By Robert Mcclure Smith, Ellen Weinauer (eds.)
Elizabeth Stoddard used to be a talented author of fiction, poetry, and journalism; effectively released inside her personal lifetime; esteemed by way of such writers as William Dean Howells and Nathaniel Hawthorne; and located on the epicenter of latest York's literary international. still, she has been virtually excluded from literary reminiscence and significance. This booklet seeks to appreciate why. through reconsidering Stoddard’s lifestyles and paintings and her present marginal prestige within the evolving canon of yank literary stories, it increases very important questions on women’s writing within the nineteenth century and canon formation within the twentieth century.
Essays during this learn find Stoddard within the context of her contemporaries, corresponding to Dickinson and Hawthorne, whereas others situate her paintings within the context of significant 19th-century cultural forces and matters, between them the Civil warfare and Reconstruction, race and ethnicity, anorexia and feminine invalidism, nationalism and localism, and incest. One essay examines the advance of Stoddard's paintings within the gentle of her biography, and others probe her stylistic and philosophic originality, the journalistic roots of her voice, and the elliptical issues of her brief fiction. Stoddard’s lifelong venture to articulate the character and dynamics of woman's subjectivity, her tough therapy of girl urge for food and should, and her depiction of the complicated and infrequently ambivalent relationships that white middle-class girls needed to their family areas also are thoughtfully considered.
The editors argue that the forget of Elizabeth Stoddard's contribution to American literature is a compelling instance of the contingency of severe values and the instability of literary background. This examine asks the query, Will Stoddard endure?” Will she proceed to float into oblivion or will a brand new iteration of readers and critics safe her tenuous legacy?
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Extra info for American Culture, Canons, and the Case of Elizabeth Stoddard
5. Letter from Elizabeth Stoddard to Margaret Sweat, 24 August 1853. Allison-Shelley Collection, Pennsylvania State U Libraries. By permission. 6. Letter from Elizabeth Stoddard to Margaret Sweat, 23 December 1852. Allison-Shelley Collection, Pennsylvania State U Libraries. By permission. 7. Letter from Elizabeth Stoddard to Margaret Sweat, 4 June 1853. AllisonShelley Collection, Pennsylvania State U Libraries. By permission. 8. Their close friend Edmund Clarence Stedman described it thus: “Their loves and hates were, without exception, the same—right or wrong, and often although they were wrong, each espoused the other’s cause, and favoritisms.
An appreciative audience proved a great stimulus, and she took obvious pleasure in expressing herself freely in print. ” she notes in one letter (20 July 1856); in another, opposing the newly passed Maine Liquor Law, she likens to her “doubt whether law can keep a man sober” her “doubt whether purity can be legislated into men by the imprisonment of lewd women” (19 May 1855). She also seems to have seen the masculine makeup of her readership as an opportunity for positioning herself as a unique woman—and a unique writer.
And for Stoddard, commercial success—as much as, if not more than, critical respect—represented a tangible validation of worth. Her volume’s commercial failure may have af¤rmed her sense of her poems’ “feeble existence,” but there is little indication that she considered her poems, the work of a lifetime, to have a “feeble” worth. “I have seen no blaze on the river as yet,” she informs her sympathetic reader. The ¤nal two words are telling in their implication that Stoddard was as ambitious for the success of her poetry as for her ¤ction.