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Walter BesantThe Business of Literature and the Pleasures of Reform$
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Kevin A. Morrison

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781789620351

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789620351.001.0001

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The Ethics of Perception and the Politics of Recognition

The Ethics of Perception and the Politics of Recognition

Walter Besant’s All Sorts and Conditions of Men

(p.171) Chapter Nine The Ethics of Perception and the Politics of Recognition
Walter Besant

Kevin Swafford

Liverpool University Press

In All Sorts and Conditions of Men Walter Besant focuses his novelistic gaze on what he perceived as the neglected “romance” and “possibilities” of the East End of London (as opposed to its more horrific and tragic realities), and famously forwarded a utopian, “cultural solution” to the apparently mind-numbing monotony of East End existence. What is generally missed in the critical approaches to All Sorts and Conditions of Men are the subtle ways in which Besant’s socio-cultural “focus” (the respectable, but dull and neglected East End) and “solution” (cultural philanthropy and paternalistic economic relations) reflect Besant’s attempt to work through and elaborate a kind of relational and perspectival ethics through the generic hybridity (and perhaps, ultimately, limitations) of an “urban romance.”

Keywords:   Walter Besant, All Sorts and Conditions of Men, Fiction, nineteenth century, Social classes, Ethics, Recognition, East London, England, Romance, Culture

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