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Formative FictionsNationalism, Cosmopolitanism, and the "Bildungsroman"$
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Tobias Boes

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801451775

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801451775.001.0001

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Long-Distance Fantasies: Freytag, Eliot, and National Literature in the Age of Empire

Long-Distance Fantasies: Freytag, Eliot, and National Literature in the Age of Empire

Chapter:
(p.101) 4 Long-Distance Fantasies: Freytag, Eliot, and National Literature in the Age of Empire
Source:
Formative Fictions
Author(s):

Tobias Boes

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9780801451775.003.0005

This chapter examines two novels that were written in response to a crisis in liberal-national ideology in the middle of the nineteenth century: Gustav Freytag's Debit and Credit and George Eliot's Daniel Deronda. This pairing is unusual, not the least because Freytag's anti-Semitism starkly contrasts with Eliot's proto-Zionism. However, both these texts can be read as responses to the rise of modern imperialism, a political development that was frequently justified with new forms of historical emplotment, such as Social Darwinism. Imperialism poses a significant threat to liberal-national ideology, because it unites different ethnic and cultural groups within a single state, and thereby challenges the traditional foundations of national communities.

Keywords:   Gustav Freytag, George Eliot, imperialism, anti-Semitism, proto-Zionism, liberal-national ideology

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