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The Jewess in Nineteenth-Century British Literary Culture
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 (ISBN-13: 9780511276446)

Stories about Jewesses proliferated in nineteenth-century Britain as debates about the place of the Jews in the nation raged. While previous scholarship has explored the prevalence of antisemitic stereotypes in this period, Nadia Valman argues that the figure of the Jewess - virtuous, appealing and sacrificial - reveals how hostility towards Jews was accompanied by pity, identification and desire. Reading a range of texts from popular romance to the realist novel, she investigates how the complex figure of the Jewess brought the instabilities of nineteenth-century religious, racial and national identity into uniquely sharp focus. Tracing the narrative of the Jewess from its beginnings in Romantic and Evangelical literature, and reading canonical writers including Walter Scott, George Eliot and Anthony Trollope alongside more minor figures such as Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna, Grace Aguilar and Amy Levy, Valman demonstrates the remarkable persistence of this narrative and its myriad transformations across the century.

• A comprehensive study of the figure of the Jewess in English literature • A fresh perspective on relations between Christians and Jews in Victorian England • Introduces the work of undiscovered Victorian Jewish writers


1. Introduction: the Jewess question; 2. Repellent beauty: the liberal nation and the Jewess; 3. Jewish persuasions: gender and the culture of conversion; 4. Women of Israel: femininity, politics and Anglo-Jewish fiction; 5. Hellenist heroines: commerce, art and the Jewess; 6. The shadow of the harem: fin de siècle racial romance; 7. Conclusion: neither wild thing nor tame; Bibliography; Index.


Review of the hardback: '… subtle and persuasive study …Valman's careful historicization illuminates the way this recurring pattern was adapted …She represented a complicated tissue of ideas that have been delicately unpicked in this intelligent book.' The Times Literary Supplement

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