A University of California
Multi-Campus Research Group

Director: William Warner, UC Santa Barbara

Recent Studies in the Restoration and Eighteenth Century
William B. Warner UC Santa Barbara
This year's work in eighteenth century studies can be loosely arranged along an axis between "ancients" and "moderns," between those who would return to the intrinsic nature of earlier texts and contexts, and those who would use modern theories to bring the texts and contexts of the past to bear upon current concerns. Overlapping with this divide between ancients and moderns, but not co-extensive with it, there has emerged another division in eighteenth century scholarship between those who would claim a special priority for literature, and the received traditions for understanding what literature is, and those who wish to pluralize and hybridize our ways of understanding literature by throwing literature and literary studies into a fertilizing exchange with other disciplines: history, visual studies, urban geography, colonial studies, architecture, to name a few. It is these tensions, between the ancients and the moderns, and between an intrinsic study of literature and one that is enthusiastically hybrid, that I will use to survey the rather diverse group of texts it is my assigned task to review.
Ancients and Moderns
Robert D. Hume makes a thoughtful and responsible case for scholarship that aspires to be faithful to the past, as those who lived in the past conceived it. In Reconstructing Contexts: the Aims and Principles of Archaeo Historicism, Professor Hume offers a lively and readable defense of the usefulness of traditional historicism against literary history, new literary history, and various forms of "strong" reading. Hume's suspicion of various forms of reading-deconstruction, reader-response, "a priori" (or what others would call "ideological") reading-is quite familiar from the "theory wars" of the 1970s and 1980s. However, what is distinct here are the common sense arguments for the efficacy of "reconstructing contexts" by practicing an "archeo-historicism." This project is motivated by the desire of traditional historicism: to get as close as we can, in spite of many gaps in the archive and historical record, to the thoughts, meanings and reality of an earlier epoch. This, Hume insists, will allow us to have a more accurate understanding of the texts we read. Hume's approach to this project is flexible and sensible; the examples of arbitrary historical accidents, like Charles II's creation of a duopoly in the theater in 1660, and its unforeseen consequences (the wide publishing of plays), are vivid and convincing. He values this sort of intrinsic, non-ax bearing historicism for its reticence about making broad generalizations, its absence of an abstract theory of how literary history progresses or genres "rise." Hume describes the salient elements of his method this way: archeo-historicism "works on a bottom-up basis" by "struggling with primary evidence" so as to "reconstruct the outlook of your subject"; it is "additive" for the way it builds upon the work of earlier scholars and makes itself available to be built upon by those who come later; finally, it offers the widest possible choice of explanatory "theory" with which to report your findings (p.187-188). The last sentence indicates that Hume is not a naïve empiricist. Hume knows that the texts we gravitate to, and the contexts we construct around those texts, will be influenced by our biases and obsessions. However, Hume's empiricism is evident in the desire that informs this project: by championing the modest project of "reconstructing contexts," Hume finally gives the context a different, more grounded and firm status than a text. He also defines a certain ideal for his historicism: to minimize the distorting effects of our "theory" and method, our passions and interests, in other words, many of the things that embed us in our own history.
If Robert Hume argues gently, from his experience with a life-time of scholarship, in Ideology and Form in Eighteenth Century Literature, David H. Richter strikes a more strident and polemical tone so as to stage a debate about the uses and abuses of "ideology" in eighteenth century studies of literature, especially as it has come to depreciate the central literary concept of an earlier day, "form." Richter's test-case is Henry Fielding who he finds both unappreciated and poorly read by the vogue for "ideological" (i.e. politically motivated) readings he exemplifies in discussions of Patricia Meyer Spacks and John Richetti. There is something very familiar about the "debate" as it unfolds across 15 essays, responses, rebuttals in this collection: it includes a loaded and tendentious use of terms; a proliferation of very different "approaches;" accusations of anachronism or nostalgia; the sturdy test-text (here Fielding) making itself available to all comers; and finally, the prize of "literature" either "in itself" or as it arises out of society, culture, politics, etc. In other words, this is a debate at cross-purposes, and one literary studies seems to been having for a very long time. However, what vindicates this collection, and ends making it a rather fascinating index of where eighteenth century studies finds itself, is the distinguished array of contributors and the thoughtfulness of their essays. The contributors include the editor, David H. Richter, Patricai Myer Spaces, John Richetti, Ralph W. Rader, Gerald J. Butler, Carol Houlihan Flynn, Ina Ferris, J. Paul Hunter, Trevor Ross, George E. Haggerty, Michael Boardman, Laura Brown and Lennard Davis. John Richetti's fine essay most fruitfully explores the subtext of this volume's brandishing of the term "ideology" as a " term of abuse pure and simple:" it's always the ideology of one's opponents that stands in the way of reading literature as it should be read. In his survey of theorists of ideology like Terry Eagleton, and the Marxist tradition for which Eagleton speaks, of 20th century criticism of the rise of the novel, of the 18th century writer Henry Fielding, John Richetti develops the argument that ideology is, on the one hand, an indispensable concept embedded in our critical procedures and everywhere at work in the moral and aesthetic judgments found in the 18th century texts of Fielding and his interlocutors, yet, on the other hand, the term "ideology" has become such loaded a term of disapprobation, it carries such a vague and simplistic sense, that it no longer can function as the focus or prize of rigorous critical argument. Perhaps that is why so many of the essays in the collection, written over a period of nearly a decade, and often dutifully including the term "ideology" in their title, nonetheless get their energy from exploring different eighteenth century forms: the heroic couplet of Alexander Pope (J. Paul Hunter), John Rocque's map of London (Carol Flynn), the elegy of Thomas Gray (George E. Haggerty), and so on.
