Not Quite Hope and Other Political Emotions in the Gilded Age

Nathan Wolff

Anno: 2018
Rilegatura: Hardback
Pagine: 256 p.
Testo in English
Dimensioni: 242 x 164 mm
Peso: 518 gr.
  • EAN: 9780198831693
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Not Quite Hope and Other Political Emotions in the Gilded Age argues that late nineteenth-century US fiction grapples with and helps to conceptualize the disagreeable feelings that are both a threat to citizens' agency and an inescapable part of the emotional life of democracy-then as now. In detailing the corruption and venality for which the period remains known, authors including Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Henry Adams, and Helen Hunt Jackson evoked the depressing inefficacy of reform, the lunatic passions of the mob, and the revolting appetites of lobbyists and office seekers. Readers and critics of these Washington novels, historical romances, and satiric romans a clef have denounced these books' fiercely negative tone, seeing it as a sign of elitism and apathy. The volume argues, in contrast, that their distrust of politics is coupled with an intense investment in it. Chapters examine both common and idiosyncratic forms of political emotion, including 'crazy love', disgust, cynicism, 'election fatigue', and the myriad feelings of hatred and suspicion provoked by the figure of the hypocrite. In so doing, the book corrects critics' too-narrow focus on 'sympathy' as the American novel's model political emotion. We think of reform novels as fostering feeling for fellow citizens or for specific causes. This volume argues that Gilded Age fiction refocuses attention on the unstable emotions that shape our relation to politics as such. It also positions this literature's fraught fascination with formal politics as a necessary counterpoint to histories of US literature that focus only on the nineteenth-century novel's anti-institutional imaginaries.