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`Not till then did he understand his own feelings, and recognize her as the being he had dreamt of ... Sternly as he was wont to treat his impulses, he did not look on his affection as an earthborn fancy, liable to draw him from higher things, and therefore to be combated; he deemed her rather a guide and guard whose love might arm him, soothe him and encourage him ...' First published in 1853, The Heir of Redclyffe was the foundation of Charlotte Yonge's fame and the most successful novel of the century, surpassing even the work of Dickens and Thackeray in popularity. Its themes characterize the early-Victorian mood of romantic virtue, self-sacrifice and piety, epitomizing the period's nostalgia for an idealized chivalric past. Young baronet Sir Guy Morville fights to overcome his faults and the ancestral curse on his house, his spiritual journey combined with courtship of his guardian's daughter Amabel, and feuding with his worldly, priggish cousin Philip. The reader's attention is rapt to the end as Guy struggles to resist temptations to give way to his violent temper, provocation following provocation, until the final, dramatic vindication of his character. Adopted by William Morris and Burne-Jones `as a pattern for actual life', Guy was a popular role model of chivalric heroism, while Amabel is the ideal Victorian wife, mother and widow, redeemer and inspirer, support and guide. The Heir of Redclyffe is a virtual paradigm of the trends of thought which marked the middle decades of the nineteenth century, and is deeply marked by the influence of the Oxford Movement. Barbara Dennis's illuminating introduction examines the novel's relationship to religious controversy and representation of women in the context of its age.
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First published in 1853, The Heir of Redclyffe was among the most successful novels of the century, equalling even the work of Dickens and Thackeray in popularity. The story of a clash of personality between well-born cousins, Guy Morville and Philip Edmonstone, the plot focuses on Guy's spiritual struggle to overcome the darker side of his nature. Philip's sinister insinuations about Guy's character almost thwart Guy's marriage to the gentle Amy, yet despite their bitter feuding the novel reaches an unexpected and dramatic conclusion that vindicates romantic virtue, self-sacrifice, and piety, epitomizing the period's nostalgia for an idealized chivalric past. Adopted by William Morris and Burne-Jones as 'a pattern for actual life', Guy was a popular role model of noble virtue, while Amy is the ideal Victorian wife - redeemer and inspirer, support and guide. The Heir of Redclyffe is a virtual paradigm of the trends of thought which characterized the middle decades of the nineteenth century. It is deeply marked by the influence of the Oxford Movement, an aspect explored by Barbara Dennis in her Introduction to this unique critical edition.About the Author:
Barbara Dennis is Head of the Department of Victorian Studies at the Department of English, St David's University College, Lampeter, University of Wales. Charlotte Mary Yonge (1823-1901) was born at Otterbourne, near Winchester, where she lived all her life. At the age of 15 she fell under the influence of the Oxford Movement and John Keble was to be her lifelong mentor. Her family consented to allow her to publish only if the earnings were donated to charity, and her father read, criticized and changed at will everything she wrote; after his death, Keble assumed this role. Her work was admired by Tennyson, Kingsley, Rossetti, and William Morris and her books were said to be the favourite reading of young officers in the Crimean War.
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