19th century in literature  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

(Redirected from 19th century literature)
Jump to: navigation, search
Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821 – 1881)  Illustration: A Th. Dostoiewski (1895) by Félix Vallotton
Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821 – 1881)
Illustration: A Th. Dostoiewski (1895) by Félix Vallotton

"I dare say […] that Byron and de Sade […] have been perhaps the two greatest inspirations of our moderns, one openly and visibly, the other clandestine - though not too clandestine."--Sainte-Beuve, 1843, tr. Geerinck

“I am not only talking of the deplorable results produced by the reading of these ignoble novels, but of the influence that they have had on the entire literature of the nineteenth-century, Hugo in Notre-Dame de Paris, Jules Janin in The Dead Ass, Théophile Gautier in Mademoiselle de Maupin, Madame Sand, E. Süe, de Musset, and Dumas in his Théâtre, all are the offspring of Sade, all of them sprinkle a morsel of his debauch in their productions”--Mémoires du comte Horace de Viel-Castel sur le règne de Napoléon III (1851-1864)

"Looked at from this point of view, the literature of the nineteenth century appears as a unique, clearly distinct whole, which the various formulas such as ‘romanticism', ‘realism’, ‘decadence,’ &c., tend to disrupt. In no other literary period, I think, has sex been so obviously the mainspring of works of imagination."--p.xv--The Romantic Agony (1930) by Mario Praz, unidentified English introduction

"The Europeans (2019) interweaves rail transport, the diffusion of cultural products, the histories of copyright, mechanical reproduction, tourism, 19th century literature, art and music with the personal lives of operatic star Pauline Viardot, her husband Louis Viardot and her lover Ivan Turgenev to sketch a remarkably lively portrait of 19th century Europe."--Sholem Stein

Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849) is an icon of 19th century literature
Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849) is an icon of 19th century literature
Charles Baudelaire (1821 – 1867) (portrait by Etienne Carjat, ca. 1863)
Charles Baudelaire (1821 – 1867) (portrait by Etienne Carjat, ca. 1863)

Related e



The 19th century was perhaps the most literary of all centuries, because not only were the forms of novel, short story and magazine serial all in existence side-by-side with theatre and opera, but since film, radio and television did not yet exist, the popularity of the written word and its direct enactment were at their height. Major trends included Romanticism, the Decadent movement, Naturalism, Realism and Symbolist literature.

An excellent public domain overview of 19th century literature is found in Danish critic Georg Brandes's Main Currents in Nineteenth Century Literature.


Short overview

Literature of the 19th century refers to world literature produced during the 19th century. The range of years is, for the purpose of this article, literature written from (roughly) 1799 to 1900. Many of the developments in literature in this period parallel changes in the visual arts and other aspects of 19th century culture.

In Germany, the Sturm und Drang period of the late 18th century merges into a Classicist and Romantic period, epitomized by the long era of Goethe's activity, covering the first third of the century. The conservative Biedermeier style conflicts with the radical Vormärz in the turbulent period separating the end of the Napoleonic wars from the Revolutions of 1848.

In Britain, the 19th century is dominated by the Victorian era, characterized by Romanticism, with Romantic poets such as William Wordsworth, Lord Byron or Samuel Taylor Coleridge and genres such as the gothic novel and the fashionable novel.

In the later 19th century, Romanticism is countered by Realism and Naturalism. The late 19th century, known as the Belle Époque, with its Fin de siècle retrospectively appeared as a "golden age" of European culture, cut short by the outbreak of World War I in 1914.


The Crimes of Love (1800) - The Devil's Elixir (1815/16) - The Sandman (1817) - Frankenstein (1818) - Confessions of an English Opium Eater (1821) - Histoire de ma vie (1822) - The Lustful Turk (1828) - The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831) - Le Rouge et le Noir (1831) - Gamiani (1833) - Viy (1835) - The Devil's Memoirs (1838) - Histoires extraordinaires (1840s) - Bartleby the Scrivener (1853) - Les Fleurs du mal (1857) - Madame Bovary (1857) - On Wine and Hashish (1851) - Artificial Paradises (1860) - Salammbô (1862) - The Painter of Modern Life (1863) - Notes from Underground (1864) - Le Spleen de Paris (1869) - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) - Venus in Furs (1870) - Carmilla (1872) - The Temptation of Saint Anthony (1874) - Les Diaboliques (The She-Devils) (1874) - Anna Karenina (1877) - Index Librorum Prohibitorum (1877) - Flatland (1884) - À rebours (1884) - The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) - Psychopathia Sexualis (1886) - The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) - La Bête humaine (1890) - Hunger (1890) - New Grub Street (1891) - The Yellow Wallpaper (1892) - Jude the Obscure (1895) - The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896) - Dracula (1897) - The She Devils (1898) - The Torture Garden (1899)

By language

Printing industry

printing industry

Paper remained relatively expensive through the centuries, until the advent of steam-driven paper making machines in the 19th century, which could make paper with wood pulp. Although older machines predated it, the Fourdrinier paper making machine became the basis for most modern papermaking. Together with the invention of the practical fountain pen and the mass produced pencil of the same period, and in conjunction with the advent of the steam driven rotary printing press, wood based paper caused a major transformation of the 19th century economy and society in industrialized countries. With the introduction of cheaper paper, schoolbooks, fiction, non-fiction, and newspapers became gradually available to all the members of an industrial society by 1900. Cheap wood based paper also meant that keeping personal diaries or writing letters became universal. The clerk, or writer, ceased to be a high-status job, and by 1850 had nearly become an office worker or white-collar worker , which transformation can be considered as a part of the industrial revolution.

Unfortunately, the original wood-based paper was more acidic and more prone to disintegrate over time, through processes known as slow fires. Documents written on more expensive rag paper were more stable. Mass-market paperback books still use these cheaper mechanical papers (see below), but the more careful book publishers now use acid-free paper for hardback and trade paperback books.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "19th century in literature" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools