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Philanthropy in British and American FictionDickens, Hawthorne, Eliot and Howells$
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Frank Christianson

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780748625086

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748625086.001.0001

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Philanthropy in British and American Fiction

Frank Christianson

Edinburgh University Press

Washington Gladden's anticipation of a European-style welfare state suggests the direction that American liberalism was heading, if not the whole story of America's ongoing vexed relationship to European statism. Philanthropy and realism reveal the circuitous route that Anglo-American culture took as a result of its ambivalent response to the consequences — good and ill — of industrial capitalism. Both Nancy Armstrong and J. B. Schneewind understand the emergence of a modern middle-class moral code as a defining feature of liberal individualism wherein the rejection of the obedience model made moral agency conceivable as the founding principle of modern liberal subjectivity. Literary realism's representation of the modern sentimental subject capable of cultivating, via philanthropy, a sympathetic impulse beyond the immediate boundaries of self and family toward society at large constitutes the basis of its aesthetic re-imagining.

Keywords:   philanthropy, literary realism, Washington Gladden, American liberalism, Nancy Armstrong, J. B. Schneewind, welfare state, industrial capitalism

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