwin is measured in his assessment, though he still finds much to praise
in Kingsley's diverse literary endeavors. Nevertheless, he considers Kingsley
the man as more prominent than his literature. "Some men's writings
are the greatest part of them, and posterity studies their lives through
a spirit of curiosity excited by their works. In a sense this is
true of Kingsley, but in a truer sense many are reading Kingsley's literary
works because of the indelible impression his personality made upon his
fellow men, for whom, in all his activities, he labored. His life
in itself was a poem of deep lyric passion" (194).
Full Book Treatment;
Locke; Two Years Ago; Hypatia;
Ho!; Hereward the Wake.
Bertonneau, Thomas F. “Like Hypatia Before the
Mob: Desire, Resentment, and Sacrifice in The Bostonians (An Anthropoetics),”
Literature Vol. 53, No. 1 (June 1998): 56-90.
Bertonneau disagrees with the conventional contemporary reading of
the scene in Hypatia where Hypatia is murdered by a Christian mob.
Such reading is that the mob is a true representation of Christianity and
that Kingsley is castigating the hypocrisy and brutality of the new religion.
Rather, Bertonneau argues, just because the crowd thinks of itself as Christian
and acts in the name of this religion, it does not mean that it is in fact
truly Christian. “The truth, in Kingsley’s scene, is that the sacrificial
impulse comes not from Jesus (not from Christianity) but from the mob,
which is motivated by passion, not by compassion . . . . The mob
enacts the very impulse, namely sacrifice, that Jesus would suspend” (89).
Brewer, Elizabeth. “Morris
and the ‘Kingsley Movement',” The Journal of the William Morris Society
Vol. IV, No. 2 (Summer 1980): 4-17.
Brewer examines the possible influence Kingsley’s works may have had
on Morris. She believes that it is very difficult to specify categorically
that there was a direct influence, though there are many instances where
the thought of both men overlapped. She discusses, among others, the attack
on celibacy and asceticism in The Saint’s Tragedy and Hypatia;
Kingsley’s stress on the importance of the environment in Yeast;
the socio-political ideas pervading Alton Locke; Kingsley’s belief
in the value of art, an awareness of one's heritage, and the pleasures
of rural life to the ordinary working man; the use of the dream device
in Alton Locke; the romance as well as the Norse element of Hypatia.
Tragedy, The; Hypatia;
Locke; Westward Ho!; Yeast;
and Political Views.
Chapman, Raymond. The Victorian Debate: English
Literature and Society 1832-1901 (New York: Basic Books, 1968).
Chapman briefly discusses Kingsley’s major social and political novels,
Locke, Tailor and Poet (1850), Hypatia
Ago (1857). He also mentions The Water Babies (1863) for
its treatment of child labor and social justice. Chapman declares
that Kingsley wrote in fiction about some of the topics with which Maurice
was dealing in more theological terms. “From Maurice he learned that
the needs of the time could be a pragmatic sanction for Christianity; from
Carlyle, how to subordinate reason to emotion. The combination was,
to say the least, a lively one. Like Samuel Butler, so different
in other ways, Kingsley wrote best about those things which he had made
into a personal grievance” (135).
Social and Political
Novel; Yeast; Alton
Locke; Hypatia; Two
Years Ago; The Water Babies.
Dorman, Susann. “Hypatia and Callista:
The Initial Skirmish between Kingsley and Newman,” Nineteenth-Century
Fiction Vol. 34, No. 2 (September 1979): 173-193.
Dorman argues that the battle lines of the 1864 Kingsley-Newman controversy
were drawn a decade earlier in the two ideologically opposite novels, Kingsley’s
and Newman’s Callista. “. . . it is clear that the seed of
the 1864 conflict which culminated in Newman’s personally triumphant
Pro Vita Sua is deeply rooted in the philosophical antithesis between
the novels Hypatia and Callista” (193). Dorman also
suggests that the criticism Kingsley received from Pusey for his novel’s
alleged immorality, and his subsequent humiliation, strengthened his resolve
not to be humiliated afresh years later but to make a strong attack on
Newman in his 1864 pamphlet.
