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Philip Hepburn, Stephen Freeman and the American Context of Sylvia’s Lovers

Emma Sdegno    Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Italia    



Sylvia’s Lovers is a novel about war. It is a historical novel set in the years 1793-1800 during the Napoleonic wars, and written by Elizabeth Gaskell in the years 1859-1862 when the American Civil War broke out, in April 1861. Examining Gaskell’s correspondence with Charles Eliot Norton in the years 1861-63 and the articles Norton wrote in support of the War and the anti-slavery cause, this paper explores the way in which the news coming from America and the debates on the contemporary events left a significant mark on the second part of the novel. The implied reference to the context of the American Civil War would shed new light on Gaskell’s narrative choices concerning the plot and the main male character’s development, which has been substantially overlooked.

30 Ottobre 2023
03 Luglio 2023
18 Maggio 2023

Keywords: Elizabeth GaskellAnti-Slavery movementsCharles Eliot NortonAmerican Civil WarSylvia’s LoversThe Advantages of DefeatNapoleonic Wars

Copyright: © 2023 Emma Sdegno. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.