Released on 09May11
Edited with an Introduction and Notes by TIM DOLIN
Ruth (1853) was the first mainstream novel to make a fallen woman its eponymous heroine; shocking to contemporary readers, its radical utopian vision of 'a pure woman faithfully presented' predates Hardy's Tess by nearly forty years.
Ruth Hilton is an orphan and an overworked seamstress, an innocent preyed upon by a weak, wealthy seducer. When he heartlessly abandons her she finds shelter and kindness in the home of a dissenting minister and his sister, who do not reject her when she gives birth to an illegitimate child. But Ruth's self-sacrificing love and devotion are tested to the limit when her former lover once more enters her life. Gaskell's depiction of Ruth lays bare Victorian hypocrisy and sexual double-standards, and her novel is a remarkable story of love, of the sanctuary and tyranny of the family, and of the consequences of lies and deception.
Tim Dolin's new introduction challenges the view of Ruth as one of Gaskell's weaker novels and explores its radicalism and cultural influence, and the remarkable story of love, family, and hypocrisy that it tells. This edition also includes an up-to-date bibliography and revised chronology of Gaskell.
TIM DOLIN is Professor in the School of Media, Culture, and Creative Arts at Curtin University, Western Australia. He is the author of George Eliot (2005) and Thomas Hardy (2008) in the Authors in Context series (Oxford World’s Classics), and co-editor of Thomas Hardy and Contemporary Literary Studies (2004).
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Notes for Editors
Notes to Editors:
Elizabeth Gaskell’s life is in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Give your readers the added bonus of free access to her ODNB entry online by including the following copy as part of your review:
Available free to all readers – access to Elizabeth Gaskell’s entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. We will make the entry available for 6 months. Visit http://www.oup.com/oxforddnb/info/news/oupbios/