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"The blessings of freedom": Britain, America, and "the East" in the Fiction of Robert Bage

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JournalEighteenth-Century Fiction
DatePublished - Sep 2009
Issue number1
Volume22
Number of pages21
Pages (from-to)49-69
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Even as Britain's failure to retain its authority in the Western hemisphere provides the point of departure for Robert Bage's Mount Henneth (1782) and The Fair Syrian (1787), these novels take characters on Eastern adventures, making them encounter the effects of despotic power in the condition of Eastern women. By invoking such a generalized idea of Oriental despotism and by reframing "British" liberty in relatively uncontroversial terms, these novels address the ideological repercussions of Britain's conflict with its colonists. Hermsprong (1796) briefly revisits the seraglio, paralleling Turkey and Britain while also identifying its hero's freedom of expression as a "native" English as much as an American instinct.

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