The English Jacobin Novel on Rights, Property and the Law is a study of the radical novel's critique of the evolving social contract in the 1790s. Focusing on selected novels by Thomas Holcroft, Charlotte Smith, Elizabeth Inchbald, Robert Bage, William Godwin, Mary Hays, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Maria Edgeworth, this book examines narrative investigations into the intricate relationships between theories of rights, the requirements of proprietorship in civil society, and the construction of the legal subject.
'Johnson's argument goes straight to the heart of novel studies: fiction privileged property as the basis of enfranchisement and so limited the democratizing process it envisioned. The genius of her book is to come at this paradox through the curious body of fiction written during the period following revolutions in North America and France for the expressed purpose of exposing the limits of the Lockean model of government. This strikingly fresh look at the Jacobin novel shows it embracing fiction as culture's most powerful political medium and challenging the premises of modern nation building. In focusing on these particular novels, she therefore deals with the very topics that preoccupy scholars who read and write about fiction in any epoch, namely, the gendered identity of citizenship, the restriction of political agency, and the difficulty of imagining a future of collective transformation.' - Nancy Armstrong, Nancy Duke Lewis Professor, Brown University, USA