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: Readers and teachers of Victorian fiction make many assumptions about realism, characterization and gender stereotypes, about sensationalism and social criticism. This collection aims to bring the reader to a more thorough understanding of the significance of these factors and other issues, in the early and mid-Victorian novel. The introductions and notes are designed to make this book an accessible guide to mid-Victorian attitudes and theories. Extracts from contemporary criticism are reprinted, covering a considerable diversity of subjects, with the purpose of suggesting what the educated Victorian regarded as important literary issues of the day. The low esteem in which post-Jamesian critics of the 1890s and later held early and mid-Victorian criticism, accompanies a turning-away from social and political aspects of the novel, such as the social origins of fiction, the expansion of the reading public, and speculation on the determination of fictional form and content by social and economic factors. Such concerns were supplanted by technical questions of structure and a narrative point of view, and by theories of art as the production of a creator.