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Witness to ReconstructionConstance Fenimore Woolson and the Postbellum South, 1873-1894$
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Kathleen Diffley

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781617030253

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617030253.001.0001

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date: 11 December 2017

Woolson’s Two Women: 1862.

Woolson’s Two Women: 1862.

A Civil War Romance of Irreconcilable Difference

Chapter:
(p.90) Woolson’s Two Women: 1862.
Source:
Witness to Reconstruction
Author(s):

Caroline Gebhard

Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781617030253.003.0006

This chapter examines why Woolson abandoned poetry at the height of her popularity as a poet and how her most ambitious poem, Two Women: 1862. (1877), responds to the “romance of union” popular in the aftermath of the Civil War. It suggests that Two Women represents Woolson’s attempt to craft a bold tragic heroine modeled not a little upon Shakespeare’s Cleopatra, who embodied the wartime experience of her own generation. Ultimately, Woolson’s Civil War romance unfolds as a drama of difference that exposes a gulf between North and South, and between old-fashioned ideals of femininity and new possibilities for women’s lives.

Keywords:   Constance Fenimore Woolson, poetry, Civil War romance, North, south, femininity, romance of union

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