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Philanthropy in British and American Fiction

Dickens, Hawthorne, Eliot and Howells

Frank Christianson

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During the 19th century the U.S. and Britain came to share an economic profile unparalleled in their respective histories. This book suggests that this early high capitalism came to serve as the ground for a new kind of cosmopolitanism in the age of literary realism, and argues for the necessity of a transnational analysis based upon economic relationships of which people on both sides of the Atlantic were increasingly conscious. The nexus of this exploration of economics, aesthetics and moral philosophy is philanthropy.

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1. From Sympathy to Altruism: The Roots of Philanthropic Discourse
2. Dickensian Realism and Telescopic Philanthropy
3. Hawthorne's 'Cold Fancy' and the Revision of Sympathetic Exchange
4. Altruism's Conquest of Modern Generalization in Eliot
5. William Dean Howells's Altrurian Aesthetic in the Modern Marketplace
Works Cited


Philanthropy in British and American Fiction avoids becoming simply yet another account of how nineteenth-century novelists, for all their sympathetic accounts of the poor, used their art for the consolidation of bourgeois hegemony, by making important claims about the parallels between philanthrophy and literary realism.
- Times Literary Supplement

Christianson persuades us that the relationships among philanthropy, sentimentalism, realism, class, and professionalism are suggestive and worthy of sustained analysis.

- SEL - Studies in English Literature 1500-1900

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