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Dressed in Fiction – Clair Hughes

Dressed in Fiction – Clair Hughes

I am not sure where I first heard about this book, but I bought a second hand copy from Abe books (it’s probably a second because the first chapter is in backwards!).

Here’s the blurb …

When we look closely at dress in a novel we begin to enrich our sense of the novel’s historical and social context. More than this, wealth, class, beauty and moral rectitude can all be coded in fabric. In the modern novel, narratives are increasingly situated within the consciousness of characters, and it is the experience of dress that tells us about the context and the emotional, political and psychological values of the characters. Dressed in Fiction traces the deployment of dress in key fictional texts of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, from Daniel Defoe’s Roxana to George Eliot’s Middlemarch and Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth. Covering a range of topics, from the growth of the middle classes and the association of luxury with vice, to the reasons why wedding dresses rarely ever symbolize happiness, the book presents a unique study of the history of clothing through the most popular and influential literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

This book (non-fiction) is the intersection of literature and fashion history. I found it fascinating and very readable. I haven’t read Daniel Defoe so that chapter didn’t appeal to me as much as the others, I particularly enjoyed the ones on Middlemarch and House of Mirth. I now want to go back and (re)read these novels.

If you enjoy Victorian literature and fashion, then you will enjoy this book.

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Filed under 4, Non-Fiction, Serious