Remaking Romantic Love in Maria Edgeworth’s 'Belinda'

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Abstract

The emphasis on the unique self in the Romantic period resulted in representations of romantic love as an aspect of psychological depth. However, in Maria Edgeworth’s novel, Belinda (1901), love is represented as a function of visceral sensation and at best as automatic rather than reflective psychological processes. To some degree, Edgeworth was influenced by the scientific culture of her time in viewing love as a product of the external, observable world rather than of the interior mind. More surprisingly, perhaps, Edgeworth considers love as a function of high society, thus breaking down symptomatic associations of love and domesticity. In Belinda, love is a product of both the logical scientific method and the questionable morality characteristic of fashionable sociability. Standing partially outside the Romantic emphasis on psychological depth and the empirical insistence on rationality, Edgeworth theorises a love that questions the foundational concepts of subject/object and feeling/reason through which love has been understood from the Romantic era to the present day.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-187
Number of pages18
JournalThe European Legacy: Toward New Paradigms
Volume26
Issue number2
Early online date30 Nov 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Belinda
  • Maria Edgeworth
  • Romantic
  • love
  • nineteenth-century literature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Philosophy

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