Byrom, Thomas.  “Introduction” to Charles Kingsley, Alton Locke: Tailor and Poet (London: Dent 1970): v-xi.
Byrom considers Alton Locke to be an ambiguous and confusing novel.  Kingsley is ambivalent about violence.  While he clearly sides with Alton and the notion of a fighting working class, he also agrees with the orderly and conservative ideals of an aristocracy enlightened by the Church.  Kingsley is surprising in leaving Catholicism relatively untouched; rather it is the dissenters, especially the Baptists, who receive a harsh criticism.  Also, the Tractarians are criticized as is Transcendentalism which Bryom considers Kingsley failed to understand properly.  Unlike Yeast which suffered from an excessive authorial presence, the autobiographical mode of Alton Locke results in a work more a novel than a tract.  Bryom concludes that Alton Locke, though entertaining, “is only a fitful success.  Reading it is rather like watching a film in which much of the footage is out of focus” (ix).  Though it is primarily to be considered a failure when compared to the works of Dickens, this is instructive.  “Alton Locke was written when English fiction enjoyed its greatest moment, and without it we should have a harder time understanding the achievement of Dickens, who in so many respects shared the conservative, reforming, doubting, bitter, compassionate sensibility of the stuttering Rector of Eversley” (x).

Alton Locke; Dissent; Transcendentalism; Dickens; Social and Political Views.

Harris, Wendell V.  “Fiction and Metaphysics in the Nineteenth Century,” in R. G. Collins (ed.) The Novel and its Changing Form (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1972): 59-71.
Harris discusses Yeast and Alton Locke labelling Kingsley together with Disraeli “the most interesting examples of nineteenth-century novelists operating within the transcendental tradition” (62).

Yeast; Alton Locke; Transcendentalism.

Wolff, Robert Lee.  Gains and Losses: Novels of Faith and Doubt in Victorian England (New York and London: Garland, 1977).
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).

Hypatia; Emerson; Transcendentalism; Catholicism; Celibacy.

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