Recognizing the Romantic Novel: New Histories of British Fiction, 1780-1830

Jillian Heydt-Stevenson, Charlotte Sussman


Liverpool University Press

The British Romantic era was a vibrant and exciting time in the history of the novel. Yet, aside from a few iconic books -Pride and Prejudice, Frankenstein-it has been ignored or dismissed by later readers and critics. Bringing this rich but neglected body of works to the fore, Recognizing the Romantic Novel: New Histories of British Fiction, 1780-1830 challenges us to rethink our ideas of the novel as a genre, as well as our long-held assumptions about the literary movement of Romanticism. Ranging from pre-Revolution to post-Waterloo, this volume celebrates the experimental drive and revisionary spirit of the Romantic novel. With essays on authors ranging from Burney to Austen to Hogg, it argues that the Romantic-era novel can be understood as a field, not simply a heterogeneous mass of fictional forms-a field, furthermore, that can hold its own against more widely read eighteenth-century and Victorian novels. Eleven essays by prominent scholars in the field demonstrate that previously unexplored contexts can help us recognize even familiar Romantic-era novels in new and fuller ways. These essays thoughtfully explore such varied concerns as the critique of Enlightenment ideals, the close affiliation between poetry and prose, a fraught engagement with politico-ethical issues, the limits of our access to and understanding of the past, and a rethinking of communities outside the conventions of the marriage plot.