Downes, David Anthony. “Reverend Charles Kingsley:
Prophet of Convulsion,” in The Temper of Victorian Belief: Studies in
the Religious Novels of Pater, Kingsley, and Newman (New York: Twayne,
Downes examines Kingsley’s style, which he terms “plain prophecy”,
and his religious views. He also discusses differences in style and
temper between Kingsley and Newman, arguing that time has effected a “monumental
irony on historical and critical judgment”. He considers Newman to
be a “medieval personalist” whereas Kingsley is a “prophetical modernist”
(81). Hypatia, argues Downes from his lengthy treatment of
the novel, “represents Kingsley’s search for a way of expressing how religious
faith in Christianity happens, and what it means in the most concrete personalist
terms his imagination would conjure. However philosophically vague,
there is an attempt at a kind of phenomenology of faith, what Newman called
‘a grammar of assent.’ The tenability of Christianity as believable
by people encountering their worlds on the most basic human levels is what
Kingsley was striving to examine” (79).
Hartley, Allan John. The Novels
of Charles Kingsley: A Christian Social Interpretation (Folkestone:
The Hour-Glass Press, 1977).
Hartley in this book-length study interprets
Kingsley's novels in the light of the influence of the Christian Social
Movement. He contends that Kingsley is unusual in using novels to set forth
the message of one whom he, together with many others, viewed as the age's
greatest prophet, F. D. Maurice. "The value of Kingsley's novels ultimately
lies less in their advocacy of liberality and reform, than in their insistent
justification of both on the basis of Christian humanism. Kingsley's
inspiration sprang from Maurice whose reading of the Bible had shown his
disciple the meaning, both of Christianity and of history, and the novels
proclaim that social improvement had necessarily to proceed within the
existing framework of society, which for Kingsley meant a Christian dispensation
based on Commandments engraven on tablets of stone and interpreted by sacrificial
love. A minor prophet proclaiming a minor one, Kingsley thus added
a new dimension to the novel" (169).
Socialism; Maurice; Religion;
and Political Views;
Ho!; Two Years Ago; Hereward
Hawley, John C., S.J. “Newman
the Novelist,” America Vol. 163, No. 18 (Dec 8, 1990): 455-457.
Hawley contrasts the opinions of Kingsley and
Newman on marriage, sexuality, and celibacy especially as these are presented
in their literary works. "In Loss and Gain and Callista Newman
enshrined celibacy as a prophetic witness to the spiritual life.
Kingsley countered in his seven novels with his enshrinement of marriage
as the highest Christian vocation, and coupled his praise with portrayals
of celibate men and women who were fearful, untrustworthy and effeminate"
Tragedy, The; Sexuality;
Howells, W. D. “Charles Kingsley’s Hypatia,”
in Heroines of Fiction Vol. II (New York and London: Harper &
Brothers, 1901): 1-13.
Howells examines the novel Hypatia and concludes that it was
not an artistic success. Though capable of writing a greater work
about fifth century Alexandria, Kingsley failed in his attempt mainly due
to the weak representation of Hypatia herself, an unattractive and “rather
repellent” character (6). Howells considers Kingsley’s novel to be
on a far higher plane than Bulwer Lytton’s The Last Days of Pompeii,
yet falls below it in artistic effect. While Bulwer was at least
a melodramatist, “Kingsley was no dramatist at all, but an exalted moralist
willing to borrow the theatre for the ends of the church. If we realize
this we shall understand why his figures seem to have come out of the property-room
by way of the vestry” (8). Howells praises Alton Locke for
its potent protest against aspects of society’s injustices, yet criticizes
it on artistic grounds as being excessively polemical.
in Novels; Reception of Kingsley's Works;
Lackey, Lionel. “Kingsley’s Hypatia: Foes
Ever New,” The Victorian Newsletter No. 87 (Spring 1995): 1-4.
Lackey examines the theme and structure of Hypatia. The
novel’s pejorative depiction of many aspects of the early Church was met
with much disfavor by many religiously conservative critics. Though
the novel’s ostensible thesis, according to Lackey, is that the early Church
despite its faults was better than the atheism it replaced, the true thesis
is that this Church’s bigotry, persecution, and violence are far from real
Christianity. Lackey ends by suggesting that a consideration of Kingsley’s
views may still be relevant in today’s complex civilization; he “poses
an alternative to the poles of a destructive Christianity and a soulless
and Political Views.
