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Inhabiting the Fact/Fiction Borderland: The Gunninghiad – A Feud about Life and Letters in London of the 1790s
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences. Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden. (Berättande Liv Mening)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7232-2832
2012 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

A public scandal involving a prominent London family in the 1790s generated a pamphlet war which takes place in the borderland between fact and fiction. The feud about the reputation of the young Elizabeth Gunning was serious enough, but, like scandals of any age, it was exploited for the public’s amusement. The material - comprising pamphlets, gossip columns, apologies and parodies – form a microcosm of the reading culture at the time. In this paper I will focus on the texts’ appeals to readers. The documents range from Susannah Gunning’s highly wrought emotional defense of her daughter’s conduct, to the father’s, the adversary’s, ironic apology, intending to clear his own reputation. The whole affair follows closely the plot of a typical sentimental novel, like those written by Susannah Minifie Gunning (a prominent novelist), including courtship schemes, with forged and lost letters as central devices.

This paper contributes to the discussion of the historicizing of narrative theory, arguing that the picture is complex and changing. By the end of the eighteenth century there was a keen awareness among the reading public of the fact-fiction demarcation lines. Evidence of this is to be found in circulating library novels where parodic devices alerted readers to the dangers of confusing fact with fiction. The case-studied pamphlets of this study, by contrast, ask the readers to invest their “Historical faith” in narratives that do not even pretend to tell the whole truth about the affair at hand. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012.
Keywords [en]
Pamphlet, gossip column, Susannah Gunning, fact and fiction, circulating-library novel, reader response
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
Literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-50034OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-50034DiVA, id: diva2:924694
Conference
Narrative Matters, Life and Narrative, American University of Paris, Paris, France, May 29 - June 1, 2012
Available from: 2016-04-28 Created: 2016-04-28 Last updated: 2018-05-14Bibliographically approved

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Uddén, Anna

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf