This book examines unnoticed aspects of characters in both marginal and canonical works of American and English fiction. During the long transatlantic Romantic period (approx. 1770-1860) many works of fiction appeared that engaged with androgynous idealism, both physically as well as spiritually, and that were peopled by alchemists and full of alchemical imagery. "Romantic Alchemists" investigates the extent to which the British and American novelists William Godwin, Mary Shelley, Edward Bulwer Lytton, George Lippard, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville utilized the figure of the alchemist and alchemical imagery to express their own peculiar Romantic visions of the radical reform of society; a vision that always involved a strong recognition that in order for positive reform to be achieved in society, a breakdown was necessary of the hegemonic ideology of gender polarization that structured and defined individual human experience in the political, economic, as well as domestic realm.
Publisher: The Edwin Mellen Press Ltd