Parliament and the State

Lauren M E Goodlad

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter examines the nineteenth-century parliamentary novel. It shows that in treating Parliament and the political process as the fulcrum of Britain's ‘condition’, parliamentary novels both did and did not conform to the pattern of ‘social problem’ literature more generally. While industrial and political narratives could overlap, as in Disraeli's Sybil, or The Two Nations (1845), the two genres could also diverge. For while Condition of England fiction meditated on the nation's social body in the charged decades of the 1840s and 1850s, the parliamentary fiction explored its political constitution — and continued to do so throughout the century's successive reforms. ‘Constitution’ refers to those historical but still-evolving establishments that contemporaries took to be the pillars of British political life: the Crown, the two Houses of Parliament, the franchise, the Church of England, and (with varying degrees of emphasis) the empire.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford History of the Novel in English
Subtitle of host publicationThe Nineteenth-Century Novel 1820-1880
EditorsJohn Kucich, Jenny Bourne Taylor
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780199560615
StatePublished - 2012


  • Victorian fiction
  • British novels
  • parliament
  • state
  • social problem literature
  • parliamentary novels
  • political constitution
  • British political life


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