Equivocal Beings: Politics, Gender, and Sentimentality in the 1790s--Wollstonecraft, Radcliffe, Burney, Austen
University of Chicago Press, 9 mar 2009 - 256
In the wake of the French Revolution, Edmund Burke argued that civil order depended upon nurturing the sensibility of men—upon the masculine cultivation of traditionally feminine qualities such as sentiment, tenderness, veneration, awe, gratitude, and even prejudice. Writers as diverse as Sterne, Goldsmith, Burke, and Rousseau were politically motivated to represent authority figures as men of feeling, but denied women comparable authority by representing their feelings as inferior, pathological, or criminal. Focusing on Mary Wollstonecraft, Ann Radcliffe, Frances Burney, and Jane Austen, whose popular works culminate and assail this tradition, Claudia L. Johnson examines the legacy male sentimentality left for women of various political persuasions.
Demonstrating the interrelationships among politics, gender, and feeling in the fiction of this period, Johnson provides detailed readings of Wollstonecraft, Radcliffe, and Burney, and treats the qualities that were once thought to mar their work—grotesqueness, strain, and excess—as indices of ideological conflict and as strategies of representation during a period of profound political conflict. She maintains that the reactionary reassertion of male sentimentality as a political duty displaced customary gender roles, rendering women, in Wollstonecraft's words, "equivocal beings."
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The Distinction of the Sexes The Vindications
Embodying the Sentiments Mary and The Wrongs of Woman
Less than Man and More than Woman The Romance of the Forest
The Sex of Suffering The Mysteries of Udolpho
Losing the Mother in the Judge The Italian
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Adeline Adeline's affective Ann Radcliffe atrocity Aubert authority beauty body Burke Burke's Burney Burney's Camilla CHAPTER character chivalry criticism culture Darnford discourse discussion distress domestic effeminacy Eighteenth-Century Ellena Ellis/Juliet Emily Emily's Emma Emma's English equivocal Fanny Burney father feeling Female Difficulties feminine Feminism feminist fiction Forest France Frances Burney Frank Churchill French Revolution Gary Kelly gender Godwin gothic heroines heterosexual human husband Italian Jane Austen Jemima Knightley Lady Laurentini Madame Montoni male sentimentality manly Marchesa Maria Marquis Mary Wollstonecraft Mary's masculine maternal mind misogyny moral mother Motte murder Mysteries of Udolpho narrative narrator nation never Northanger Abbey NOTES TO PAGES novel Oxford passion pleasure plot political prejudice Radcliffe Radcliffe's radical Rights of Woman Romance Rousseau Schedoni seems sensibility sensitivity senti sexual stonecraft suffering tion torture Tyrold University Press unsexed Vindication virtue Vivaldi Wanderer Woll women Wrongs of Woman
Strona xvi - I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult. But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators, has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished for ever.
Strona xvi - Little did I dream, when she added titles of veneration to those of enthusiastic, distant, respectful love, that she should ever be obliged to carry the sharp antidote against disgrace concealed in that bosom; little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters fallen upon her in a nation of gallant men, in a nation of men of honour and of cavaliers. I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult.
Strona xvi - Never, never more, shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom. The unbought grace of life, the cheap defence of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise is gone.
Strona 4 - ... the abominable scene of 1789 which I was describing did draw tears from me and wetted my paper. These tears came again into my eyes almost as often as I looked at the description. They may again.
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Mothers of the Nation: Women's Political Writing in England, 1780-1830
Anne Kostelanetz Mellor
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