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“Historical Romance” or a “Tale of Virtue and of Pity”? Thaddeus of Warsaw as a “New Species of Writing”
Název práce v češtině: „Historická romance” nebo „příběh ctnosti a soucitu”? Thaddeus of Warsaw jako „nový druh psaní“
Název v anglickém jazyce: “Historical Romance” or a “Tale of Virtue and of Pity”? Thaddeus of Warsaw as a “New Species of Writing”
Klíčová slova: Jane Porter, Sir Walter Scott, sentimentální román, britská literatura 18. a 19. století, skotská literatura, britské spisovatelky
Klíčová slova anglicky: Jane Porter, Sir Walter Scott, novel of sensibility, 18th and 19th century British literature, Scottish literature, British women writers
Akademický rok vypsání: 2015/2016
Typ práce: diplomová práce
Jazyk práce: angličtina
Ústav: Ústav anglofonních literatur a kultur (21-UALK)
Vedoucí / školitel: PhDr. Soňa Nováková, CSc.
Řešitel: skrytý - zadáno a potvrzeno stud. odd.
Datum přihlášení: 09.02.2016
Datum zadání: 10.02.2016
Schválení administrátorem: zatím neschvalováno
Datum potvrzení stud. oddělením: 15.02.2016
Datum a čas obhajoby: 23.05.2017 09:00
Datum odevzdání elektronické podoby:24.04.2017
Datum proběhlé obhajoby: 23.05.2017
Odevzdaná/finalizovaná: odevzdaná studentem a finalizovaná
Oponenti: PhDr. Zdeněk Beran, Ph.D.
Zásady pro vypracování
In the 1831 preface to the second edition of her 1803 work Thaddeus of Warsaw, Jane Porter makes a daring and to many also a surprising claim to be the first who has written in the genre that we now call the historical novel. She does acknowledge “the chief of the novel-writers”[1], Sir Walter Scott (it would be almost impossible not to, with his by that time widespread European fame), but claims firmly, that he did her “the honor to adopt the style or class of novel of which “Thaddeus of Warsaw”[2] was the first,- a class which, uniting the personages and facts of real history or biography with a combining and illustrative machinery of the imagination, formed a new species of writing.” Despite these bold assertions, it is clear that they are the consequence of a re-evaluation of her own work that the author has accomplished in the span of almost thirty years. In 1831 Porter focused on different aspects of the novel than when she wrote the preface to the first edition in 1803. In this early preface she states that her chief motivation for publishing the novel was:
(T)hat the mistakes which many of my young contemporaries of both sexes continually make in their estimates of human character, and of the purposes of human life, require a line of difference between certain splendid vices and some of the brilliant order of virtues to be distinctly drawn before them.[3]
In Porter’s assertion: “This opinion decided me”[4]we can therefore see that the themes situating her work in the context of didactic and moralist tale were what she valued most, before she knew of the fame and recognition Scott’s works were about to receive.
In general, it is difficult to decide precisely to which genre Thaddeus of Warsaw belongs because while its first part describes the partition of Poland and the Kosciuszko Uprising with many exciting battle scenes and political procedures, the second one takes place in England where the fugitive Thaddeus Sobiesky flees after witnessing the dissolution of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Perhaps because of the disparate nature of the two parts of the novel, Porter herself cannot settle on a single genre label and calls it such widely divergent names as: “historical romance”[5], “biographical legend”[6] or a “tale of virtue and of pity.”[7] This thesis will in the first part attempt to place the novel into a fitting literary context and genre framework. This analysis will be based on historical and cultural development that has caused the change in Porter’s self-evaluation, evident in the later preface called “The author, to her friendly readers” and the earlier one called “Preface to the first edition”. The assumption is that sentiment, as Janet Todd claims, originally “the belief in and hope of the natural goodness of humanity” (characteristic of the period of Enlightenment which justifies sentiment as a guide for “the rights and wrongs of human conduct”[8]) has gradually been degraded to “an indulgence in and display of emotion for its own sake”[9] and towards the end of the 18th century completely rejected because of the horrors of the French revolution. Moralist authors such as Porter therefore have recourse to Christian religion (specifically the Protestant variety) as a more reliable guide for proper and benevolent behaviour.
Porter’s subsequent reluctance to have her novel associated with the discredited genre of the novel of sensibility and her subscription to the genre of historical novel leads to the question whether there is sufficient ground for her to claim that her work and not Scott’s was a work of a new kind, that she is in fact the first to have written a historical novel? A comparison with Scott’s Waverley Novels is to be expected, however I would also like to find out whether it is possible to trace the development of the genre through the comparison of Clara Reeve’s Old English Baron, Thaddeus of Warsaw and Ivanhoe. Some attention must be also paid to the construction and use of history in these works. The background to this issue will be provided by the article of Fiona Price where she claims that the theory of Georg Lukács and idea of “history as progress” (as exhibited in Scott’s novels) has been accepted by the canon-forming institutions “as the defining characteristic of the historical novel”[10] and in this way Porter’s contribution to the development of the genre was completely side-lined.
The second part of the thesis will focus on Thaddeus of Warsaw and continue the dialogue between historical and sentimental themes, first stated in general, literary-historical terms, now supported by the analysis of the novel and the typology of its heroes and plot. The protagonist Thaddeus is even amidst the tumult of battlefield established as a man of feeling. But especially in the London episodes, the theme of sentimentalism has its full sway, as Thaddeus is introduced into London high society and confronted with on the one hand morally wrong, self-indulgent and irresponsible sentimentalism of Euphemia Dundas and on the other hand also with Mary Beaufort’s socially responsible counterpart leading to sympathy with the less fortunate and Christian charity. These two characters embody the difference between the real sentiment which moves the “readers not only to tears but also to right action”[11] and an assumed one, about which Lynn M. Festa says: “The solipsistic consumption of emotion [...] may not carry over into the social world of ethical enjoinders to end real exploitation; readers may congratulate themselves on their refined sensibility while stepping over a body in the gutter.”[12] A literary parallel to Mary Beaufort’s moral reflections is to be found in the novels of sentiment from the 1740s, specifically in The Adventures of David Simple by Sarah Fielding. Much closer in time to the publication of Thaddeus of Warsaw is the already mentioned Old English Baron where I will focus on the analysis of characters’ sentimental reactions and determine whether the scheme suggested by Todd (that “sentimentality [...] in 1770s [...] suggested debased and affected feeling”[13]) is valid even when transported into a superficially historical setting.
The movement away from sentiment as the guiding principle of human conduct can be also observed in and connected to the theme of marriage and search for the right partner for life. Often connected with advice to the young lady when first entering society, this is a well-established trend with woman writers which culminates in its best known representative, Jane Austen. However, Self-Control by Mary Brunton is closer in seriousness of its tone and the religious base of some of its advice to Jane Porter’s novel. There is such an accord between the ideas promoted in both books, that Brunton’s heroine Laura Montreville actually considers Thaddeus Sobiesky her most favourite literary hero. In contrast to Austen’s heroines, neither the characters in Self-Control, nor Thaddeus of Warsaw consider marriage the most desirable state a human being can attain on Earth. Mary and Thaddeus, to name but one example, are so noble and virtuous that the consummation of their love in marriage seems to be too lowly a goal which they therefore only approach with reluctance and so much propriety, consideration and agonizing doubt that the reader despairs of ever seeing it fulfilled.
