Romantic Correspondence: Women, Politics and the Fiction of Letters

Romantic Correspondence: Women, Politics and the Fiction of Letters

by Mary A. Favret
     
 

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The literary importance of letters did not end with the demise of the eighteenth-century epistolary novel. In the turbulent period, between 1789 and 1830, the letter was used as a vehicle for political rather than sentimental expression. Against a background of severe political censorship, seditious corresponding societies and the rise of the modern Post Office,… See more details below

Overview

The literary importance of letters did not end with the demise of the eighteenth-century epistolary novel. In the turbulent period, between 1789 and 1830, the letter was used as a vehicle for political rather than sentimental expression. Against a background of severe political censorship, seditious corresponding societies and the rise of the modern Post Office, letters as they were used by Romantic writers, especially women, became the vehicle for a distinctly political, often disruptive force. Mary Favret's study of Romantic correspondence reexamines traditional accounts of epistolary writing, and redefines the letter as a "feminine" genre. It also reconsiders a central concept of Romantic poetry in historicist, feminist and prosaic terms, by asking us to question the categories of gender and genre which determine our sense of Romantic literature. The book deals not only with fictional letters which circulated in the novels of Jane Austen or in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, but also with political pamphlets, incendiary letters and spy letters available for public consumption. Moreover, Mary Favret argues that the travel letters of Mary Wollstonecraft and the foreign correspondence of Helen Maria Williams disturb any simple notion of epistolary fictions and the "woman of letters" by insisting on the democratizing power of correspondence. At the same time, she demonstrates how the history of correspondence promoted by the British Post Office deflects that democratizing power by channeling letter-writing into a story of national progress.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780521604284
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Publication date:
01/27/2005
Series:
Cambridge Studies in Romanticism Series, #1
Pages:
284
Product dimensions:
5.98(w) x 8.98(h) x 0.63(d)

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