Lankewish, Vincent A. “Love Among the Ruins:
The Catacombs, the Closet, and the Victorian ‘Early Christian’ Novel,”
Literature and Culture Vol. 28, No. 2 (Sept 2000): 239-273.
Lankewish considers the Newman-Kingsley debate in the context of Kingsley's
antipathy to what he perceived as Catholics' unnatural attitude toward
sex, especially the Tractarian and Catholic depiction of Christ as spouse,
and their embrace of celibacy which Kingsley frequently regarded as effeminacy.
Kingsley, declares Lankewish, believed that it was only through such relations
as marriage, parenthood, and family that God could be truly known.
Lankewish also discusses Newman's possible homosexuality and Kingsley's
attitude to it. He argues that a consideration of the sexual context
of the Newman-Kingsley dispute provides a useful background to the study
of the Victorian Early Christian novel. He contends, in particular, "that
the Hypatia/Callista conflict not only anticipated the theological
debate that erupted between Kingsley and Newman in 1864, but foreshadowed
the gender and sexual tensions inherent within that debate as well.
Through the representation of the spiritual marriages between Christians
and Christ that Kingsley found so deplorable, Early Christian novels by
Wiseman, Newman, and Pater coopt the genre and transform it into a charged
site for the articulation of sexual difference and, most specifically in
Pater's case, of male-male desire" (252).
Litvack, Leon B. “Callista, Martyrdom,
and the Early Christian Novel in the Victorian Age,” Nineteenth-Century
Contexts Vol. 17, No. 2 (1993): 159-173.
A primary goal of Hypatia, or, New Foes with an Old Face, according
to Litvack, was to question deeply held Roman Catholic principles and views
of history of such as Newman and Wiseman, authors themselves of martyrological
historical novels Callista (1855) and Fabiola (1854) respectively.
Kingsley throughout Hypatia, written in the early days of his growing
antagonism to Newman, disparages aspects of the Patristic age and especially
the 5th century when Christianity was the state religion. By depicting
the 5th century Church as corrupt and tyrannical, Kingsley was attacking
the contemporary English Roman Catholic Church which was rapidly growing
in influence. “Kingsley enjoins his readers to look to themselves
for justification – not to the past, in which he finds little support for
his faith” (165).
Maynard, John. “Victorian Discourses on Sexuality
and Religion,” University of Hartford Studies in Literature Vol.
19, Nos 2 & 3 (1987): 61-69.
For Kingsley, according to Maynard, religion and sexuality are thoroughly
intermingled. His dislike of Newman stemmed in large part from his
strong aversion to religious celibacy. However, all forms of sexual
license for Kingsley was anathema.. The proper place for sexuality
was within marriage, with only one marriage in a lifetime. “Celibacy
is religion without sex; licentiousness, sex without religion. The
via media for Kingsley, married religious sexuality, allows one unified
discourse: married sexuality repairs the Fall and leads us from earth to
heaven, which is only more – and more intensely – of the same” (63).
Kingsley also depicts competing types of sexuality in certain of his writings.
For example, in Hypatia the struggle between the intellectual views
of different religious groups in 5th century Alexandria may be seen as
just as much a competition of opposite sexual styles. Similarly,
Ho! may be understood from the standpoint of opposite sexual religious
world views as the conflict “between chaste, successful Protestants and
lewd, unsuccessful Spanish Catholics” (64).
McAlpin, Edwin A. "The Conflict Between Theology
and Spirituality. Hypatia, by Kingsley," Old and New Books as
Life Teachers (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran, 1928): 109-124.
After briefly sketching several other of Kingsley’s novels, McAlpin
provides a longer though not very substantive account of Hypatia.
“Without defining his conviction in words Kingsley indicates in the experience
of Raphael Aben-Ezra the supreme importance of Christianity as a life rather
than as a set of theological doctrines and dogmas” (121-22).
