In this article, Alisha Walters argues that Dinah Mulock Craik's Olive (1850), frequently received as an emulation of Charlotte Brontë's more famous novel Jane Eyre (1847), is a thematically significant text on its own merit, as it directly engages with ideas of race and hybridized Victorian nationalism. Published in 1850, at a time of rampant anti-Celtic prejudice in Britain and during the ascendance of Saxonism-an ideology which posited that the nation owed its essential character to a pure Teutonic racial lineage-Craik's text of mixed-race characters paints a controversial, hybridized national portrait. Her Britain is comprised of both Saxons and Celts, while the novel also cautiously posits that Britishness may include forms of non-white mixture, in light of the empire. This article claims that what links these forms of national hybridity in the novel is the discourse of sentiment. Affect intersects with Victorian theories of racial mixture, and an emotive understanding of the racialized Other is produced in Olive. Affective language urges acceptance of racial difference, as a "felt" model of hybridized nationality is inculcated in the text. At a time when exclusionary theories of monoracial origin were gaining national popularity, Craik deploys affect to create a more complex, heterogeneous ideal of Britishness in the mid nineteenth century.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Gender Studies
- Literature and Literary Theory