Paul E H Davis's challenging book offers an entirely new critique of how novelists in nineteenth-century Ireland had to act both as writers and historians in their attempts to find a solution to what became the Irish Land Question. It challenges the widely-held, nationalist view that Irish novelists of this period had little or nothing to offer and introduces a new, identifiable category for them: the agrarian novelists. The book is divided into three parts, each with its own short introduction and conclusion. Part One considers novelists writing between the Union and the Famine: Maria Edgeworth, Gerald Griffin, John and Michael Banim and William Carleton. Part Two looks at how the agrarian novel 'emigrates' with reference to the novels of Charles Kickham and to the Irish novels of Anthony Trollope. Part Three considers how some agrarian novelists - specifically Thomas Moore and Bram Stoker - felt the solution lay not in the real world but in the world of fantasy; in short, the problem is transposed from Ireland to Transylvania. The book's conclusion offers an explication of why the agrarian novelists deserve to be valued for their unique perception of Ireland in the nineteenth century.
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