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Scandal at Bizarre: Rumor and Reputation in Jefferson's America
In the early 1790s Richard Randolph was accused of fathering a child by his sister-in-law, Nancy, and murdering the baby shortly after its birth. Rumors about the incident, which occurred during a visit to the plantation of close family friends, spread like wildfire. Randolph found himself on trial for the crime largely because of the public outrage fueled by these rumors. ...more
Paperback, 246 pages
Published September 20th 2006 by University of Virginia Press
(first published December 10th 2004)
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Dec 30, 2018 Karen rated it liked it
I asked my Southern mother in law for Virginia Gothic, and she delivered. I’d been feeling like the Gulf South gets all the Goth, while the so-called South Atlantic (has to ask my wife what to call Virginia in this context) is atmospheric as hell and where is its literature? Every time we visit we drive down rolling country roads past old tobacco drying sheds and crumbling plantation houses, under swathes of trailing kudzu, past decommissioned madhouses and orphanages...there’s some story there, ...more
I enjoy historical fiction, and learning lurid details about our predecessors along with understanding the events in their lives makes it more enjoyable, I say. This story was particularly opprobrious. It certainly wasn't anything my history professors taught! One reason this book didn't earn more stars from me was the author's style. It was most suitable for one's research thesis, but such an interesting and well-researched tale could have been revealed in a much more lively and engaging (and l ...more
an interesting look at the lifestyle of our forebears.... they traveled and lived together a lot, intermarried a lot... I agree with another reader's comment that the author's "voice" left something to be desired. Although could she have had limited resources to call upon from which to make these characters "live"? on the other hand, I live in Albemarle County, VA, 4 miles from Monticello so it is always fascinating to learn about the people who lived here so long ago and traveled the same roads ...more
A very insightful and informative look at the lives of the main actors in the late 18th century Virginia scandal (which did not take place at Bizarre, but involved its residents). Kierner examines the power of gossip in the early republic, print culture, and conceptions of gender. Also very readable.
Rumors that ciculated in the early republic about Richard Randolph and his sister-in-law about their possible sexual relationship and a subsequent infanticide reveal values held by Virginia elites, their slaves, and northerners, all of whom participated in the gossip.
There are many ways to take action against racism. Reading in order to learn more about oppression and how to oppose it is just one of those ways...
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