Post-Structural or Deconstructive or Postmodernist Reading of Victorian Novels

During the 1960s and 1970s, the early textual reading had been totally displaced by post-structural, or by reconstructive, or by post-modernist reading, these readings questioned the centrality, closure function of language, the position of an author, and defined the text from new parameters.

They have taken the references of "narrative theorists", for these theorists Victorian literature is very much conventional and conservative; it has a narrative conclusion, they thought unified meaning' in the text could be found. Most of the post-modernist theorists were in against of such notion of Victorian literature and they thought that Victorian literature is proto-post modernists (post-modernist theorists argued that Victorians were more post modernists than present post-modernist). It is charged as proto-postmodernists because it contained paradoxes, instability, and discontinuity. It helped to challenge the distinctions between Victorian, modern and post-modern approaches.

One important example is Peter K. Garret’s Victorian Multiplot Novel, he uses Bakhtin’s notion of dialogism to define the peculiar qualities of the great Victorian novels whose looseness and bagginess have long been a practice to formalists. Garret’s reading has a greater influence of de Manian deconstruction, he tried to show that Victorian novels have no narrative closures, Victorian novels are not one, monolithic rather there are multiple perspectives on them.

Formalistic critics have a different vision; they see no narrative coherence in Victorian literature. Bakhtinian critics argue that the tension is built in the form itself. Here Bakhtinian critics were failed to see the historical aspect of Victorian literature, so, the situatedness or locatedness of socioeconomic condition is not seen.

Another example can be taken from D.A. Millers' Narrative and its Discontents, a more explicitly deconstructionist argument. He tried to show the tensions between narratable (narrative) and narrated (closure). The narrative has possibilities to go, further and further. It the narrative has closure than that is as like the death of the novel, but Victorian Novelists tried to impose the narrated or conclusion or closure. D.A. Miller argues that imposing closure is artificial not natural.

As post-modernists bent of critics have seen Victorian literature proto-postmodernist, the poststructuralist critics see it proto-poststructuralist as many elements of the post structuralism can be seen in it. Some theorists have argued that Victorians were contemporaries of Nietzsche so they have faced the problems of the same kind as Nietzsche faced.