Edgeworth, Maria. (1767 - 1849).
L i f e
- closely connected with Ireland: her understanding based on her grasp both of her family and the Irish nation’s history
- sympathised with the oppressed Catholic majority x but: contradictorily also convinced of the superiority of English manners
- cherished the visionary hope of the regeneration both of the landowning aristocracy and its nation
W o r k
E a r l y W r i t i n g s :
- feminism: critical especially of the inadequacy of women’s education
Letters to Literary Ladies (1795):
- a feminist essay
The Parent’s Assistant (1796 – 1800):
- children's short stories in several volumes
Practical Education (1798):
- in collaboration with her father
I r i s h N o v e l s :
- subtle, comic discourses on the present state of society
- uses an interplay of voices: the author, editor, and annotator
- set immediately before/after the Act of Union (1801)
- attempts to counter a potential alienation of the land-owning class from its tenantry
Castle Rackrent (1800):
- probably the first novel to represent society in a specific region and historical period => the first true regional novel and historical novel
- probably also the first family saga, and the first novel to use an unreliable narrator: an observer of, rather than a player in, the actions he chronicles
- follows the four generations of the Rackrent family, their inheritance, conversion, failure, and dislodgement
- includes a pointed glossary ‘for the information of the ignorant English reader’ interpreting both the way of speaking and of observing
The Absentee (1812):
- ‘absentees’ = voluntary aristocratic exiles from Ireland
- concerned with the desertion of Ireland by the aristocracy drawn by the magnet of English fashion after the Union
- the Lady’s attempts to buy her way into the London high society are ridiculed, the Lord’s finances ruined as a result of his wife’s lifestyle, and the debts are paid by their sensitive son on condition of their return
- shows the necessity of return of the aristocracy to their tenants
- hopes for the revival of principle, good example, and leadership
(Picture: Wikimedia Commons).
AuthorMaria Edgeworth. (1767 - 1849). Anglo-Irish.
WorkNovelist. Prose writer. Author of Castle Rackrent (1800).
GenresRomanticism. Regionalism. Feminism.
Abrams, Meyer Howard, ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993.
Barnard, Robert. Stručné dějiny anglické literatury. Praha: Brána, 1997.
Baugh, Albert C. ed. A Literary History of England. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1967.
Coote, Stephen. The Penguin Short History of English Literature. London: Penguin, 1993.
Sampson, George. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1946.
Sanders, Andrew. The Short Oxford History of English Literature. New York: Clarendon Press, 1994.
"No; this young lady was quite above all double-dealing; she had no mental reservation—no metaphysical subtleties—but, with plain, unsophisticated morality, in good faith and simple truth, acted as she professed, thought what she said, and was that which she seemed to be."
From The Absentee (1812).