That code (= codice) of strict propriety’ and respectability which is associated with the expression “Victorianism” was most faithfully (= fedelmente) obeyed by the middle class which the growth (= crescita) of trade made the most important part of nineteenth-century society.
Above all they valued purity and “refinement”. The worst of the vices were coarseness and vulgarity. Not only was immoral conduct condemned; the very possibility of its existence was excluded from polite (= educata) conversation and literature. Shakespeare appeared in editions from which all “improper” expressions had been removed (= tolte) . The word “belly” (= pancia) was driven out (= esclusa) of the language and has hardly dared (= osato) to return even yet. Even “stomach” was considered an “indelicate” word; and that the female sex possessed legs (= gambe) was rarely admitted. They were said to have “limbs” (= arti) instead. […]
The taste of the Victorian age was much less sure (= certo) than that of the eighteenth century, especially in architecture and interior decoration. Under the impression that they were reviving the rich styles of the Middle Ages, the Victorians produced pretentious public buildings freely decorated with a great deal (= una grande quantità) of useless (= inutile) ornament. The homes of the period were overloaded (= sovraccariche) with furniture (=mobile), very little of which was remarkable (= notevole) for its beauty. The consequence is that although the word “vulgar” cannot be applied to Victorian morals it is often the only suitable adjective to describe its taste.
This is a brief description of Victorian tastes made by L.C.B. Seaman in his A Short Social History of England, by, Longmans,
, 1947. London
Victorian prudery (= moralismo) was – and still is – famous but there are also some exaggerations about it.
The respectable middle and upper classes did not speak publicly about sex and childbirth, but it is also well known that this discretion covered a multitude of sins (= peccati): in the Victorian period crimes and prostitution flourished as well adulterous relationships.
Men’s clothing were less colourful than during the pervious (= precedente) period, but the waistcoats (= pancioti) were lively and smoking jackets and formal evening dresses were often made of rich Oriental brocades. As to women, corsets (= corsetti), large gowns (= vestiti larghi), bare (= nude) shoulders stressed (=sottolineavano) their femininity.
There were some rules about the gowns: the hemline (= lunghezza della gonna) should descend towards the ankle (= polpaccio) as a girl got older (= cresceva) as the picture taken from the Harper’s Bazaar (1868) shows.