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Although there was a steady decline in established religious belief during the Victorian era, many reformers saw socialism and Christianity as one and the same thing, as in the Labour Church Movement, which was largely confined to the North. Many joined the English Revolutionary Society, which met in Soho pubs, and others became members of the Social Democratic Federation as it came to adopt a Marxist programme for change. Bloom cautiously reminds us that all these socialist groups never numbered more than a few dozen to a few hundred members, although at any one time they could call upon thousands of supporters when civil liberties were attacked or demands were made for parliamentary reform.

Victoria's Madmen: Revolution and Alienation - C. Bloom - Google книги

Some sought a simpler life, a place where the self could flourish in natural surroundings. Shaw, unlike Carpenter, also embraced sexual abstinence as healthier and more fitting for his new lifestyle. The emphasis on the body beautiful, outdoor life and natural health encouraged the flourishing of a number of organisations including, in the early 20th century, the Sunlight League.

It advocated sunbathing, which had been regarded with horror in the previous century. This richly diverse book contains a number of gems, but at times the canvas is too broad. The inclusion of Mabel Barltrop, who came to believe that she was a female messiah and who founded the Panacea Society in Bedford after the First World War, sits oddly among the long list of cranks and radicals.

Victoria’s Madmen

And while Sylvia Pankhurst is praised for her embracement not only of feminism but also atheism, anti-imperialism, socialism, internationalism and anti-fascism, Bloom fails to mention that in 19 she became, by choice, a single mother — something considered scandalous at the time. Consideration of such gender issues might have made the author more sensitive to the title of his book — are the lives of women mad or otherwise to be assumed under those of men?

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    September 5, Share on twitter Share on facebook Share on linkedin Share on whatsapp Share on mail. The Sunlight League advocated sunbathing, which had been regarded with horror in the previous century For some reformers, such as Annie Besant, the divorced wife of an Anglican clergyman who lost her Christian faith, other spiritual avenues were attractive.

    Victoria’s Madmen: Revolution and Alienation, by Clive Bloom

    Please login or register to read this article. Register to continue Get a month's unlimited access to THE content online. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus: Sign up for the editor's highlights Receive World University Rankings news first Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches Participate in reader discussions and post comments Register. This is an effective way of demonstrating, and not just stating, that eras are not sharply defined. By the last few chapters, Bloom is well in to the 20th century but his organising principle is thematic rather than chronological, allowing him to identify communities and correspondences across time.

    Consequently, certain figures also appear and reappear in different contexts. Here is the social reformer and theosophist Annie Besant in chapter eight, embroiled in socialist politics; here she is again in chapter 11, defending Jewish immigrants; and again five chapters later, becoming a vegetarian. The Fabians and founders of this magazine, Beatrice and Sidney Webb, turn up similarly often although, curiously, the only mention of the NS is in relation to its early support for nudism.

    Bloom is a professor of English and American studies at Middlesex University and he balances historical research with well-judged readings of literary texts. Unfortunately, some of his research is hidden in sentences so labyrinthine that I found myself lost in a subclause even on a third reading.

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    Spiritualism, the subject of one chapter and mentioned in several others, was hardly a fringe movement: as Bloom describes, it had a huge following, including Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the physicist William Crookes. Not all the case studies work as exemplars of personal alienation or social revolution — which becomes a problem only when Bloom resorts to semi-Freudian generalities to shoehorn them into one category or both.

    Yet even if some of the lives and beliefs he describes are not quite what he wants them to be, they all contribute to creating a 19th century wilder and richer, at once closer to us and more distant, than the one we usually encounter. Related articles. Rebecca Solnit and the museum of misogyny. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett is a gripping examination of what makes a home.