Fasick, Laura Books
About the author: Laura Fasick obtained her BA in English from the University of Toronto and her PhD in English from Indiana University at Bloomington. She is currently Professor of English at Minnesota State University Moorhead in Moorhead, Minnesota. Her first book, Vessels of Meaning: Women’s Bodies, Gender Norms, and Class Bias from Richardson to Lawrence was published in 1997 by Northern Illinois University Press. She has also published numerous articles on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature.2003 0-7734-6716-5
This study examines the ethos of intellectual work for men in a set of novels strongly influenced by Thomas Carlyle, the Victorian Age’s prime proponent of work. It questions the longstanding tradition of regarding the 19th century as a time when a stern work ethic flourished in successful opposition to gentler, female-identified values of domesticity and nurture. This book argues that an over-emphasis on domesticity as the source of virtue and happiness led to a devaluation of the satisfactions to be found in intellectual and vocational arenas separate from domestic life. Novels ranging from David Copperfield, Our Mutual Friend, Great Expectations, Pendennis, Two Years Ago, Wives and Daughters, Alton Locke, and Middlemarch show how profoundly even writers deeply influenced by Carlyle’s theories about work altered those theories as they dramatized them in their fiction. In their ambivalence about the value of intellectual and vocational satisfaction and in their inclination to portray human relationships as the be-all and end-all of human fulfillment, these novelists show conflicts that continue to haunt us today.