Book Cover

Good Words

Evangelicalism and the Victorian Novel

Mark Knight

214 pp. 6 x 9

Pub Date: March, 2019

Subjects: Victorian Studies
Literature Studies, British and Irish
Literary Studies, 19th Century

Series: Literature, Religion, and Postsecular Studies

Order Hardcover $69.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-1393-3
order Paperback $34.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-5525-4
Order PDF ebook$29.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-7686-0

“Mark Knight’s Good Words promises to be an essential work on the nineteenth-century British novel and the evangelical movement. While making a compelling case for the powers of proximity and attachment in our contemporary critical discourse, Knight shows that our understanding of canonical Victorian fiction will be enriched when we take note of overlooked confessional and theological vocabularies.” —William R. McKelvy

This new study explores how evangelicalism played a vital role in the development of the Victorian novel. In contrast to those who see the evangelical movement as trivial to our histories of the novel and part of the losing side in religion’s battle with secularity, Good Words: Evangelicalism and the Victorian Novel examines fiction by major writers of the nineteenth century—Thackeray, Dickens, Wood, MacDonald, Collins, and Butler—and reveals the extent to which the novel was shaped by evangelical thought and practice.


Rather than getting lost in historical and theological rabbit holes, Good Words invites readers to think about why evangelicalism still matters for the stories we tell about fiction in the Victorian period. The result has major implications for our understanding of the Victorian novel, our conception of the relationship between nineteenth-century literature and religion, the way in which we think about evangelical culture in the modern world, and our ideas about the practices and protocols of scholarly reading.

Mark Knight is Senior Lecturer in the Department of English Literature and Creative Writing at Lancaster University.



Introduction         Rethinking Our Stories of the Victorian Novel

Chapter 1   The Pilgrim’s Progression to Vanity Fair

Chapter 2   Dickens’s Tale of Conversion

Chapter 3   Good Words and the Great Commission

Chapter 4   Hermeneutics, Evangelical Common Sense, and The Moonstone

Chapter 5   Samuel Butler’s The Way of All Flesh and Our Stories of Evangelicalism