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Romantic Revisions in Novels from the Americas

by Lauren Maxwell Rule

Publication Year: 2013

Why are twentieth-century novelists from former British colonies in the Americas preoccupied with British Romantic poetry? In Romantic Revisions, Lauren Rule Maxwell examines five novels—Kincaid's Lucy, Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, McCarthy's Blood Meridian, Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, and Harris's Palace of the Peacock—that contain crucial scenes engaging British Romantic poetry. Each work adapts figures from British Romantic poetry and translates them into an American context. Kincaid relies on the repeated image of the daffodil, Atwood displaces Lucy, McCarthy upends the American arcadia, Fitzgerald heaps Keatsian images of excess, and Harris transforms the albatross.

Published by: Purdue University Press

Series: Comparative Cultural Studies

Title Page, About the Series, Other Works in the Series, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-9

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pp. ix-11

While writing this book, I have been inspired by and supported by many people. I would like to thank those who challenged and guided me as I began developing this project: Deborah Elise White, Deepika Bahri, Walter Kalaidjian, Mark McWatt, and Martine Watson Brownley. I am especially indebted to my mentor and advisor, Martine Watson Brownley, who has given so much to me and to this project. I ...

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pp. 1-14

This study developed from my desire to understand why twentieth-century Ameri-can novels display a preoccupation with British Romantic poetry and its legacy. In my examination of a diverse group of such novels from former British colonies across the Americas, I have found that each work has crucial scenes that invoke Romantic poetry for a sociopolitical critique of burgeoning US empire. Romantic ...

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Chapter One: Wordsworthian Intertexts in Kincaid's Lucy

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pp. 15-38

I have chosen to focus the first chapter of Romantic Revisions on Kincaid's Lucy because it illustrates the concept that is most crucial for contextualizing the four chapters that follow—that the relationship that postcolonial American writers and their subjects have with the English Romantic tradition varies according to their respective frames of reference. In Lucy, a young Caribbean woman who has recently ...

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Chapter Two: Specters of US Empire in Atwood's Fiction

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pp. 39-67

In her 2002 book on writing, Negotiating with the Dead, Atwood claims that "we are all living in the shadow cast by the Romantic movement, or in the fragments of that shadow" (xxvi). Negotiating with the Dead deals more extensively with the effect of the "Romantic cult of the writer as a great man" on post-Romantic writers than on Romantic poetry itself, but it points toward the importance of the Romantic ...

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Chapter Three: McCarthy's Blood Meridian, Byron, and the US Frontier

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pp. 68-88

While The Handmaid's Tale imagines a possible imperial dystopia in the US, Blood Meridian returns to the 1800s to depict the conflicts that expanded US territory across the North American continent. Both novels invoke Romantic poetry to characterize US empire, but Blood Meridian more specifically portrays how the US developed its imperial power—by appropriating land, by charging discourse with racial distinc -...

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Chapter Four: Keatsian Echoes and US Materialism in The Great Gatsby

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pp. 89-116

In Blood Meridian McCarthy focuses on the violence associated with expanding the US westward, making the human and cultural costs brutally apparent. F. Scott Fitzgerald likewise considers the costs of US empire, but he is concerned primarily with socioeconomic and political commentary. Instead of revisiting the 1800s, Fitzgerald writes on the age he made famous, the Jazz Age, a time when the US was ...

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Chapter Five: The Coleridgean Poetics of Palace of the Peacock

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pp. 117-138

Since its publication in 1960, scholars and critics have heralded Wilson Harris's novel Palace of the Peacock for its revolutionary language and form. Ashcroft, Griffiths, and Tiffin emphasize the significance of Harris's innovation, claiming that his collective works "compromise the most radical experiment in post-colonial cultures of any revolutionary rewriting, through fiction, of the concepts of 'language' and 'history'" ...

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Conclusion: British Legacy in the Americas

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pp. 139-142

In the previous chapters I examine where and how twentieth-century novels from former British colonies in the Americas have appropriated and adapted British Romantic poetry. One conclusion we can draw from these examinations is that Ro-mantic poetry continues to make an impression on postcolonial America. The use of these Romantic texts demonstrates the lasting impact of England on its colonies, ...

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Epilogue: Angels in America Guard and Guide

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pp. 143-157

In the previous chapters and conclusion of Romantic Revisions in Novels from the Americas, I discuss how twentieth-century novels from across the Americas invoke British Romantic poetry to highlight the imprints of British colonialism that continue to shape American sociopolitical landscapes. Returning to British Romantic poetry allows these authors to extend Romantic poetics of landscape that traditionally con-...

Works Cited

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pp. 158-173


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pp. 174-177

E-ISBN-13: 9781612492612
Print-ISBN-13: 9781557536419

Page Count: 187
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Comparative Cultural Studies