By Talia Schaffer
Household handicraft was once an awfully well known relaxation task in Victorian Britain, specially among middle-class girls. Craftswomen pasted shells onto containers, stitched fish scales onto silk, scorched styles into wooden, forged flower petals out of wax, and made needlework photos of the royal spaniels. but regardless of its ubiquity, little has been written approximately this curious pastime. delivering a much-needed background of this under-studied phenomenon, Talia Schaffer demonstrates the significance of family handicraft in Victorian literature and tradition. Novel Craft provides what Schaffer phrases the "craft paradigm" -- a collection of ideals approximately illustration, construction, intake, price, and sweetness that have been the most important to mid-Victorian idea. She uncovers how handicrafts expressed anxieties approximately modernity and provided an alternative choice to the normal monetary, political, and aesthetic rules of the period. Novel Craft finds how this approach evolves in 4 significant Victorian novels: Gaskell's Cranford, Yonge's The Daisy Chain, Dickens's Our Mutual good friend, and Oliphant's Phoebe Junior. every one bankruptcy facilities on a scene of craft construction that expresses the novel's beliefs and in addition interrogates the unconventional itself as a kind of craft, and every bankruptcy highlights an influential craft style: paper crafts, pressed plant life, knitting, and hair jewellery. The ebook closes with a coda at the present resurgent crafts circulation of Etsy.com as a clean model of a Victorian sensibility. that includes illustrations from centuries of household handicraft, Schaffer deftly combines cultural background and literary analyses to create a revealing portrait of a ignored a part of nineteenth-century existence and highlights its carrying on with relevance in cutting-edge global of Martha Stewart, women's journal crafts, and a quickly increasing alt craft tradition.
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Extra resources for Novel Craft: Victorian Domestic Handicraft and Nineteenth-Century Fiction
In the early nineteenth century, it must have seemed as if mass production was a small island poking up through an ocean of homemade handicraft. Over the decades, however, that island accreted more and more land. Virtually everything that had once been made at home could now be bought. The mass production realm spread out, surrounded that water; it became a lake, then just a pool. Eventually, one just heard its melancholy long withdrawing roar. In this case, it was not the sound of faith, but the noise of melting, bubbling paraﬃn wax—the sound of increasingly unlikely and desperate craft, striving to ﬂow back to its previous fullness.
Handicraft allows writers to work through a vision of themselves as makers: crafters of an item that might not survive, whose value is unﬁxed, whose circulation is uncontrollable, whose existence depends on worrisomely cheap and fragile materials, and whose reception is determined by the audience’s sentiment. Handicraft helps writers imagine scenes of craft production in which they work out the values governing their own text. Gaskell, Dickens, Yonge, and Oliphant eschew the idea that they are generating abstract commodities for global circulation.
And in lieu of paper, The Daisy Chain, as its name implies, foregrounds preserved horticulture: dried ﬂora, leaves cut out of leather. Interestingly, just as the characters transform living leaves into pasted artifacts, so, too, do they work to transform “wild” Irish or Melanesian subjects into decorous drawing room specimens. These missionary characters exert skills learned from middle-class domestic labor over a population imagined as unruly invaders of domestic order. In other words, by using the vocabulary and logic of domestic ornamentation, Yonge elaborates a particular model of colonial mastery—and a model 24 Novel Craft that oﬀers an unusual idea of racial essentialism and philanthropic labor.
Novel Craft: Victorian Domestic Handicraft and Nineteenth-Century Fiction by Talia Schaffer