Countering the Counter-Factual: Joanne Baillie’s Metrical Legends of Exalted Characters (1821) and the Paratexts of History

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Title: Countering the Counter-Factual: Joanne Baillie’s Metrical Legends of Exalted Characters (1821) and the Paratexts of History
Authors: Fermanis, Porscha
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Date: 3-Apr-2012
Online since: 2020-07-10T12:46:02Z
Abstract: This essay considers Joanna Baillie's intense and ongoing concern about the flexibility of distinctions between history and fiction, focusing in particular on her rejection of counterfactual narratives in Metrical Legends of Exalted Characters (1821). It is argued that the dense scholarly apparatus of prefaces, endnotes and appendices attached to the volume represents an attempt to banish romance and contingency from the literary text, while ultimately offering an insight into the complex nature of historiographical practice by undermining the very factual stability and unity of vision that the legends seek to project. The generic, epistemological and methodological ambiguities within Metrical Legends also point to a broader tension in Romantic women's writing between promoting female values and emulating masculine discourses, which itself mirrors the Romantics wider preoccupation with the increasing division between literary and non-literary discourses at the end of the eighteenth century.
Type of material: Journal Article
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Journal: Women's Writing
Volume: 19
Issue: 3
Start page: 333
End page: 350
Copyright (published version): 2012 Taylor & Francis
Keywords: Joanna BaillieMetrical LegendsHistoryParatextsCounter-factualsGender
DOI: 10.1080/09699082.2012.666417
Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:English, Drama & Film Research Collection

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