Remaking Romantic Love in Maria Edgeworth’s 'Belinda'

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The emphasis on the unique self in the Romantic period resulted in representations of romantic love that understand the emotion as an aspect of psychological depth. In contrast, Maria Edgeworth’s 1801 novel, 'Belinda', represents love as function of visceral sensation and, at best, automatic (rather than reflective) psychological processes. To some degree, Edgeworth’s concept of love is influenced by the scientific culture she was implicated in, and in this sense she understands the emotion 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, breaking down symptomatic associations of Edgeworth with domesticity. In 'Belinda', love is a product of both the logical scientific method and the questionable morality characteristic of fashionable sociability. Standing partially outside of both the Romantic emphasis on psychological depth and the empirical insistence on rationality, Edgeworth theorises a love which cannot be accommodated in the terms through which we have often understood the emotion from the Romantic era to the present day. In this way, love in 'Belinda' questions the foundational concepts of subject/object and emotive/logical upon which many theories of love depend.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)(In-press)
JournalThe European Legacy: Toward New Paradigms
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 16 Feb 2020


  • Edgeworth
  • Romantic
  • nineteenth century
  • Belind
  • love

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