Sovereignty, Race, and Melancholy in the Transatlantic Romantic Novel

in On Lingering and Being Last

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780823229406
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823240982 | DOI:
Sovereignty, Race, and Melancholy in the Transatlantic Romantic Novel

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This chapter offers a different understanding of the role of melancholic discourse in romanticism, whatever may be the attractions of an “interested cosmopolitanism.” The author argues that the melancholy logic of the last produces deterritorializing effects on both sides of the Atlantic, but with a distinctively racialized cast in America. Anglophone romanticism in general was agitated by what he characterized as the political restlessness of a post-tyrannical world. His main focus is on two American novels, Charles Brockden Brown's Edgar Huntly (1799) and John Neal's Logan: A Family History (1822). An initial sense of the essential continuities and crucial differences between the English and American variants of the logic of the last can be gained, if one turns briefly to The Last Man (1826), Shelley's morose novel about the destruction of humankind by a global plague.

Keywords: melancholy; sovereignty; race; romanticism; Charles Brockden Brown; Edgar Huntly; John Neal; The Last Man; Shelley; intelligence

Chapter.  17344 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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