Romance's Rival: Familiar Marriage in Victorian Fiction by Talia SchafferRomance's Rival: Familiar Marriage in Victorian Fiction by Talia Schaffer

Romance's Rival: Familiar Marriage in Victorian Fiction

byTalia Schaffer

Hardcover | February 16, 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 reads the marriage plot from the woman's point of view, Schaffer inquires why a female character might legitimately wish to marry for something other than passion. Forthe past half-century, scholars have valorized desire, individuality, and autonomy in the way we read novels; Romance's Rival asks us to look at the other side, to validate the yearning for work, family, company, or social power as legitimate reasons for women's marital choices in Victorian fiction.Comprehensive in its knowledge of several generations of scholarship on the novel, Romance's Rival convinces us to re-examine assumptions about the nature and function of marriage and the role of the novel in helping us not simply imagine marriage but also process changing ideas about what it mightlook like and how it might serve people.
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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Title:Romance's Rival: Familiar Marriage in Victorian FictionFormat:HardcoverDimensions:352 pages, 9.41 × 6.42 × 1.42 inPublished:February 16, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190465093

ISBN - 13:9780190465094

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgementsPreface1. Theorizing Victorian Marriage2. Historicizing Marriage, Developing the Marriage Plot3. Neighbor Marriage: Loving the Squire4. Cousin Marriage: Reading on the Contrary5. Disability Marriage: Communities of Care in the Victorian Novel6. Vocational Marriage, or, Why Marriage Doesn't WorkBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"In the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century marriage plots we all thought we knew so well, Talia Schaffer has discovered a surprisingly formidable rival to the rebellious impulses of romantic love: the communitarian urges of familiar affection. While exploring the dynamic interactions of thesetwo drives in the novels, she takes us on a fascinating tour of the changing and competing modes of subjectivity, desire, and individual agency." --Catherine Gallagher, author of The Body Economic: Life, Death, and Sensation in Political Economy and the Victorian Novel