Victorian Lessons in Empathy and Difference

Looking closely at the work of Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, and James McNeill Whistler, Rebecca N. Mitchell reframes conventional considerations of Victorian empathy and argues that the recognition of alterity, and not identification, is the basis of the intersubjectivity depicted in realist texts and paintings. In the nineteenth century, encounters with the other are represented through the disconnection between subjects within the novel or painting’s space; representation of that intersubjective inscrutability is elemental to the realist project.