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Family, Kinship, and Sympathy in Nineteenth-Century American Literature
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In Family, Kinship, and Sympathy in Nineteenth-Century American Literature Cindy Weinstein radically revises our understanding of nineteenth-century sentimental literature in the United States. She argues that these novels are far more complex than critics have suggested. Rather than confirming the power of the bourgeois family, Weinstein argues, sentimental fiction used the destruction of the biological family as an opportunity to reconfigure the family in terms of love rather than consanguinity. Their texts intervened in debates about slavery, domestic reform and other social issues of the time. Weinstein shows how canonical texts, such as Melville's Pierre and works by Stowe and Twain, can take on new meaning when read in the context of nineteenth-century sentimental fiction. Through intensive close readings of a wide range of novels, this groundbreaking study demonstrates the aesthetic and political complexities in this important and influential genre.

Reviews

"Editor of The Cambridge Companion to Harriet Beecher Stowe, Weinstein includes Stowe with several other women writers in this important new analysis of the sentimental novel. Highly recommended." CHOICE

"Weinstein's new interpretive paradigm actually does what it sets out to do: it illuminates American literary history by revealing how sentimental novels elaborate a republican ideal in which each family member's rights are guaranteed not by status but by contract."
Marianne Noble, The New England Quarterly

"Weinstein seems motivated not only by a genuine curiosity regarding the odd repetitions in so many of these sentimental novels--she reads with a keenly-tuned sensibility, picking up an astonishing number of echoing phrases and plot lines--but also by the desire for less hostile readings of sentimental fiction than we have seen lately." - Kristin Boudreau, The University of Georgia Studies in American Fiction

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