By Robert Mcclure Smith, Ellen Weinauer (eds.)
Elizabeth Stoddard used to be a talented author of fiction, poetry, and journalism; effectively released inside her personal lifetime; esteemed by means of such writers as William Dean Howells and Nathaniel Hawthorne; and positioned on the epicenter of recent York's literary international. still, she has been nearly excluded from literary reminiscence and significance. This ebook seeks to appreciate why. via reconsidering Stoddard’s lifestyles and paintings and her present marginal prestige within the evolving canon of yankee literary stories, it increases vital questions on women’s writing within the nineteenth century and canon formation within the twentieth century.
Essays during this research find Stoddard within the context of her contemporaries, reminiscent of Dickinson and Hawthorne, whereas others situate her paintings within the context of significant 19th-century cultural forces and concerns, between them the Civil warfare and Reconstruction, race and ethnicity, anorexia and feminine invalidism, nationalism and localism, and incest. One essay examines the improvement of Stoddard's paintings within the gentle of her biography, and others probe her stylistic and philosophic originality, the journalistic roots of her voice, and the elliptical subject matters of her brief fiction. Stoddard’s lifelong venture to articulate the character and dynamics of woman's subjectivity, her hard therapy of lady urge for food and should, and her depiction of the complicated and sometimes ambivalent relationships that white middle-class ladies needed to their household areas also are thoughtfully considered.
The editors argue that the overlook of Elizabeth Stoddard's contribution to American literature is a compelling instance of the contingency of severe values and the instability of literary heritage. This learn asks the query, Will Stoddard endure?” Will she proceed to float into oblivion or will a brand new iteration of readers and critics safe her tenuous legacy?
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Extra resources for American Culture, Canons, and the Case of Elizabeth Stoddard
Here, the exceptional nature of the heroine’s experiences contrasts with the spectacle of her women relatives’ stulti¤ed lives and the incapacities that shackle most of the novel’s men, while the religious skepticism and general sense of existential precariousness that pervade the novel shadow the possibility of any lasting happiness. One of the earmarks of The Morgesons is the disjuncture between its plot and its commitment to expressing subjectivity. Although the plot seemingly follows a conventional bildungsroman formula, many individual scenes are compelling because of an intensity of desire and expression that has no direct bearing on narrative line and often exceeds the narrative economy of bildungsroman.
The destiny of the signi¤cantly named Cassandra Morgeson, like those of the heroines of works of domestic woman’s ¤ction, ¤nally includes marriage and home management. Yet, in contrast to writers like Chesebro’ or Susan Warner, Stoddard is deeply concerned with her heroine’s sexuality and desire for spiritual and economic autonomy. In exploring Cassandra’s subjectivity and the barriers to its full expression, she draws heavily on the kind of female gothic of which the Brontës made successful use (and that many writers of conventional domestic woman’s novels avoided), suggesting extensive connections between Cassandra’s psychic and sexual development and her social circumstances.
By permission. 15. Elizabeth Stoddard, Daily Alta California 7 February 1856. Subsequent references to Stoddard’s columns will be cited parenthetically by date of publication. 16. Letters from Elizabeth Stoddard to Edmund Clarence Stedman, 4 May 1860, 12 July 1863, 21 August 1891. Qtd. in Stoddard, The Morgesons and Other Writings. 17. Although she could not formulate alternatives to the prevailing concepts of realism and romanticism, she foundered when she tried to explain her work within this framework, insisting to Stedman, when a commentator credited her with the rise of realism, “I am not realistic—I am romantic, the very bareness and simplicity of my work is a trap for its romance—alas my characters are gilded” (letter from Elizabeth Stoddard to Edmund Clarence Stedman, 21 Aug.