This book traces Stoddard's emergence as a writer in the 1850s, her conflict-ridden relationships with the writers associated with the genteel tradition, and her efforts to negotiate the boundaries of Victorian culture in the United States. While in many ways a critic of nineteenth-century bourgeois culture, Stoddard remained in other ways an adherent; her work was not a rejection of bourgeois culture but a reworking of it, which suggests that bourgeois culture was not as monlithic as later critics believed. Recovering the richness and possibility that characterized early Victorian writing, this book examines the range of literary expression which had existed at mid-century, a period that boasts some of American literature's most iconoclastic voices.

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