‘Antique Fiction’ and the forgotten legacies of Ancient Rome in Wilkie Collins’s Antonina

Eastlake, L. (2017) ‘Antique Fiction’ and the forgotten legacies of Ancient Rome in Wilkie Collins’s Antonina. Classical Receptions Journal, 9(2), pp. 193-210. (doi: 10.1093/crj/clw007)

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This article examines the treatment and uses of ancient Rome in Wilkie Collins’s first published novel, Antonina (1850). It suggests that the novel, which has been almost entirely overlooked by modern scholarship, represents a significant departure from earlier, more negative receptions of Rome in the cultural and political discourses of the early nineteenth century, as well as in the ‘antique fictions’ of the period. Rather, Antonina represents a shift towards a more enthusiastic adoption of the Roman past as a framework for glorifying the racial and cultural credentials of the British imperialist. Set during the sack of Rome by Alaric and the Goths in 410, the novel’s romantic pairing of the Roman maiden Antonina and the Gothic warrior Hermanric serves to mythologize the origins of a British readership who would be heirs to Roman culture and empire as well as Gothic martial virtue.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Eastlake, Dr Laura
Authors: Eastlake, L.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies
Journal Name:Classical Receptions Journal
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN (Online):1759-5142
Published Online:18 April 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 The Author
First Published:First published in Classical Receptions Journal 9(2):193-210
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
479665AHRC Doctoral Training Funding 2007-08 to...Adeline CallanderArts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)AH/I501827/1ARTS ACADEMIC AND STUDENT ADMIN