Nineteenth-Century English Afterlives

Terence Cave

in Mignon's Afterlives

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199604807
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731624 | DOI:
Nineteenth-Century English Afterlives

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The chapter begins with Carlyle’s landmark translation of Wilhelm Meister and its preface, which singles Mignon out for lyrical praise. It then passes to Walter Scott’s romance Peveril of the Peak, published in the same decade, where the character Fenella is explicitly based on Mignon. Three of Bulwer Lytton’s experiments in the Bildungsroman, all of which have characters belonging to the Mignon family, and which exhibit a combination of high moral tone and exotic fantasy, represent the next phase of Mignon’s naturalization in Britain. Subsequently, the interest of George Eliot and George Henry Lewes in Goethe’s novel, first displayed publicly in the 1850s, forms the prelude to a discussion of Caterina (in ‘Mr Gilfil’s Love Story’) and Mirah (in Daniel Deronda) as complex responses to Mignon’s story. The later spread of the Mignon craze to England is charted via a number of popular novels by women writers.

Keywords: romance; Bildungsroman; Carlyle; Walter Scott; Bulwer Lytton; George Eliot; George Henry Lewes; Mignon craze; popular novels; women writers

Chapter.  21082 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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