Catalogue


Revolution and the form of the British novel, 1790-1825 : intercepted letters, interrupted seductions /
Nicola J. Watson.
imprint
Oxford : Clarendon Press ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1994.
description
220 p. : ill.
ISBN
0198112971 (alk. paper) :
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Oxford : Clarendon Press ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1994.
isbn
0198112971 (alk. paper) :
catalogue key
247075
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1995-05:
An exceptionally rich and challenging account of the ideological significance of the epistolary English novel in the 1790s, and of its severe discrediting in the decades following. Implicitly building on the work of such contemporary social historians as Joan Landes, Watson discusses the manner in which, in the years following the French Revolution of 1789, the radical discourse of sensibility and desire tended to become the particular critical target of those who spoke for reason, responsibility, and regulation. The book opens with an account of the attempt by such novelists as Helen Maria Williams, Charlotte Smith, and Mary Wollstonecraft to adapt the plot of Rousseau's sensational La Nouvelle H'elo"ise to "radical, often explicitly feminist, political ends." Subsequent chapters then document the beating back of this radical enterprise. In discussing the work of such writers as Austen, Lady Sydney Morgan, Maria Edgeworth, and Scott, Watson focuses in particular upon narrative strategies for containing the oppositionality of the novel of sensibility. She argues convincingly that the form of the letter becomes a crucial stake in this project of containment. In its volatile inter-subjectivity, its irrecuperability by the spheres of publicity and "proper" civility, the letter stands metonymically in the place of (female) desire, alluding spectrally to the threat of disruption, destabilization, and political revolution. Upper-division undergraduate and up. N. F. Lazarus; Brown University
Reviews
Review Quotes
'Densely argued, clever in its interpretaton of texts - autobigraphical, biographical as well as novelistic - and displaying considerable sophistication in the deployment of contemporary narrative terminology.'History of European Ideas
'fascinating ... elegantly written' Literary Review
"In this wide-ranging study, Watson is more interested - and, certainly, convincing and lucid - in demonstrating the way the errant letter evolves, all the while 'retaining something of its scandalously sexualized nature'."--Eighteenth-Century Fiction "Densely argued, clever in its interpretation of texts - autobiographical, biographical as well as novelistic - and displaying considerable sophistication in the deployment of contemporary narrative terminology."--History of European Ideas "...an important contribution....Witty, elegant and well-researched..."--The Wordsworth Circle "An exceptionally rich and challenging account."--Choice
"In this wide-ranging study, Watson is more interested - and, certainly, convincing and lucid - in demonstrating the way the errant letter evolves, all the while 'retaining something of its scandalously sexualized nature'."-- Eighteenth-Century Fiction "Densely argued, clever in its interpretation of texts - autobiographical, biographical as well as novelistic - and displaying considerable sophistication in the deployment of contemporary narrative terminology."-- History of European Ideas "...an important contribution....Witty, elegant and well-researched..."-- The Wordsworth Circle "An exceptionally rich and challenging account."-- Choice
'In this wide-ranging study, Watson is more interested - and, certainly, convincing and lucid - in demonstrating the way the errant letter evolves, all the while "retaining something of its scandalously sexualized nature".'Eleanor Ty, Wilfrid Laurier University, Eighteenth-Century Fiction 7:1
'Revolution and the Form of the British Novel is faithful to its historical period. In particular, there are helpful thumbnail sketches of the altering political scene as well as useful expansions on networks of literary friendship or influence. Harriette Wilson...serves to remind us how farliterary studies are widened by books as elegantly written as Revolution and the Form of the British Novel.'The Byron Journal
'the book is well worth persevering with: fascinating, often elegantly written.Literary Review
'the book is well worth persevering with: fascinating, often elegantly written'Literary Review, February 1994
'the book is well worth persevering with: fascinating, often elegantly written.Literary Review'fascinating ... elegantly written' Literary Review'the book is well worth persevering with: fascinating, often elegantly written'Literary Review, February 1994'In this wide-ranging study, Watson is more interested - and, certainly, convincing and lucid - in demonstrating the way the errant letter evolves, all the while "retaining something of its scandalously sexualized nature".'Eleanor Ty, Wilfrid Laurier University, Eighteenth-Century Fiction 7:1'Revolution and the Form of the British Novel is faithful to its historical period. In particular, there are helpful thumbnail sketches of the altering political scene as well as useful expansions on networks of literary friendship or influence. Harriette Wilson...serves to remind us how far literary studies are widened by books as elegantly written as Revolution and the Form of the British Novel.'The Byron Journal'Densely argued, clever in its interpretaton of texts - autobigraphical, biographical as well as novelistic - and displaying considerable sophistication in the deployment of contemporary narrative terminology.'History of European Ideas
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, May 1995
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Long Description
Whatever happened to the epistolary novel? This is an innovative account of the disintegration of one of the principal narrative forms of the eighteenth century in favor of more authoritarian, third-person models designed to underwrite a new version of British national identity in the Napoleonic period. It offers provocative political readings of authors including Jane Austen, Mary Wollstonecraft, Charlotte Smith, Maria Edgeworth, Walter Scott, Charles Maturin, William Hazlitt, and Lord Byron.
