New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2015. Ryan Twomey (ed.). First Edition. Paperback. Fine/ As New. Selected Bibliography. 13 x 21 cm. 210 pp. Item #13239
The only edition of this 1800 novel—widely regarded as the first historical novel—to include supporting materials on both the importance of Maria Edgeworth as a writer and the influence of contemporary history on this novel.
Castle Rackrent’s publication in 1800 signaled many firsts: the first historical novel, the first regional novel in English, the first “big house” novel, the first Anglo-Irish novel, and the first novel with a narrator who is neither reliable nor part of the action. This Norton Critical Edition is based on the Baldwin & Cradock edition that appeared as part of an eighteen-volume collected edition titled Tales and Novels of Maria Edgeworth (1832–33). It is accompanied by detailed explanatory annotations.
Ryan Twomey focuses the volume’s “Backgrounds and Contexts” on Edgeworth’s importance as a writer, the influence of contemporary historical events on her writing (most importantly, the Act of Union of 1800, which united Ireland and Great Britain), and Castle Rackrent’s impact on the development of the novel. These include a selection of Edgeworth’s letters; five major contemporary reviews; biographical pieces; Sir Walter Scott on Edgeworth and her response to him; and excerpts from Edgeworth’s juvenilia, The Double Disguise.
“Criticism” is thematically organized to give readers a clear sense of Castle Rackrent’s major themes: Irish writing and specifically the Irish novel, narrative voices, patriarchy and paternalism, and Edgeworth’s Hiberno-English writing. Contributors include Seamus Deane, Marilyn Butler, Katherine O’Donnell, Julia Nash, Joyce Flynn, and Brian Hollingworth, among others.
A chronology of Edgeworth’s life and work and a selected bibliography are also included.