I’ve always wondered just what books I ought to be ashamed not to have read as a Victorianist. There are some obvious ones (which I’m not going to share in this space), but do I have to feel guilty about not having read Barchester Towers? I’ve got several tabs open of the lists Maggie linked to in the last post, so here’s what seems to be the consensus of the utterly canonical works for Victorian fiction and non-fiction prose:

Matthew Arnold, Culture and Anarchy

Jane Austen (one or two)

Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Lady Audley’s Secret (every single list seemed to have this)

Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus

Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone

Charles Dickens, Bleak House, Great Expectations

George Eliot, Middlemarch

Elizabeth Gaskell, (one novel)

Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d’Urbervilles

John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, The Subjection of Women

Walter Pater, The Renaissance

John Ruskin, (whatever tends to get anthologized)

Olive Schreiner, The Story of an African Farm (I was a bit surprised that it featured on so many lists)

Bram Stoker, Dracula

William Makepeace Thackaray, Vanity Fair

Anthony Trollope, The Way We Live Now

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

I’ve excluded poetry not just to spite Anne, but because I feel like it’s easier to grasp what’s super-canonical by reading anthologies. Any surprising omissions or inclusions? I’m feeling a bit less guilty that I haven’t read Barchester Towers, although that was pretty close to making it to this short list.


Advertisements