Victorian Literature and Culture

Research Article

THE SYMPATHETIC INDIVIDUALIST: OUIDA'S LATE WORK AND POLITICS

Andrew Kinga1

a1 Canterbury Christ Church University

For many years, the novels of Ouida (Maria Louise Ramé, 1839–1908), were rejected as offering nothing but commercially valuable “voluptuous daydreams” (Leavis 164) that catered to “the degenerate taste of the new reading public of the commercial middle class” (Elwin 282). Since the late 1980s, however, they have been read with renewed interest. Ouida has come to be recognised as a “forgotten mother” of the 1890s aesthetic movement (Schaffer, Female Aesthetes and “Origins”); as a significant player on the anti–feminist side in the New Woman debates of the 1890s (Gilbert); and, with seeming paradox, as a writer keen to explore sexual transgression (Jordan “Writings” and “Enigma”; Schroeder “Feminine”). While there has been a recent monograph on Ouida's fiction (Schroeder and Holt), her journalism remains largely ignored. In 1882, Ouida began to write literary criticism together with analyses and commentaries on the politics of the state and the organisation of society for several journals, including the Gentleman's Magazine, the Fortnightly Review, the Westminster Review, the North American Review and the Italian Nuova Antologia. This article examines Ouida's late journalism, with some adversion to her late fiction, in an attempt to establish her core set of political values at this time.

(Online publication May 18 2011)

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