Long Description
Whatever happened to the epistolary novel? Why was it that by 1825 the principal narrative form of eighteenth-century fiction has been replaced by the third-person and often historicised models which have predominated ever since? Nicola Watson's original and wide-ranging study charts the suppression of epistolary fiction, exploring the attempted radicalization of the genre by Wollstonecraft and other feminists in the 1790s, its rejection and parody by Jane Austen and Maria Edgeworth, the increasingly discredited role played by letters in the historical novels of Jane Porter and Walter Scott, and their troubling, ghostly presence in the Gothic narratives of James Hogg and Charles Maturin. The shift in narrative method is seen as a response to anxieties about the French Revolution, with the epistolary, feminized, and sentimental plot replaced by a more authoritarian third-person mode as part of a wider redrawing of the relation between the individual and the social consensus. This is a brilliant and innovative reading of the place of the novel in the reformulation of British national identity in the Napoleonic period, throwing new light on writers as diverse as Hazlitt, Charlotte Smith, Walter Scott, Helen Maria Williams, and Byron.
Main Description
Offering provocative political readings of authors including Austen, Wollstonecraft, Scott, and Byron, Nicola Watson charts the suppression of epistolary fiction, and explores the place of the novel in reformulating British national identity during this period.
Main Description
Whatever happened to the epistolary novel? Why was it that by 1825 the principal narrative form of eighteenth-century fiction has been replaced by the third-person and often historicised models which have predominated ever since?Nicola Watson's original and wide-ranging study charts the suppression of epistolary fiction, exploring the attempted radicalization of the genre by Wollstonecraft and other feminists in the 1790s, its rejection and parody by Jane Austen and Maria Edgeworth, the increasingly discredited role playedby letters in the historical novels of Jane Porter and Walter Scott, and their troubling, ghostly presence in the Gothic narratives of James Hogg and Charles Maturin. The shift in narrative method is seen as a response to anxieties about the French Revolution, with the epistolary, feminized, andsentimental plot replaced by a more authoritarian third-person mode as part of a wider redrawing of the relation between the individual and the social consensus.This is a brilliant and innovative reading of the place of the novel in the reformulation of British national identity in the Napoleonic period, throwing new light on writers as diverse as Hazlitt, Charlotte Smith, Walter Scott, Helen Maria Williams, and Byron.
Table of Contents
Frontispiece: Le Coterie Debouche
Introduction: Revolutionary Lettersp. 1
Julie Among the Jacobins: Radicalism and the Sentimental Novel, 1790-1800p. 13
Redirecting the Letter: Counter-Revolutionary Tactics, 1800-1819p. 69
Consigning the Heroine to History: National and Historical Tales, 1800-1825p. 109
Compromising Letters: Shades of the Sentimental, 1811-1815p. 155
Bibliographyp. 194
Indexp. 211
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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