AbstractThe popularity of nineteenth-century horse racing is firmly established. Throughout the century it provided entertainment, amusement and employment across all the classes. Most scholarship focuses on horse racing in terms of leisure and the negotiation of class values, noting the shift from the sport as a predominantly aristocratic playground in the early part of the nineteenth century, to the commercialised arena of entertainment it became towards the end of the Victorian era. What is unexplored by both historical and literary critics however is the representation of horse racing in nineteenth-century literature. This dissertation attempts to fill that void. The carnival values of the racecourse, horse racing’s shift towards commercialism, concepts of class defined leisure and the sports inevitable association with gambling are all scrutinised with reference to both the historical context of horse racing and their inclusion in nineteenth-century fiction. George Moore’s Esther Waters, Émile Zola’s Nana and Charles Dickens’s Nicholas Nickleby, The Old Curiosity Shop and ‘The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices’ are all closely analysed in terms of their representation of the racecourse carnival, racecourse space and infrastructure and working-class gambling. The aim of this dissertation is ultimately to provide an in depth reading of the few significant representations of horse racing in nineteenth-century literature and to shed light on why the popularity of the sport across the nineteenth century is not replicated by meaningful inclusion within the literature of the day.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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