The Dispossessed State
Narratives of Ownership in Nineteenth-Century Britain and Ireland
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Cover, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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The ideas in this book were fostered at Indiana University, under the intelligent and generous guidance of Andrew H. Miller, Patrick Brantlinger, Deidre Lynch, and Janet Sorenson. There too, Purnima Bose and Eva Cherniavsky first sparked my interest in colonial and postcolonial issues in literature. And in teaching me to teach writing, Christine Farris and Kathy O. Smith taught me...
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The nineteenth century witnessed a revolution in thinking about property that was also a revolution in thinking about the state. The commonsense understanding of property at the opening of the century might be read in Thomas Macaulay’s 1833 argument for a coercive enforcement of order in Ireland: “[Mr. Macaulay] thought there was no situation in the life of a public man more painful...
1. Disowning to Own: Maria Edgeworth’s Irish Fiction and the Illegitimacy of National Ownership
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Maria Edgeworth’s reputation has been tied persistently, if contradictorily, to property. Edgeworth is well known for declining to express a sense of ownership over her own writing. Her refusal stems in part from Edgeworth’s close collaboration with her father. He often assigned her topics and themes upon which to write and was heavily involved in editing her work. At least once, in...
2. The Forbearance of the State: John Stuart Mill and the Promise of Irish Property
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Outside of a shared interest in thinking about property relations in Ireland, John Stuart Mill bears at least one other resemblance to Maria Edgeworth. Like Edgeworth he voiced doubts about the extent to which he might be seen as having produced his own writing. In his Autobiography (1873), Mill emphasizes the exceptional nature of his intellectual development, which leaves him unsure of...
3. Native Property: Young Ireland and the Irish Land Acts in the Victorian Proprietary Landscape
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Both Mill and Edgeworth used the specificity of the Irish situation to imagine how property in Irish land might come to be a unifying rather than an atomizing force, a force that would bring people together even as it barred the state from its precincts. But they employed two competing narratives of property, whose radically different implications made the concept of property itself unstable in...
4. The Wife of State: Ireland and England’s Vicarious Enjoyment in Anthony Trollope’s Palliser Novels
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The famine that was so catastrophic for the Irish proved perversely fruitful for the aspiring social commentator—especially the aspiring social commentator on land ownership. Close to the same time when John Stuart Mill was propounding his theories about the need for peasant proprietorships in Ireland and when Young Ireland were articulating their demands for a national ownership of Ireland,...
5. At Home in the Public Domain: George Moore’s Drama in Muslin, George Meredith’s Diana of the Crossways, and the Intellectual Property of Union
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By the 1880s, British thinking about property had largely transitioned from an assumption that property was a right that existed prior to the law to an assumption that property rights were created and defined by law. Commentators on a wide range of issues showed an increasing acceptance of the idea that the state might create, reassign, or even entirely extinguish rights to property, in the name...
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In The Prime Minister, Sir Alured, the present baronet of “a handsome old family . . . whose forefathers had been baronets since baronets were first created” (113), solemnly instructs his nephew and heir, Everett Wharton, on protocol for allotting property to tenants: “‘I do like the farms to go from father to son, Everett. It’s the way that everything should go. Of course, there’s no...
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Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2012