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Catholic Sensationalism and Victorian Literature$
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Maureen Moran

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9781846310706

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846312762

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Feeling the Great Change: Conversion and the Authority of Affect

Feeling the Great Change: Conversion and the Authority of Affect

Benjamin Disraeli's Lothair, J. H. Shorthouse's John Inglesant and Mary Ward's Helbeck of Bannisdale

(p.177) 4 Feeling the Great Change: Conversion and the Authority of Affect
Catholic Sensationalism and Victorian Literature
Liverpool University Press

This chapter analyzes three best-selling novels from the later Victorian period — Lothair (1870) by Benjamin Disraeli, John Inglesant (1880) by Joseph Henry Shorthouse, and Helbeck of Bannisdale (1898) by Mary Ward — explaining how, in the last three decades of the century, emotionalized representations of Catholic conversion provide an imaginative structure for exploring the hidden forces that shape personality and determine belief and action. The sensational dimension of these novels is the secretive scheming by Catholics to secure converts, which shows how emotional impulses can beguile and delude the individual. The tale of Catholic conversion provides opportunities to explore modern perspectives on the authority of emotion and the power of buried cravings by focusing on the manipulation of unconscious desire and the unreliability of tender feelings.

Keywords:   Catholic conversion, sensational dimension, personality, Benjamin Disraeli, Joseph Henry Shorthouse, Mary Ward

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