In the Edinburgh Companion of Scottish Romanticism, Jane Porter is discussed mostly in a chapter concerned with “The Scottish National Tale” which is a useful reminder that Thaddeus of Warsaw also comments on the issue of national character and nationalism. Placing Porter’s novel into the development of the genre of national tale will be the focus of the third part of the thesis. Unlike Scottish Chiefs, regarded by Andrew Monnickendam as a national tale focused on Scotland, Thaddeus of Warsaw offers the reader a chance to reflect more generally on the English or British national character, seen through the eyes of a foreigner. This allows the author to moralize on the subject of distinction between real and assumed nobility (similar to that concerned with sentiment) where the foreign subject is nobler than the indigenous English higher classes. Thaddeus’ nobility makes him the object of admiration and at the same time of suspicion that he cannot be the lowly and humble Mr. Constantine he claims to be, because his demeanour gives him away as a person of noble blood. The perspective of the foreigner also allows Porter to comment on and satirize the English social vices, represented by both the urban characters (the Misses Dundas and their friend, the foppish Lascelles) but also those in the country (the boorish son of Earl Stanhope)
The nationalist theme transforms curiously as the novel progresses. Thaddeus has at first a very high opinion of the English, though it is completely unfounded by any empirical evidence and also rather surprising because of the reproachable behaviour of his English father. Later he learns more about the English national character and society during the ill-fated months of his poverty in London, but the picture presented to us by the author is strangely unbalanced. There are all the irreverent, impolite, profligate and hardened characters – the policemen, jailors, waiters, pawnbrokers, fops etc. but also the kind and generous people willing to help the less fortunate. In the end, however, Thaddeus joins the ranks of the English aristocracy (although this class has not always been portrayed to its best advantage) through his marriage to Mary Beaufort but also through being acknowledged the son to Sir Robert Somerset. His adaptation is so successful, that the author claims that it does not make any difference whether he is managing his mother’s estates in Poland or his father’s estates in England, he is a benevolent and frugal landlord. In this respect, Thaddeus becomes a figure comparable to Horatio M- of The Wild Irish Girl by Lady Morgan who also comes to oversee landed property in Ireland.

[1]Jane Porter, Thaddeus of Warsaw, Gutenberg, Web, 26 Feb. 2015, 11,http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/6566/pg6566.html.
[2]Porter, xi.
[3]Porter, xxii.
[4]Porter, xxii.
[5]Porter, vi.
[6]Porter, vii.
[7]Porter, ix.
[8]Janet Todd, Sensibility, An Introduction (London: Methuen & Co., 1986) 7.
[9]Todd, 8.
[10]Fiona Price, "Resisting 'The Spirit Of Innovation': The Other Historical Novel And Jane Porter," Modern Language Review 101.3 (2006), 639, Academic Search Complete, Web, 26 Feb. 2015.
[11]Lynn M. Festa, “The Distinction of Sentimental Feeling,” Sentimental Figures of Empire in Eighteenth-Century Britain and France, (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006) 21, ProQuest ebrary, Web, 19 Feb. 2015.
[12]Festa, 21 – 22.
[13]Todd, 8.
Seznam odborné literatury
Brunton, Mary. Self-Control. Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healy, 1999. Literature Online. Web. 26. Jan 2016.
De Groot, Jerome. The Historical Novel. London: Routledge, 2010.
Festa, Lynn M. Sentimental Figures of Empire in Eighteenth-Century Britain and France. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 26 Jan 2016.
Fielding Sarah. The Adventures of David Simple. Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healy, 1996. Literature Online. Web. 26. Jan 2016.
Leerssen, Joep. National Thought in Europe. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2006.
Lukács, Georg. The Historical Novel. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books Ltd., 1960.
McLean, Thomas. “Nobody’s Argument: Jane Porter and the Historical Novel.” Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 7:2. 88-103. Project Muse. Web. 26. Feb. 2015.
Owenson, Sydney. The Wild Irish Girl. Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healy, 1999. Literature Online. Web. 26. Jan 2016
Pittock, Murray. Edinburgh Companion to Scottish Romanticism. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2011. Web. 26. Jan 2016.
Porter, Jane. Thaddeus of Warsaw. Gutenberg. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.
Price, Fiona. "Resisting 'The Spirit of Innovation': The Other Historical Novel And Jane Porter."Modern Language Review 101.3 (2006): 638-651. Academic Search Complete. Web. 26 Jan. 2016.
Reeve, Clara. The Old English Baron. Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healey, 1996. Literature Online. Web. 26. Jan 2016.
Scott, Walter. Ivanhoe. Ware: Wordsworth Press, 1995.
Todd, Janet. Sensibility. London: Methuen & Co, 1986.
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