Martin A. Danahay's lucidly argued and accessibly written volume offers a solid introduction to important issues surrounding the definition and division of labor in British society and culture. 'Work,' Danahay argues, was a term rife with ideological contradictions for Victorian males during a period when it was considered synonymous with masculinity.
Male writers and artists in particular found their labors troubled by class and gender ideologies that idealized 'man's work' as sweaty, muscled labor and tended to feminize intellectual and artistic pursuits.
Though many romanticized working-class labor, the fissured representation of the masculine body occasioned by the distinction between manual labor and 'brain work' made it impossible for them to overcome the Victorian class hierarchy of labor.
Through cultural studies analyses of the novels of Dickens and Gissing; the nonfiction prose of Carlyle, Ruskin and Morris; the poetry of Thomas Hood; paintings by Richard Redgrave, William Bell Scott, and Ford Madox Brown; and contemporary photographs, including many from the Munby Collection, Danahay examines the ideological contradictions in Victorian representations of men at work.
His book will be a valuable resource for scholars and students of English literature, history, and gender studies.