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Download An Uncomfortable Authority: Maria Edgeworth and Her Contexts by Heidi Kaufman, Chris Fauske PDF

By Heidi Kaufman, Chris Fauske

Lately, Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849) has been the topic of accelerating curiosity. a lady, a member of the landholding elite, an educator, and a daughter who lived less than the old shadow of her father, Edgeworth's existence is hard to categorize. satirically, the very points of Edgeworth's id that after excluded her from literary and historic discussions now shape the foundation of present curiosity in her existence and her writing. This selection of essays builds on current scholarship to advance new views approximately Edgeworth's position in English and Irish historical past, literary historical past, and women's historical past. those essays discover the ways that Edgeworth's whole grownup existence used to be an try to reconcile the irreconcilable, an try to justify and guard her personal privileged place while she stated the tenuousness of that place and as she sought to say different privileges denied her.

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Rejecting the existing stage stereotypes of the Irish as an English calumny, it provides a body of utterances and speech acts by the largely unidentified poor, in streets, villages, or courtrooms, as actually heard. Had the authors declared soon after 1798 that their book was a description of the Irish people, they would have met with resistance from readers of the English press particularly. As the book was being written, newspapers of the day carried the horrors of the 1798 uprising, the underground cells, the caches of pikes and guns, an almost inconceivable death toll of thirty thousand.

Granu’’ or ‘‘Granuweal’’ is the name of an unlearned, unaesthetic old woman, signifying Mother Ireland. She probably derives from the aristocratic Gaelic woman whom the English called Grace O’Malley, a chieftain in late sixteenth-century Connaught who fought Gaelic neighbors and the governors Elizabeth I sent to pacify the province. From 1796 Granu seems to have been the favorite popular figure for Ireland in the songs. In the songbook of 1798 she appears in an opening line, rallying her sons to take up arms and if need be to die.

25 Maria Edgeworth apparently followed a contemporary trend when she inserted three chapter-length prose national allegories in the Essay on Irish Bulls. ‘‘Little Dominick,’’ ‘‘The Hibernian Mendicant,’’ and ‘‘The Irish Incognito’’ are not such strict examples of the genre as Swift’s and Emmet’s, though they do observe the basic rules of introducing personifications of each of the three kingdoms, who act out the resentments of England’s two partners. Edgeworth appears to play down and weaken the political allegory by introducing other genres that serve to naturalize her three stories—a child’s experience of boarding school; a tragic ballad, in which two lovers (England and Ireland) fight over the same Irish girl, and kill her; and, in ‘‘The Irish Incognito,’’ a cross-fertilization of sentimental stage comedy and Lucianic fantasy.

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