Review of Of Victorians and Vegetarians: The Vegetarian Movement in Nineteenth-Century Britain
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Historians are every bit as likely as the next person to see the past as the reflection of the present. Thus the labour movement, the civil-rights movement, and the women's movement have all inspired historical subdisciplines. More recently, animal advocacy has had a similar impact. In his exhaustively researched survey, James Gregory explores the antecedents of the gustatory arm of the modern humane movement. He sees these antecedents as distinctively Victorian. That is, he does not explore the entire history of vegetarianism, which stretches back at least to ancient Greece, nor does he spend much time on Romantic individualists such as Shelley. Instead, he is concerned with organised, institutional vegetarianism, which began, in his view, around 1838. As he persuasively demonstrates the extent to which Victorian vegetarianism reflected its social and cultural contexts, he raises several other questions to which the answers are more elusive. How important was vegetarianism in nineteenth-century Britain? And how closely did Victorian vegetarianism resemble its contemporary avatar?
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Humanities. History Section
English Historical Review
Oxford University Press
Ritvo, Harriet. Review of: Of Victorians and Vegetarians: The Vegetarian Movement in Nineteenth-Century Britain, by James Gregory (London: I.B. Tauris, 2007; pp. 313. £59.50), English Historical Review, (April 2010) CXXV (513): 460-462.
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