This Victorian Life

This Victorian Life

Modern Adventures in Nineteenth-century Culture, Cooking, Fashion, and Technology

Book - 2015
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Perseus Publishing
Part memoir, part micro-history, this is an exploration of the present through the lens of the past.

We all know that the best way to study a foreign language is to go to a country where it's spoken, but can the same immersion method be applied to history? How do interactions with antique objects influence perceptions of the modern world?

From Victorian beauty regimes to nineteenth-century bicycles, custard recipes to taxidermy experiments, oil lamps to an ice box, Sarah and Gabriel Chrisman decided to explore nineteenth-century culture and technologies from the inside out. Even the deepest aspects of their lives became affected, and the more immersed they became in the late Victorian era, the more aware they grew of its legacies permeating the twenty-first century.

Most of us have dreamed of time travel, but what if that dream could come true? Certain universal constants remain steady for all people regardless of time or place. No matter where, when, or who we are, humans share similar passions and fears, joys and triumphs.

In her first book, Victorian Secrets, Chrisman recalled the first year she spent wearing a Victorian corset 24/7. In This Victorian Life, Chrisman picks up where Secrets left off and documents her complete shift into living as though she were in the nineteenth century.

Publisher: New York : Skyhorse Publishing, Inc., 2015
ISBN: 9781634502375
Branch Call Number: 942 CHRISMAN
Characteristics: xix, 303 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm


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Mar 16, 2019

I wanted to love this book. I'm big into Victoriana, but sensible ( I enjoy not dying from easily treatable diseases) . Anyway, she has some interesting technology stuff in here but there's also the boring stuff. For example, she goes on for pages about an antique fountain pen, her ice-box, and perfection heater. The obsession with bicycles I just don't get.

All that being said, do whatever makes you happy as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else.

Oh, and yes, you can totally pick up on this weird judgey, elitist undercurrent in her writing.

Apr 23, 2018

The fascinating historical information on Victorian technologies is ruined by the author’s pompous attitudes. “We live in a society that prides itself on diversity, yet has ironically narrow definitions of which types of diversity it will tolerate.” While no one should harass another for their choice of clothing, the insistence on separate spheres, the conflation of good with beauty (anyone she deems rude is hideous and must have their body shamed), use of femme-shaming and queerphobic terminology make this a nightmare to read.


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