This essay uses the overlapping cases of Victorian comparative religion and the Victorian Jesus novel to explore the vexed function of comparative types in nineteenth-century writing. Where Victorian comparative religion, with its concept of the generic founder type, had a surprisingly hard time validating the lives of particular individuals, evangelical Jesus novels were able to make use of historical realism in a way that standard portraits of the novel as a secularizing genre seldom anticipate.
Prophets Genuine and Spurious: The Victorian Jesus Novel and the Ends of Comparison
Sebastian Lecourt is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Houston. He is the author of Cultivating Belief: Victorian Anthropology, Liberal Aesthetics, and the Secular Imagination (Oxford, 2018) as well as essays in PMLA, Victorian Studies, b2o, Literature Compass, and Victorian Literature and Culture.
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Sebastian Lecourt; Prophets Genuine and Spurious: The Victorian Jesus Novel and the Ends of Comparison. Representations 1 May 2018; 142 (1): 33–55. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/rep.2018.142.1.33
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