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"Victorian Literature and the Victorian State is a strong and important book. I am particularly impressed by its engagement with the actual politics of the Victorian age, to an extent far greater than is usual in literary study; conversely, its strong critical analyses of major works of fiction by major authors do far more than historians are generally capable of when they turn to literature."

"In this impressive book, Lauren Goodlad rethinks a deep-seated tension in British liberalism between self-reliance and civic responsibility. She draws on a wide range of literary and historical sources to explain why liberalism, aspiring to be both rational and liberating, often succeeded in being neither. An engaging and rewarding study which, among its many accomplishments, puts Foucault to new use for Victorian studies."

"Goodlad shifts the paradigm for studying Victorian society from the... early Foucault... A welcome intervention into new historicist critical practices."

"One of the most important contributions to the study of the Victorian novel to appear thus far in the twenty-first century."

"Lauren Goodlad seems poised to take her place among the most incisive and respected critics of Victorian literature and culture... Goodlad's study is erudite in its detailed accounts of period literatures and contexts and rigorously fair-minded in its approach to the past."

"Meticulous and illuminating book."

"With this welcome study, Goodlad extends and revises post-Foucauldian theories of state power and governance in 19th-century England... It will undoubtedly spark much productive debate among scholars of the Victorian period."

"Lauren Goodlad's excellent book examines the New Poor Law, sanitary reform, and civil service reform within their political and literary contexts, particularly that provided by Victorian liberalism, a philosophy that holds that the best government is that which governs least."

"Goodlad finds a tension at the heart of Victorian liberal society between the highly influential discourse of independence and self-help and an emergent discourse of state and civic responsibility... Victorian Literature and the Victorian State consists of fine-grained, historicist analysis of the key social debates that showcased this tension, accompanied by solid readings of pertinent novels... Goodlad accomplishes the worthy goal she sets herself: to offer an understanding of liberalism that is at once 'rigorous and expansive.'"

"This study offers frequently persuasive readings of literary texts in relation to Victorian attempts to reform poor relief, the civil service, sanitation, and education... It does an effective job of balancing literature and history so that detailed discussions of phenomena from those different realms cast light on each other."