Intertextuality, female alliance and literary genealogy in the eighteenth-century British novel
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This dissertation attempts to construct a genealogy of intertextual relations between generations of women in the eighteenth-century British novelistic tradition. Reading generational relations between women novelists in terms of literary mother-daughter relations, it examines how literary daughters negotiate with patriarchy and attempt to recover their lost connections with their literary mothers and how their employment of the familial metaphor reflects their relations with their literary parents. The growing confidence of later women novelists and scholars was possible through their intertextual connections with early women novelists, who had assumed a sort of women's context and established a class of professional women writers. The novelists discussed here--Eliza Haywood, Charlotte Lennox, Elizabeth Inchbald and Maria Edgeworth--represent different generations of the eighteenth century and situate their novels within a literary genealogy they have inherited. Writing consciously as women, they portray in their novels educational relations between women and pass on experience and knowledge needed to a female audience. Although my discussion focuses on female genealogy, I include Samuel Richardson, who displaces a maternal tradition and elevates himself as the founder of a new genealogy of moralistic fiction--influencing the themes and forms of his literary daughters' novels. Chapter 1 shows how Haywood's career registers the genealogical struggles at the beginning of the history of the novel and how she rewrites her amatory narratives and legitimizes her authority as an educator. Chapter 2 looks at how Richardson appropriates earlier novels and how his portrayal of family relations reflects hegemonic conflicts in the history of novel. Chapter 3 investigates how Lennox negotiates her acceptance in an overtly patriarchal culture at mid-century and at the same time, seeks a possibility of connection with early women novelists. Chapter 4 illustrates how Inchbald allegorizes a female genealogy in her portrayal of two generations of women and their relationships with a paternal figure. Chapter 5 demonstrates how Edgeworth's first and last novels embody the traces of literary mothers' texts and the progress of the novelistic tradition. I argue that these novelists envision a community of women, portraying what Irigaray calls, "two dimensional relationships" among women, vertical and horizontal.