Explore The Victorian Web: http://victorianweb.org/ and give a brief account of how valuable this site can be for a comprehensive study of all aspects of Charles Dickens’ work. Provide links to some of the most important things you found there.
The value of the internet, is something that does not go unnoticed in the 21st century. Whilst modern, it allows curious minds to satiate their thirst for knowledge across the span of time. In the world of literature, this is no exception, however sources such as Wikipedia do not comprehensively or accurately provide enough or correct information on sought-for topics, especially when there is such easy access to adding or editing information. But what if there was a Wikipedia, better than Wikipedia?
From a student perspective, the navigation of The Victorian Web is, while plain and slightly unattractive to the eye, simple to use and follow as it branches out like a tree. When reading Hard Times and wishing for more context for the fictional town of Coketown, I found the ability to follow the website through from Victorian authors to a short biography on Charles Dickens, quite easy. However, the main source of value is the inclusion of hyperlinks within lengthy bodies of text to further inform readers, students especially, on more information concerning events within Dicken’s life. Particularly in Hard Times, his experiences as a young boy in shoe factories (found here) can be easily pointed to as inspiration for Gradgrind’s push for facts and calculations upon his five children. This of course after reading, I found to be essential pieces of information to understand to interpret some considerable influences on his writing.
“The blacking factory episode does not account for Dickens’s genius, but it does, I believe, explain some of the forms his genius took, and it throws light on much that is otherwise baffling both in his art and his life.” – Allen, Walter. The English Novel. (found here)
Aside from social context, the website also allows for readers to gain professional insights from literature professors on Dicken’s presentation of his novel in his style and use of genre. Genre, being a fluctuating concept across literature and the arts, is also an interesting concept to learn new and developed ideas from (found here). By bringing to light the perspective of one writer, James Sexton and his own perspective, as well as his own cited sources form external references, The Victorian Web allows for a broad yet still detailed observation of Dicken’s work; this involving both different contents as well as content and presentation of the novel. In terms of value, this is essential in allowing readers, especially students or people studying, to gain a wider perspective and understanding on the different ways the one text can be received.
Considering the number of routes through the links, external resources and hyperlinks provided, this website is overall quite valuable in the study of Charles Dickens regardless of the unappealing or dragging nature of navigating through the website to reach the required information.