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Counterfactual Romanticism$
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Damian Walford Davies

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781784991418

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7765/9781526107077

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Sophia Lee’s The Recess and the epistemology of the counterfactual

Sophia Lee’s The Recess and the epistemology of the counterfactual

(p.107) 4 Sophia Lee’s The Recess and the epistemology of the counterfactual
Counterfactual Romanticism

Tilottama Rajan

Manchester University Press

Focusing on Sophie Lee’s novel The Recess (1783–85), this chapter discusses the uncanny ‘folds’ of the actual and the virtual in Lee’s early alternate history novel of sixteenth-century Scotland and England. Attending to the novel’s bewildering doublings and twinnings, its interplay of historical and fictional personages, the chapter develops a theory of counterfactualism that is focused on form and narrative. The strategies of Lee’s novel render history’s ‘facts’ and personae exchangeable and ‘depthless’, resulting not in a ‘genealogy’ but rather a discursive ‘narratology’ in which entities (and thus ‘history’) are defined only by relational difference.

Keywords:   Sophia Lee, epistemology of the counterfactual, alternate history, simulation, Deleuze

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