Social and Political Novel
Baker, Ernest Albert. The History of the English Novel. Vol. VIII (New York: Barnes and Noble; first published 1937): 161-176.
Baker provides a brief overview of Kingsley's novels, discussing their major themes and the context of the times in which they were written especially the period of the Crimean war.

Novels; Social and Political Novel; Crimean War.

Brantlinger, Patrick, “Bluebooks, the Social Organism, and the Victorian Novel,” Criticism: A Quarterly for Literature and the Arts Vol. XIV, No. 4 (Fall 1972): 328-344.
Brantlinger discusses how several early Victorian writers were influenced by parliamentary bluebooks and other official and social investigations.  He briefly refers to the example of Lancelot, hero of Kingsley’s Yeast who immersed himself in a plethora of bluebooks and other reports in his examination of the ‘Condition-of-the-Poor question'.  It was partly though the study of such reports that Lancelot's social conscience was stirred.

Bluebooks; Yeast; Social and Political Novel.

Brunskill, F. R.  “Charles Kingsley's Social Philosophy,” Primitive Methodist Quarterly Review Vol. 25 (April 1903): 340-349.
Brunskill gives an ornate account of Kingsley’s work on behalf of the poor and less privileged and discusses his social and political views.

Social and Political Views; Social and Political Novel.

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, Yeast (1848), Alton Locke, Tailor and Poet (1850), Hypatia (1853), and Two Years 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.

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.

Alton Locke; Religion; Chartism; Social and Political Novel.

Courtney, Janet E.  “Charles Kingsley,” Fortnightly Review Vol. 105 (Jan-June 1919): 949-957.
In the centenary year of Kingsley’s birth Courtney offers a brief general outline of the author’s life and principal works.  She praises Kingsley’s historical novels for their readability though acknowledging the presence of many didactic passages.  She criticizes, however, the modern novels, i.e. Yeast, Two Years Ago, and Alton Locke for their old-fashionedness.  Their chief merit lies in their treatment of social questions rather in their literary skill.  On the other hand, Courtney lauds the children’s stories for their charm and ability to delight. Courtney also discusses the somewhat overlooked study of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, The Saint’s Tragedy (1848).  Though stressing the great interest and attention Kingsley paid to this early work, Courtney criticizes its pervasive didacticism.  “It is a sermon against monkishness and in praise of wedded love, more interesting to read, no doubt, than Kingsley’s sermons strictly so-called, but it does not differ from them essentially” (954).

Overview; Saint’s Tragedy, The; Social and Political Novel.

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.

Alton Locke; Chartism; Social and Political Novel; Social and Political Views; Cambridge University; Characterization in Novels.

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).

Alton Locke; Chartism; Christian Socialism; Social and Political Views; Social and Political Novel.

Gottlieb, Evan M. "Charles Kingsley, the Romantic Legacy, and the Unmaking of the Working-Class Intellectual," Victorian Literature and Culture (VLC) Vol 29, No. 1 (2001): 51-65.
Gottlieb provides an interpretation of Alton Locke that is dissimilar to many other treatments of the industrial novel in general and Kinglsey's novel in particular.  He argues that Alton Locke and the representation of the working-class poet are "safely apolitical" and in fact serve the interests of the middle classes.  The prevailing views of the narrator and novel succeed, in fact, in espousing middle-class values more than the concerns of the working classes.  "The ideological work of Alton Locke is to reassure its middle-class readers that it is not possible for a working-class person to be an intellectual and remain loyal to his class" (63).  The novel, in short, reassures middle-class readers who may be fearful of a workers' revolution.

Alton Locke; Social and Political Views; Social and Political Novel; Romantic Poets; Political thought, Influences on his

Kettle, Arnold.  “The Early Victorian Social-Problem Novel,” in Boris Ford (ed.) From Dickens to Hardy: A Guide to English Literature Vol. 6. 2nd ed. (London: Cassell, 1966; this ed. first published 1963): 169-187.
Yeast, according to Kettle, is a combination of Mrs. Gaskell’s naturalistic style and some of the more mystical and romantic aspects of Disraeli’s.  Though it is often categorized as a religious novel, its social rather than its religious message was responsible for its contemporary objectionable reputation.  Kettle considers Alton Locke to be a better novel than Yeast.  He praises especially its treatment of social problems and the horrendous work conditions suffered by the tailors in their sweat-shops.  Though it is clearly a “propaganda novel”, it is more than that.  “Alton Locke, for all its crudities and ‘dated’ quality, for all its lack of the sort of art and intelligence one associates with those writers conscious of ‘the novel as an art form', can still move us today” (184).

Social and Political Novel; Yeast; Alton Locke; Social and Political Views.

Kijinski, John L. “Charles Kingsley's Yeast: Brotherhood and the Condition of England,” VIJ: Victorians Institute Journal Vol. 13 (1985): 97-109.
In his analysis of the novel Yeast Kijinski declares that the novel despite its "bland didacticism" is very representative of the period, the hungry forties.  He argues that the novel also provides a strong insight into a commonly held ideological stance of the time, namely that the growing antipathy between the haves and the have-nots might be improved without force, unions, redistribution of wealth if only all social classes acted sympathetically and humanely in the true belief that everyone is a member of the same common family.

Yeast; Social and Political Novel; Social and Political Views; Catholicism.

Stoddard, Francis Hovey.  The Evolution of the English Novel (London: Macmillan, 1909; first published 1900).
In his examination of the English novel of purpose, Stoddard declares that Yeast and Alton Locke are slighter and less important than Mrs. Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the problem of slavery being far more serious than the social, industrial and political questions dealt with by Kingsley.  Nevertheless, the latter’s novels were influential in highlighting these questions and in so doing “notably advanced the cause of freedom” in England (174).

Social and Political Novel; Yeast; Alton Locke.

Williams, A. R. "Alton Locke by Charles Kingsley (1850)," East London Papers Vol. 13 (Summer 1970): 36-40.
Williams counts Kingsley among those Victorian writers who sought to reveal in their works society’s evils to indifferent and oblivious middle and upper classes.  In particular, Alton Locke is important for “historians of London’s East End because it portrays vividly and, as far as one can tell, reliably, the conditions of the sweated tailors of this district in the middle of the nineteenth century” (37).  Williams sees Kingsley as more than just a depicter of societal problems.  As a solution Kingsley advocated three prongs of attack: the masses’ self-improvement through education, organization in trade unions, and governmental reform.

Social and Political Novel; Alton Locke; Social and Political Views.

Williams, Raymond.  Culture and Society 1780-1950 (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1977; first published 1958).
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).

Alton Locke; Social and Political Novel; Chartism.


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