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Author: Edgeworth, Maria

Genre: Novel

Year: 1796


Absentee - Maria Edgeworth

An important work by Edgeworth, based on principles of social realism, that raised people's consciousness about the evils of absentee landlords, specifically the English in Ireland. Originally meant to be a play was later transformed into a novel.

The story involves the efforts of young Lord Colambre to right the wrongs done by his aristocratic parents, who are oblivious to the wretchedly impoverished condition of the tenants on their Irish estates. As a novel of fashionable life (collected in Tales of Fashionable Life second series, 1812) that paradigmatically integrates the Irish national tale and regional tale, The Absentee marks a significant event in the first decades immediately following the eighteenth century: the coinage of the term “interior". Edgeworth’s fiction satirically exposes the fashionable interior space and temporalization of regional space that are the out dating and anachronizing of Ireland by imperial England.

Edgeworth confronts a world whose values, while grounded in tradition and supported by slavery and colonial domination, are being challenged and ultimately changed in surprising ways by women, peasants, servants, and other voices from the margins

Maria Edgeworth is often considered either the 'Irish Jane Austen' or the 'female Sir Walter Scott,' although her writing actually influenced both. Her novels and stories fall into three categories: sketches of Irish life, commentary on contemporary English society, and instruction in children's moral training. Published between 1796 and 1834, her work is characterized by both a Scott-like Romantic attachment to the past and an Austenian wit and rationalism. Largely considered Jane Austen's leading contemporary rival – a comic, original and often brilliant analyst of her world whose work John Ruskin declared, constituted 'the most re-readable books in existence".

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