The Mediterranean and the Shaping of Victorian Britain, 1830–60
This chapter details British engagement with the Mediterranean from 1830 to 1860. Any discussion of Victorian cultural life is hindered by a stereotype: that it was an age of intimidating confidence and national, increasingly imperial, certainties. The truth was very different. Leading Victorians were wracked by fears of individual and collective decay and outright breakdown, often fomented by disturbing Mediterranean experience, real or imagined, which had religious, mental, and sexual connotations. There was also fear of political dissolution from the outset of this period. Moreover, aristocratic influences became enmeshed in the shibboleths of the emerging Victorian middle class. In their cultural form, those influences always had a deep Mediterranean imprint.
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