Books: Glare & Shadow

THE VICTORIANS (270 pp.)—Sir Charles Petrie—Longmans, Green ($6.75).

"It was an age," wrote Lytton Strachey, "in which all the outlines were tremendous and all the details sordid." Certainly, in Victorian England, island swelled into Empire, man's origins retreated from Adam to ape, man's progress advanced to antitoxins and turbines. But certainly, too, there was a precipitous drop from Disraeli to pestilent drains or from Darwin to shivering streetwalkers. Characteristically, it was an age of gaslight, which lighted the dark with a baleful glare, but produced furtive, disquieting shadows.

The Victorians everywhere moved between the illimitable and the unmentionable, their arms outstretched toward vast...

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