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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: May 2009

12 - The homes of England

from Part II - Geographies: The Scenes of Literary Life
In the homes of England, Romantic writers struggled to fix the proper boundaries between publicity and privacy. Economic, political and ideological developments underline the antinomies of domestic space in Romantic writing. Wordsworth's depiction of the happy cottage as a sociable site of natural productivity seamlessly integrated with its surrounding environment is rehearsed by Romantic writers. Illuminated by Romanesque windows and adorned with mock-Tudor furniture, medievalized versions of the cottage orne'e participated in a wider Gothic revival in which castles and converted abbeys enjoyed symbolic pride of place. If Northanger Abbey attempts to reclaim the Gothic interior for a new, enclosed form of domesticity, containment is achieved in the stately homes that form the prime locations of Austen's fiction. The resistance of women authors to strict demarcations between public and private realms is noteworthy in Romantic writing. The transition from the open, public domesticity so characteristic of Romantic writing to the cloying, claustrophobic private households of Victorian literature was never total.
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The Cambridge History of English Romantic Literature
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