Prickett, Stephen. “Purging Christianity of its
Semitic Origins: Kingsley, Arnold and the Bible,” in Juliet John and Alice
Jenkins (eds.). Rethinking Victorian Culture (London: Macmillan,
Prickett examines the role of pagan civilization and the Church in
Kingsley is favorable to neither. Rather, his theory of history leads
him to admire the Teutonic races who are civilization’s future. The
Catholicism of fourth-century Alexandria is as doomed as the pagan world
it supplanted. It is merely a proto-Christianity that is “saved only
by the presence within it of certain forward-looking characters who dimly
foreshadow, as it were, the coming age of Teutonic Protestantism a thousand
years in the future” (68-9).
Scott, Patrick. "Charles Kingsley," in Dictionary
of Literary Biography, Volume 21. Victorian Novelists Before
1885. Edited by Ira B. Nadel and William E. Fredeman (Detroit: Gale,
This follows the usual format of the DLB. A bibliography
of Kingsley’s own works is followed by an account of his life interspersed
with an analysis of his major writings, in this case his novels.
A short secondary bibliography is appended. Several illustrations
are also provided. Scott sums up Kingsley the novelist as follows:
‘If Kingsley never wrote a great work or an unflawed masterpiece, he can
now, in light of the new biographical evidence, be recognized as a writer
of considerable psychological complexity, one who produced searching and
imaginative responses to some of the central issues of the late 1840s”
Ho!; Two Years Ago; Hypatia;
Smith, Sheila, and Peter Denman. “Mid-Victorian Novelists,”
in Arthur Pollard (ed.) The Victorians (New York: Peter Bedrick,
1987, c. 1970): 239-285.
Smith and Denman survey Kingsley’s novels. Yeast and Alton
Locke are his best. Yeast was the first novel devoted
to the notion that unsanitary conditions and disease existed in the countryside
as well as in the towns and cities. A “courageous” novel, it also
provided some indication “of the sexual squalor of the poor” (254, 253).
Though radical views are expressed in the novel, Smith and Denman declare
that Kingsley did not believe in democracy. “In his novels, as in
Disraeli’s, the independence of the lower orders must be achieved within
the existing class-structure” (255). Though Alton Locke has
powerful scenes, its propaganda takes precedence over the novel and its
Two Years Ago has some good scenes, it is a “long-winded
novel” (260). Smith and Denman have little positive to say of Hypatia
and Westward Ho!, but state that The Water-Babies is Kingsley’s
“most attractive book” (260). “Charles Kingsley is a minor novelist,
but in Yeast, Alton Locke and Two Years Ago he helped to
extend the novel’s subject matter, and to make it more serious, more concerned
with reality. He saw God, Heaven and Hell in human terms. This
was an asset to him as a novelist, and gave substance to his novels” (261).
Locke; Two Years Ago; Hypatia;
Ho!; Social and Political
Vance, Norman. The Sinews of the Spirit: The
Ideal of Christian Manliness in Victorian Literature and Religious Thought
Cambridge University Press, 1985).
Vance devotes two chapters to Kingsley's life, thought, and literary
works paying particular attention to themes of the relationship of manliness
to religion in his novels. "Christian manliness was not just an ideal
in Kingsley's fiction, it was the basis of his practical work as pastor,
teacher and reformer and the essence of his life and experience" (107).
Ho!; Two Years Ago; Hereward
the Wake; Muscular Christianity;
Wolff, Robert Lee. Gains and Losses: Novels
of Faith and Doubt in Victorian England (New York and London: Garland,
Wolff praises Hypatia’s “vivid and engaging prose style”, its
historical authenticity, the depiction of Hypatia, and its readability.
He writes that Kingsley had two main intentions in writing the novel. He
was criticizing Transcendentalism, held by Emerson and others, wishing
“to illustrate the dangers of the intellectual arrogance which falsely
persuaded individual human beings that they could seek and find their own
deity, ignoring the Church and religious tradition” (274). Also,
suspicious of the intellect and believing that the only path to faith was
through emotional commitment, Kingsley was attacking the Tractarians and
converts like Newman whom he held were “groping in the dead past for outworn
dogmas and practices” (275).