Abstract

In the 1890s, the image of the New Woman swept through Victorian England. The New Woman shone a spotlight on the issue of women’s rights, providing an impetus for critical discourse, whether for or against, and creating a literary tradition all her own. At the center of this literary tradition is Sarah Grand’s The Heavenly Twins (1893), and at the center of The Heavenly Twins is the as-yet-overlooked cathedral chime. Throughout Grand’s novel, the chime appears so frequently it almost becomes a character unto itself. Taken from the famous Mendelssohn oratorio Elijah, the chime, whose lyrics read, “He, watching over Israel, slumbers not, nor sleeps,” maintains a steady rhythm in the novel, punctuating the narrative with its both comforting and threatening voice. By examining the cultural environment in which Grand wrote, the contemporary response to Elijah by which she may have been influenced, and the context in which the chime appears in The Heavenly Twins, I argue that the chime functions as a litmus test of the characters’ acceptance of patriarchal values and as a marker of an impending prophetic moment, thus making music play a pivotal role in Grand’s New Woman novel.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2161-427X
Print ISSN
1524-8429
Pages
pp. 348-365
Launched on MUSE
2014-09-11
Open Access
No
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