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Ancestry and Narrative in Nineteenth-Century British Literature: Blood Relations from Edgeworth to Hardy

Overview

This study addresses the question of why ideas of ancestry and kinship were so important in nineteenth-century society, and particularly in the Victorian novel. Through readings of a range of literary texts, Sophie Gilmartin explores questions fundamental to the national and racial identity of Victorian Britons. What makes people believe that they are part of a certain region, race or nation? Is this sense of belonging based on superstitious beliefs, invented traditions, or fictions created to gain a sense of ...
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Overview

This study addresses the question of why ideas of ancestry and kinship were so important in nineteenth-century society, and particularly in the Victorian novel. Through readings of a range of literary texts, Sophie Gilmartin explores questions fundamental to the national and racial identity of Victorian Britons. What makes people believe that they are part of a certain region, race or nation? Is this sense of belonging based on superstitious beliefs, invented traditions, or fictions created to gain a sense of unity or community? As Britain extended her empire over foreign nations and races, questions of blood relations, of assimilation and difference, and of national and racial definition came to the fore. Gilmartin's study shows how ideas of ancestry and kinship, and the narratives inspired by or invented around them, were of profound significance in the construction of Victorian identity.
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Editorial Reviews

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"...Gilmartin provides interesting readings of a number of novels often passed over in the study of Victorian fiction, and she heightens the reader's awareness of a subject that was important to the Victorians and should be given due consideration by those who would understand the age's fiction." Choice
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Product Details

Table of Contents

List of illustrations
Acknowledgements
Textual note: the novels
Introduction 1
1 Oral and written genealogies in Edgeworth's The Absentee 23
2 A mirror for matriarchs: the cult of Mary Queen of Scots in nineteenth-century literature 54
3 Pedigree, nation, race: the case of Disraeli's Sybil and Tancred 102
4 'A sort of Royal Family': Alternative pedigrees in Meredith's Evan Harrington 130
5 Pedigree, sati and the widow in Meredith's The Egoist 163
6 Pedigree and forgetting in Hardy 195
7 Geology and genealogy: Hardy's The Well-Beloved 226
Conclusion 246
Notes 252
Bibliography 267
Index 276
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