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Title:Adulterous Nations: Family Politics and National Identity in the European Novel
Author(s):Kuzmic, Tatiana
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Murav, Harriet
Department / Program:Comparative Literature
Discipline:Comparative Literature
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Slavic and East European
Abstract:The dissertation examines the figure of the adulterous heroine of the nineteenth-century European novel as a symbol of national anxieties. The gendering of a nation or a nation-like collectivity as female has a long history, evident in expressions such as "Mother Earth" or "Mother Russia" and in myths considered foundational to modern European literature, such as Europa's abduction by Zeus or the Hebrew prophets' personification of Israel as an adulterous woman. The nineteenth century realist novel, written from within the newly emerged category of the nation-state, is especially rich in intersections of gender relations and national belonging, and it is no coincidence that adultery appears as the prevalent topic. Set in the 1830s milieu of the First Reform Bill and the Catholic Question, the love triangle in George Eliot's Middlemarch explores national boundaries through a romantic Polish rebel, who not only wins the girl, but a seat in Parliament by the end of the novel. Fontane's Effi Briest, by contrast, is set in the recently unified Germany, where Poland is too close to home to be romanticized. Effi's slighted husband, a high ranking official in Bismarck's service, kills his rival in an old-fashioned duel, while the shamed Effi returns to her parents' house, where she falls ill and dies. Lev Tolstoy's Anna Karenina reveals the anxieties of an empire stretched in too many directions. The Eastern Crisis is symbolized through the heroine's mangled body and her grieving lover's joining of the volunteer movement against Turkey, while Levin offers a solution to blurring boundaries by withdrawing into the country. August Senoa's The Goldsmith's Gold allegorizes Croatian political conflicts by placing the hero in a love triangle between a peasant girl, who represents the embodiment of both sexual and national purity, and a wealthy blond Germanic femme fatale, who breaks up the impending union of the first two.
Issue Date:2008
Description:196 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2008.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3337834
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2008

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