Romance's Rival: Familiar Marriage in Victorian Fiction

ISBN : 9780190465094

Talia Schaffer
352 Pages
163 x 238 mm
Pub date
Feb 2016
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Romance's Rival argues that the central plot of the most important genre of the nineteenth century, the marriage plot novel, means something quite different from what we thought. In Victorian novels, women may marry for erotic desire-but they might, instead, insist on "familiar marriage," marrying trustworthy companions who can offer them socially rich lives and futures of meaningful work. Romance's Rival shows how familiar marriage expresses ideas of female subjectivity dating back through the seventeenth century, while romantic marriage felt like a new, risky idea. Undertaking a major rereading of the rise-of-the-novel tradition, from Richardson through the twentieth century, Talia Schaffer rethinks what the novel meant if one tracks familiar-marriage virtues. This alternative perspective offers new readings of major texts (Austen, the Brontes, Eliot, Trollope) but it also foregrounds women's popular fiction (Yonge, Oliphant, Craik, Broughton). Offering a feminist perspective that


Chapter 1: Theorizing Victorian Marriage
Chapter 2: Historicizing Marriage, Developing the Marriage Plot
Chapter 3: Neighbor Marriage: Loving the Squire
Chapter 4: Cousin Marriage: Reading on the Contrary
Chapter 5: Disability Marriage: Communities of Care in the Victorian Novel
Chapter 6: Vocational Marriage, or, Why Marriage Doesn't Work

About the author: 

Talia Schaffer is Professor of English at Queens College and The Graduate Center, City University of New York. She is the author of Novel Craft: Victorian Domestic Handicraft and Nineteenth-Century Fiction and The Forgotten Female Aesthetes: Literary Culture in Late-Victorian England.

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