One of the silliest things in our recent history was the use of “Victorian” as a term of contempt or abuse. It had been made fashionable by Lytton Strachey with his clever, superficial and ultimately empty book Eminent Victorians, in which he damned with faint praise such Victorian heroes as General Gordon and Florence Nightingale. Strachey’s demolition job was clever because it ridiculed the Victorians for exactly those qualities on which they prided themselves—their high mindedness, their marked moral intensity, their desire to improve the human condition and their confidence that they had done so.
Yet one saw, even before the 100th anniversary of the death of Queen Victoria this year, that there were signs these sneering attitudes were beginning to change. Programmes on radio and television about Victoria and the age that was named after her managed to humble themselves only about half the time. People were beginning to realize that there was something heroic about that epoch and, perhaps, to fear that the Victorian age was the last age of greatness for this country.
Now a new book, What The Victorians Did For Us, aims further to redress the balance and remind us that, in most essentials, our own age is really an extension of what the Victorians created. You can start with the list of Victorian inventions. They were great lovers of gadgets from the smallest domestic ones to new ways of propelling ships throughout the far-flung Empire. In medicine, anaesthesia (developed both here and in America) allowed surgeons much greater time in which to operate—and hence to work on the inner organs of the body—not to mention reducing the level of pain and fear of patients.
To the Victorians we also owe lawn tennis, a nationwide football association under the modern rules, powered funfair rides, and theatres offering mass entertainment. And, of course, the modern seaside is almost entirely a Victorian invention. There is, of course, a darker side to the Victorian period. Everyone knows about it mostly because the Victorians catalogued it themselves. Henry Mayhew’s wonderful set of volumes on the lives of the London poor, and official reports on prostitution, on the workhouses and on child labour—reports and their statistics that were used by Marx when he wrote Das Kapital—testify to the social conscience that was at the center of “Victorian values”.
But now, surely, we can appreciate the Victorian achievement for what it was—the creation of the modern world. And when we compare the age of Tennyson and Darwin, of John Henry Newman and Carlyle, with our own, the only sensible reaction is one of humility: “We are our father’s shadows cast at noon”.
1.According to the author, Lytton Strachey’s book Eminent Victorians _____.
[A] accurately described the qualities of the people of the age
[B] superficially praised the heroic deeds of the Victorians
[C] was highly critical of the contemporary people and institutions
[D] was guilty of spreading prejudices against the Victorians
2. The change in the attidues towards the Vcitorians is revealed in the fact that _____.
[A] the 100th anniversary of the death of Queen Victoria is celebrated
[B] the media publicizes events or people about the Victorian age
[C] people begin to highly praise Victorian heroes
[D] a new book regards Victorians as creators of the modern world
3. What is the meaning of the word “gadgets” (Paragraph 4)?
[A] devices [B] tools [C] appliances [D] engines
4. According to the text, the Victorians invented _____.
[A] surgery [B] seaside holiday [C] funfair [D] mass entertainment
5. The author talks about the darker side of the Victorian period to _____.
[A] disclose the social injustices and evils
[B] give proof to Karl Marx’s Das Kapital
[C] manifest the Victorians’ good sense of right and wrong
[D] show the age’s strengths outweigh its weaknesses
答案:1.D 2.D 3.A 4.B 5.C
(1)damn sb./sth. with faint praise名褒实贬，用冷漠的赞扬贬低，如She damned Reynolds with faint praise, calling him one of the best imitators in the world.
(9)catalogue(n.)目录;一连串(糟糕)事，如a ~ of disasters接二连三的灾难(v.)列入目录;记载，登记(某人某事的详情)
(10)testify(v.)(出庭)作证;证实，证明;~ to sth.作为某事的证明，说明，如The film testifies to the courage of ordinary people during the war(这部电影表明老百姓在战争时期的英勇行为)