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Antifeminism and the Victorian Novel: Rereading Nineteenth-Century Women Writers By T ...

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Antifeminism and the Victorian Novel:

Introduction

Narratives of Victorian Antifeminism

Tamara S. Wagner

“Women themselves are chiefly to blame for the strange and humiliating notion that they are a sect, a party, an oppressed nationality as it were, and not an integral part of the race” (174), wrote Margaret Oliphant in a review of “New Books” in Blackwood’s Magazine in August 1870. Pinpointing some of the most damaging—“humiliating”—manifestations of any such discrimination as “pseudo-philosophies” (174), Oliphant proceeded to assert that it was surely counterproductive to any suggestion of equality—and women’s equal treatment as writers—to engender additional categories of discrimination against the works of female authors by conceptualising them as intrinsically different, as the writing of a species set apart from humanity. Surely, Oliphant maintained, humanity ought to be considered as more encompassing: “By common consent, Humanity has been considered a greater thing than Sex since ever the race has been a race” (174).