Victorian culture is famous for its idealization of mothers and families, yet the popular novels of this period frequently feature mothers who are dead or otherwise absent. Through an analysis of the work of Dickens, Collins, Eliot, Darwin and Woolf, Carolyn Dever discusses this apparent paradox. She shows how the idealized dead mother is fundamental to the Victorians' idea of origins, and later becomes the central figure of Freudian psychoanalysis. Dever demonstrates that Victorian literature and psychoanalysis have much to teach us about each other.
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