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Chapter 1 - Reverent Natural History, the Sketch, and the Novel: Modes of English Realism in White, Mitford, and Austen

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 July 2019

Amy M. King
Affiliation:
St John's University, New York
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Summary

Chapter 1 puts Gilbert White’s The Natural History of Selborne in conversation with Mary Russell Mitford’s Our Village and Jane Austen’s Emma. White’s natural history is the seminal text of English reverent natural history, establishing for much of the nineteenth century a model for reverent observation of the ordinary and local natural world. The chapter considers the formal commonalities and broad theoretical underpinnings of a naturalist, a novelist, and a sketch/prose artist. These three genres – reverent natural history, sketch narrative, novel of English provincial realism – offer sustained and reverent attention to the everyday aspects of their natural and social ecologies. Divided into three sections, the chapter considers White, Mitford, and Austen on their own terms, but also as modes of English realism, with Emma as an important predecessor the mid-nineteenth century novels of English provincial realism.

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The Divine in the Commonplace
Reverent Natural History and the Novel in Britain
, pp. 47 - 88
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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