Fire & Fiction: Augusta Jane Evans in Context

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Rodopi, 2000 - Literary Criticism - 222 pages
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Augusta Jane Evans, a nineteenth-century writer from the American South, produced bestsellers in the genre of the domestic novel, popular between the 1820s and 1880s. Evans was particularly good in creating strong and independent heroines. She is best known for her blockbuster St. Elmo (1866), featuring the love story of Edna Earl and the passionate St. Elmo Murray.In Fire and Fiction: Augusta Jane Evans in Context Anne Sophie Riepma reconstructs the literary, cultural, religious, social, and historical contexts of Evans's work. She explores the author's relation to her times and focuses on the way her novels reflect and address the cultural experiences of Southern women. Riepma pays particular attention to topics such as the ideology of domesticity, domestic fiction, the concept of “woman's sphere,” women's role in society, middle-class culture, education and employment for women, religion, reform, political developments, and the Confederate War.

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Page 12 - The power of a sentimental novel to move its audience depends upon the audience's being in possession of the conceptual categories that constitute character and event.
Page 12 - ... the rest. Once in possession of the system of beliefs that undergirds the patterns of sentimental fiction, it is possible for modern readers to see how its tearful episodes and frequent violations of probability were invested with a structure of meanings that fixed these works, for nineteenthcentury readers, not in the realm of fairy tale or escapist fantasy, but in the very bedrock of reality.

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