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date: 18 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Surveying Victorian reviews of American novels, this essays tracks how British reviewers changed their views of the American novel over the course of the nineteenth century. In the first half of the century, the unimpeded traffic in books across the Atlantic created a literary world in which the American novel was largely patronized or ignored. At mid century, however, the growth of the American publishing industry made America a force to be reckoned with, and the success of Uncle Tom’s Cabin taught British reviewers that American novels could be just as popular as British, while the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne taught them that American novels could be just as artful. In the second half of the nineteenth century, Britain and America settled into a more equal trans-Atlantic exchange. A new school of American novelists, led by William Dean Howells and Henry James, argued that the American novel had outpaced the British, and British reviewers responded by turning away from a realism identified with America and toward a putatively more British romance.

Keywords: Charles Dickens, Coventry Patmore, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Margaret Oliphant, William Dean Howells, Henry James, publishing, copy right, realism, romance, trans-Atlantic relations

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