This essay offers a new, transnational reading of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South (1854-55), a novel that has traditionally been read in national terms. As a sailor, Frederick Hale belongs to a profession that connects the cotton-producing American South to the cotton-manufacturing British North. This alternate "North and South" resituates Gaskell's novel in transatlantic terms and offers a new, racialized prism through which to view the novel's central conflict between master and man. By historicizing Frederick's narrative within the nineteenth-century transatlantic antislavery movement, I argue that Frederick's metonymic connection to slavery expresses itself in his narrative's generic proximity to the American slave narrative. I consider the implications of Frederick's cosmopolitanism and suggest that it anticipates Gaskell's agonized feelings about the American Civil War, an internecine conflict that places at its center the problem of slavery.
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