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The Dispossessed State: Narratives of Ownership in Nineteenth-Century Britain and Ireland

Sara L. Maurer
This book connects the Victorian novel’s preoccupation with the landed estate to the nineteenth-century debates about property that characterized the English occupation of Ireland. Victorian writers on both sides of the Irish Sea were deeply attracted to the idea that the Irish had rights to their land that the state was powerless to give or take away. Analyzing this strain of thought through a century of British and Irish fiction, journalism, and political theory, Maurer suggests that the ownership of Irish land played a major role in how Victorians were able to imagine a political entity called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Bringing together canonical British novelists—Maria Edgeworth, Anthony Trollope, George Moore, and George Meredith—with the writings of major British political theorists—John Stuart Mill, Henry Sumner Maine, and William Gladstone—Maurer recovers the broad influence of Irish culture on the rest of the British Isles.
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