This exploration of gender and property ownership in eight important novels argues that property is a decisive undercurrent in narrative structures and modes, as well as an important gender signature in society and culture. Tim Dolin suggests that the formal development of nineteenth-century domestic fiction can only be understood in the context of changes in the theory and laws of property: indeed femininity and its representation cannot be considered separately from property relations and their reform. He presents original readings of novels in which a woman owns, acquires or loses property, focusing on exchanges between patriarchal cultural authority, the 'woman question' and narrative form, and on the place of domestic fiction in a culture in which property relations and gender relations are subject to radical review. Each chapter revolves around a representative text, but refers substantially to other material, both other novels and contemporary social, legal, political and feminist commentary.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction; Women, property and victorian fiction; A woman, and something more: Shirley; Cranford and its belongings; ’He could get, but not keep’: Villette; Crimes of property: The Moonstone; Hardy’s uncovered women; Mistress of herself: Diana of the Crossways; Appendix 1: A brief summary of the laws concerning women (1854); Appendix 2: The Caroline Norton affair; Bibliography; Index.
’the readings of [Dolin’s] chosen works..are attentive to both important textual details and relevant historical contexts.’ Nineteenth-Century Literature ’Dolin does not make sustained arguements so much as a series of fine distinctions and evocative insights. But these critical coruscations are so smart, stylish, and thought-provoking, that they are bound to light up bigger ideas for each reader. It is an eciting addition to a rapidly growing field.’ Talia Schaffer, Victorian Studies