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Domestic Novelists in the Old South: Defenders of Southern Culture (Southern Literary Studies)
Synopses & Reviews
At a time when sectional conflicts were dividing the nation, five best-selling southern domestic novelists vigorously came to the defense of their native region. In response to northern criticism, Caroline Gilman, Caroline Hentz, Maria McIntosh, Mary Virginia Terhune, and Augusta Jane Evans presented through their fiction what they believed to be the "true" South. From the mid-1830s through 1866, these five novelists wrote about an ordered South governed by the aristocratic ethic of noblesse oblige, and argued that slavery was part of a larger system of reciprocal relationships that made southern society the moral superior of the individualistic North. Scholars have typically approached the domestic novel as a national rather than a regional phenomenon, assuming that because practically all domestic fiction was written by and for women, the elements of all domestic novels are essentially identical. Elizabeth Moss corrects that simplification, locating Gilman, Hentz, McIntosh, Terhune, and Evans within the broader context of antebellum social and political culture and establishing their lives and works as important sources of information concerning the attitudes of southerners, particularly southern women, toward power and authority within their society. Moss's study of the novels of these women challenges the "transhistorical view" of women's history and integrates women into the larger context of antebellum southern history. Domestic Novelists in the Old South shows that whereas northern readers and writers of domestic fiction may have been interested in changing their society, their southern counterparts were concerned with strengthening and sustaining the South's existing socialstructure. But the southern domestic novelists did more than reiterate the ideology of the ruling class; they also developed a compelling defense of slavery in terms of southern culture that reflected their perceptions of southern society and women's place within it. Just how s
Book News Annotation:
Moss examines five best-selling southern domestic novelists--Caroline Gilman, Caroline Hentz, Maria McIntosh, Mary Virginia Terhune, and Augusta Jane Evans--within the broader context of antebellum social and political culture.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Includes bibliographical references (p. -242) and index.
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