Inchbald, Hawthorne and the Romantic Moral Romance: Little Histories and Neutral Territories

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2009-12-01
  • Publisher: Pickering & Chatto Ltd

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This study explores the connections between British and American Romanticism, focusing on the novels of Elizabeth Inchbald (1753-1821) and Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-64). Inchbald sought to legitimize herself as a serious author in a society that privileged male authorship. Fifty years later, Hawthorne struggled to establish an indigenous American literature in a British-dominated publishing world. Both novelists achieved huge popularity in their day. Although Inchbald is now overshadowed by the major male Romantic poets, 'A Simple Story' (1791) has never been out of print.Most famous for "The Scarlet Letter" (1850), Hawthorne is now recognised as a founder of American literature. Although the two authors wrote on opposite sides of the Atlantic and with different goals, they produced remarkably similar texts that point to a connection between British and American culture. Robertson characterises their novels as the 'Romantic moral romance', a unique kind of romance that acts as an experimental sub-genre of the novel. He argues that Inchbald and Hawthorne are representative of a larger British/American cultural confluence during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

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