Macaria: Or Altars of Sacrifice

Overview

First published in 1864, Macaria; or, Altars of Sacrifice was the third novel of Augusta Jane Evans, one of the leading women writers of nineteenth-century domestic fiction. A wartime best seller, with more than twenty thousand copies in circulation in the print-starved Confederacy before the war's end, the novel was also extremely well received along the Union front, so much so that some northern officials thought it should be banned. Long out of print and largely unavailable until now, Macaria is a compelling ...
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Overview

First published in 1864, Macaria; or, Altars of Sacrifice was the third novel of Augusta Jane Evans, one of the leading women writers of nineteenth-century domestic fiction. A wartime best seller, with more than twenty thousand copies in circulation in the print-starved Confederacy before the war's end, the novel was also extremely well received along the Union front, so much so that some northern officials thought it should be banned. Long out of print and largely unavailable until now, Macaria is a compelling narrative about women and war. In Macaria, Evans charts the journey of two southern women toward ultimate self-realization through their service in the war-torn Confederacy. Irene and Electra struggle to assert their independence and gain for themselves a place in southern society apart from their now-disrupted domestic roles. Discarding the traditional theme of romantic fulfillment, Evans skillfully crafts a novel about women compelled by the departure and death of so many southern men to find meaning in their own "single blessedness," rather than in marriage. Thus Evans successfully subverts the characteristic form of women's fiction, that of the romance narrative, to create a "quest" narrative, more common in men's fiction. Macaria appealed directly and calculatedly to sentiments prevailing within its potential audience of southern women readers - acknowledging their fears of uselessness and of widowhood or spinsterhood, as well as their attraction to a new language of self-determination. In her perceptive introduction to this edition, Drew Gilpin Faust places the novel in the context of the concerns of Confederate nationalism and the contributions of women during the Civil War. She shows that Evans, though a staunch supporter of the Confederacy and a wartime hospital volunteer, felt marginal to the war effort and, like many other women, bemoaned this fact in diaries and letters. It is from this aspect, the emergence of the literary woman, that Faust
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A bestseller in the South during the Civil War, this tale focuses on a pair of strong-minded heroines who grapple with questions of individual morality and, when war breaks out, contribute to the fight against the ``Cain-cursed race of New England.'' Irene Huntington, a pampered heiress, and Electra Grey, a poor orphan, both love Electra's cousin Russell Aubrey. Russell returns Irene's love, but honor, duty and old enmities compel all three to keep their affections a dark secret. Each also shuns marriage: Irene won't be bullied by her father into accepting an arranged match; Russell proposes to no one; and Electra, endowed with a ``passionate nature,'' sneers at the ``maudlin sentiments of propriety'' voiced by her suitor. A product of its time, the novel is, as Faust ( The Creation of Confederate Nationalism ) notes, especially interesting for political statements, such as opposition to universal suffrage, and the ``discordant'' way in which it advocates self-determination for women (within unselfish, God-fearing guidelines)--while coolly assuming the inferiority of ``negro labor.'' (Aug.)
Booknews
First published in 1864 (and long out of print), this novel was written by a leading author of 19th-century domestic fiction (and was a best seller in both the North and the South). Its subject is women struggling for a place in society as independent Introductory material by the editor tells of the author's life and times. Paper edition (unseen), $16.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807116623
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/1992
  • Series: Library of Southern Civilization
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 1,041,494
  • Product dimensions: 6.09 (w) x 9.04 (h) x 1.19 (d)

Meet the Author

Drew Gilpin Faust is Annenberg Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of several books, including The Creation of Confederate Nationalism: Ideology and Identity in the Civil war South and James Henry Hammond and the Old South: A Design for Mastery, for which she received the Charles S. Sydnor Award.

Drew Gilpin Faust is Annenberg Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of several books, including The Creation of Confederate Nationalism: Ideology and Identity in the Civil war South and James Henry Hammond and the Old South: A Design for Mastery, for which she received the Charles S. Sydnor Award.

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