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Popular Fiction in the Age of Bismarck

E. Marlitt and her Narrative Strategies


Terry May

E. Marlitt was a bestselling author of the late nineteenth century whose romance novels dominated the German literary market between 1865 and 1888. Her novels appeared in thirty languages, with as many as five different English translations circulating simultaneously in the United States alone. While her name is virtually absent from histories of German literature, recent scholarly studies of individual novels suggest the need to reassess her contributions.
This study is the first in English to examine E. Marlitt’s complete fiction. It situates her prose against the backdrop of women’s discourse and nineteenth-century historical developments in the German Empire. It synthesizes findings of both American and German scholarship to show how her social constructs advanced a liberal political agenda while resisting the conventional view of «natural» gender roles. The book provides a context for recognizing Marlitt’s clever use of the conventionality and acceptability of the romance genre to reposition the image of middle-class women. Her emphasis on personal autonomy, educational opportunities and new fields of professional engagement for women advanced altered images of family, class and national identity. Ultimately, this study of a popular author illuminates domestic, middle-class issues that underwent significant transformations equal to the Empire’s public developments under Bismarck’s politics.
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Series Index


Women in German Literature

Helen Watanabe-O’Kelly, University of Oxford

Series Editor

Women in German Literature is a series of monographs and rigorously edited essay collections focusing on the work of women writers and the representation of women in literature from the Middle Ages to the present day. The series contributes to efforts to broaden the German canon by publishing pioneering studies of work by women as well as cutting-edge assessments of relatively well-known women writers. This includes studies of the participation of women in German intellectual life and in the struggle for rights. The other major concern of the series is the representation of women in literature and media. Studies on this topic offer fresh perspectives on canonical texts and writers and analyse existing tropes that are often still dominant in German cultural life today.

1 Helga S. Madland, Marianne Ehrmann: Reason and Emotion in Her Life and Works. 340 pp. 1998. US-ISBN 0-8204-3929-0

2 Ludmila Kaloyanova-Slavova, Übergangsgeschöpfe: Gabriele Reuter, Hedwig Dohm, Helene Böhlau und Franziska von Reventlow. 200 pp. 1998. US-ISBN 0-8204-3962-2

3 Forthcoming.

4 Albrecht Classen, Frauen in der deutschen Literaturgeschichte. Die ersten 800 Jahre. Ein Lesebuch. 337 pp. 2000. US-ISBN 0-8204-4109-0

5 Luise Büchner (Translated by Susan L. Piepke), Women and their Vocation: A Nineteenth-Century View. 127 pp. 1999. US-ISBN 0-8204-4142-2

6 Moira R. Rogers, Newtonianism for the Ladies and Other Uneducated Souls: The Popularization of...

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