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The Novels of Mrs. Oliphant

A Subversive View of Traditional Themes

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Margarete Rubik

Margarete Oliphant (1828-1897) has long been decried as a conventional hack. This study shows that she was, in fact, an original and quite subversive writer, who radically re-interpreted traditional motifs and challenged values and ideals sacrosanct to the age. In her novels she turned upside down Victorian stereotypes of gender roles, marriage and family hierarchy, presented religious questions, death-bed scenes and the hereafter from a new and unconventional angle, and in her portrayal dispensed with models almost all of her contemporaries were content to follow. She deserves a permanent place in the gallery of nineteenth-century authors.