Campbell, Juliet (H.) Lewis

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CAMPBELL, Juliet (H.) Lewis

Born 1823; died date unknown

Wrote under: Judith Canute

Juliet Lewis Campbell's only novel (she also wrote nonfiction) was published in 1857 under the title Eros and Antieros; or, The Bachelor's Ward, and in 1858 as The Old Love and the New. It opens with a tribute to the hero of the narrative, Arthur Walsingham, and to the great Susquehanna River. Walsingham, a dreamy, romantic poet and scholar, has been in love for years with the saintly Viola, even though she has married his closest friend. At her deathbed, soon after the death of her husband, Walsingham agrees to raise her daughter, also called Viola. Eventually the daughter grows to be as lovely and virtuous as her departed mother; Walsingham and she fall in love and marry.

What is notable about the novel is not the sentimental plot line, but the closeups of patriotic American life around Lake Erie. Campbell's ideal world is rural, pastoral, and communal. As a result, she defines heroism through kindness and charity, not through courageous deeds. Also of interest is the detailed chronicle of Viola's education in French, dance, and needlework at Madame de Fleury's boarding school. In all, Campbell provides a coherent view of the daily life of a rich American girl of her day. Campbell attributes much of Viola's charm to her elitist education but balances the elegant frivolity of that education with simple American values. Viola is as welcome in the homes of the poor and infirm as she is at a ball with her fashionable set. Some of the most vivid scenes in the novel have to do with the sick and dying.

Campbell's strong point is the depth of her observations and descriptions. Her works are directed at young girls, and her intentions are largely didactic: she clearly wishes to encourage girls to be useful, loving people as well as charming creatures of fashion. In Walsingham, Campbell portrays a rarely seen American hero, one who is esteemed for his gentleness and quiet strength.


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Campbell, Juliet (H.) Lewis

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