Hope+Leslie+reading+guide - Catharine Maria Sedgwicks Hope...

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Catharine Maria Sedgwick’s Hope Leslie (1827) A reading guide to the excerpts It may surprise you to learn that Catharine Maria Sedgwick was one of the most famous and successful novelists of the first half of the nineteenth century. Critics and historians of her time judged her to be one of the founders of American literature. In class, we’ll talk a little about why most of you have never heard of her. Many people (including your professor) consider Hope Leslie to be Sedgwick’s greatest work. Since it is a very long novel with a multiform plot structure, I have excerpted those sections most pertinent to the themes of our course. Our reading will focus on Magawisca, one of the novel’s heroines and the most singularly powerful native American character in early American literature. Mary Kelley, the literary critic responsible for recovering Sedgwick for modern readers, characterizes the novel this way: Hope Leslie has two basic concerns. The first addresses the Puritans’ subjugation of the indigenous population and the second presents a tale of romance among the Puritans. Supposedly a typical story of lovers thwarted by misunderstandings and united in the final pages, the romance in actuality is interwoven with the narrative of Indian displacement to provide a structure for the investigation of both American and female character, issues of primary importance for Sedgwick. The text is dominated by two decidedly unconventional women: Hope Leslie, foster daughter of a prominent Puritan, and Magawisca, daughter of a Pequot leader. What follows is a brief description of the main characters, and a guide to
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Hope+Leslie+reading+guide - Catharine Maria Sedgwicks Hope...

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