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Forms of EmpireThe Poetics of Victorian Sovereignty$
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Nathan K. Hensley

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198792451

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198792451.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 16 September 2021

The Philosophy of Romance Form

The Philosophy of Romance Form

(p.194) 4 The Philosophy of Romance Form
Forms of Empire

Nathan K. Hensley

Oxford University Press

This chapter locates the origins of the modern novel form in the sovereignty crises of the late Victorian state. The coterie of Andrew Lang, Rider Haggard, and R. L. Stevenson reconceived the novelistic categories of action and event in response to the so-called small wars blooming at the edges of a British world system in decline. The man responsible for shaping Haggard’s style, Lang, drew on his studies of Homeric epic to brand those tales as alternatives to the character-driven, Jamesian mode William Dean Howells argued was proper to a rising American world order. In light of these transatlantic “realism wars” (as Lang branded them), Haggard’s epics read as stylistic engagements with an inter-imperial rivalry England was then losing. Stevenson refigures this dispute still further, allegorizing as genre dispute the seemingly atavistic emergence of brute violence from “one of those fellows who do what you call good.”

Keywords:   H. Rider Haggard, Henry James, William Dean Howells, Andrew Lang, realism, war, romance, translation, international law, human rights

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