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The Origins of the English Marriage Plot
Literature, Politics and Religion in the Eighteenth Century

AUD$136.95 inc GST

  • Date Published: July 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108485685

AUD$ 136.95 inc GST

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About the Authors
  • Why did marriage become central to the English novel in the eighteenth century? As clandestine weddings and the unruly culture that surrounded them began to threaten power and property, questions about where and how to marry became urgent matters of public debate. In 1753, in an unprecedented and controversial use of state power, Lord Chancellor Hardwicke mandated Anglican church weddings as marriage's only legal form. Resistance to his Marriage Act would fuel a new kind of realist marriage plot in England and help to produce political radicalism as we know it. Focussing on how major authors from Samuel Richardson to Jane Austen made church weddings a lynchpin of their fiction, The Origins of the English Marriage Plot offers a truly innovative account of the rise of the novel by telling the story of the English marriage plot's engagement with the most compelling political and social questions of its time.

    • Offers a novel account of the marriage plot's political, cultural and religious contexts, explaining both the complexity of the genre's origins and its centrality to the development of the realist novel
    • Considers the importance of sham marriages, mock marriages, clandestine weddings and Gretna Green elopements to the English literary tradition
    • Deepens our understanding of Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding and Jane Austen who were the English marriage plot's most important early practitioners
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'With blazingly new postsecular eyes, The Origins of the English Marriage Plot argues that the marriage plot in post-1740 English fiction has as much to do with the church as it does with the state. O'Connell challenges the received wisdom that the novel is a secular form, instead persuasively demonstrating the centrality of its religious politics. This is a history of the novel from the vicar's point of view, and what the vicar reveals are surprisingly rich insights into the period's theo-political debates, as well as animating new readings of Richardson, Fielding and beyond.' Katherine Binhammer, University of Alberta

    'Supported by careful notes and an extensive bibliography, this volume makes a significant contribution to the study of 18th-century fiction and will be welcomed by specialists.' M. H. Kealy, Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108485685
    • length: 320 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.6kg
    • contains: 5 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: historicising the English marriage plot
    1. Church, state and the public politics of marriage
    2. Clandestine marriage, commerce and the theatre
    3. The new fiction: Samuel Richardson and the Anglican wedding
    4. The Patriot Marriage plot: fielding, Shebbeare and Goldsmith
    5. Literary marriage plots: Burney, Austen and Gretna Green

  • Author

    Lisa O'Connell, University of Queensland
    Lisa O'Connell is Senior Lecturer in the School of Communication and Arts at the University of Queensland. She is Vice-President of the Australia and New Zealand Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies and has authored numerous journal articles and book chapters on eighteenth-century literature and culture as well as co-editing Libertine Enlightenment: Sex, Liberty and Licence in the Eighteenth Century (2004).

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