The Corellian Romance Contra Modernity: The Treasure of Heaven and Innocent
This essay interprets two of Marie Corelli's romances from the Edwardian period within the discursive context of evolving relations among the literary modes of the romance, realism, and a nascent modernism. Together, The Treasure of Heaven (1906) and Innocent (1914) thematize one of Corelli's key preoccupations: the fate of Old-World romantic ideologies and the romance mode in contemporary Britain. The two novels fiercely critique aspects of cultural modernity perceived to be dehumanizing and defend the role of the romance form itself as a timeless purveyor of eternal human truths. Paradoxically, however, Corelli figures spirituality in ways that are at once traditionally Christian and idiosyncratically modern: romantic battles between good and evil are interfused with a metaphysical feminism, a defiant populism, and an idealistic rebellion against institutionalized masculine authority, whether it be that of the corrupt aristocracy, the calculating bourgeoisie, or the makers of cultural opinion. Moreover, these novels self-consciously present themselves as romances about the romance mode itself. In generic terms, and typical of Corelli's oeuvre, they may be said to represent the revenge of the romance on high realism, even as they anticipate some of high modernism's emergent attitudes toward cultural modernity.
Hipsky, Martin, "The Corellian Romance Contra Modernity: The Treasure of Heaven and Innocent" (2006). English Faculty Work. 50.
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