Castle Rackrent, a short novel by Maria Edgeworth published in 1800, is often regarded as the first historical novel, the first regional novel in English, the first Anglo-Irish novel, the first Big House novel and the first saga novel.
It is also widely regarded as the first novel to use the device of a narrator who is both unreliable and an observer of, rather than a player in, the actions he chronicles. Kirkpatrick suggests that it "both borrows from and originates a variety of literary genres and subgenres without nearly fitting into any one of them". William Butler Yeats pronounced Castle Rackrent "one of the most inspired chronicles written in English".
Shortly before its publication, an introduction, glossary and footnotes, written in the voice of an English narrator, were added to the original text to blunt the negative impact the Edgeworths feared the book might have on English enthusiasm for the Act of Union 1800.
- rinda L., January 2013
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