James Engell's The Committed Word: Literature and Public Values, does not so much engage the canon debate of the 1980s as circumvent by historicizing the complaint that canonical writing is irrelevant to modern problems. In a series of elegant essays, Professor Engell frames the historical exigencies of a series of interventions by eighteenth century writers, interventions that commit words to political and social action, not so much by what they say, but through the rhetoric with which they say it. By Professor Engell's account, only by reading this rhetoric can we understand what has been centrally motivating about the study of literature in the English-speaking world from 1714 to the outbreak of World War I: "a modern practice of language and rhetoric devoted to the deliberation of public values (p. 163)." The essays gathered in this volume show how Alexander Pope, Edmund Burke, Jonathan Swift, David Hume, Robert Loweth, and Abraham Lincoln helped to "set political policies, forge compromises, criticize authority, exert pulpit oratory, and shape cultural life (p. 163)." These writers, as read by Engell, show us how to counter-act what has happened since World War I: a waning and narrowing of literature study to a focus on "fictive works and literary theory." This general program receives its efficacy from Engell's vivid, particular readings. For example, in Engell's adroit reading of Alexander Pope's Epistle 'To Bathurst', "The Politics of Greed---Wealth and Words, or Balancing the Budget on the Backs of the Poor?", there is a compelling attention to language, the specific historical occasion of Pope's poem, and a witty set of cross cuts to our contemporary obsession with wealth. Perhaps nothing can protect this book from the epithet from which Engell attempts to rescue Burke: "conservative." But it is smartly so.
Lost Traditions Restored
Shawn Irlam's book, Elations: the Poetics of Enthusiasm in Eighteenth-Century Britain, suggests the fruitfulness of a rigorous and patient attempt to understand the literary tastes of the past precisely when they cut against, rather than confirm, our contemporary tastes and obsessions. Professor Irlam's study of a long neglected tradition of poetic "enthusiasm" might in fact realize the sort of "archaeo-historicism" Robert Hume favors. Shawn Irlam traces a fascinating story, by which enthusiasm in rhetoric is anathametized during the religious and political wars of the seventeenth century (by the philosopher Thomas Hobbes, the clergyman Robert South, and the poet John Dryden), then rehabilitated for its valuable moral rhetoric for the improvement of readers by early eighteenth century writers: Sir Richard Blackmore, John Dennis, and, most famously, Joseph Addison in his "Essays on the Pleasures of the Imagination." According to Irlam, enthusiasm becomes a species of "secular, literary affect," a form of sublime "aesthetic transport," and its most influential poetic expression is the poetry of James Thomson and Edward Young (p. 236). The last four chapters offer readings of these two poets, focusing on their major works, Thomson's The Seasons and Young's Night Thoughts. Irlam argues that the first poem stages moments of elation in poetic retirement, in relation to nature, so as to ground a moral subject: "…the thaumaturgy of epiphany presented in The Seasons is a theory about, and a contribution toward regrounding the social order and social equilibrium through the private purification of the 'Passions' or 'moral sense' (Shaftesbury) of each individual (p. 170)." Young, according to Irlam, "participates in a Sensibility cult of poetic enthusiasm and otherworldliness. I suggest he moves the concept of Enthusiasm beyond the 'logic of sacrifice' with which it tends to stop in Thomson's poem, to articulate a subject of self-alienation and 'the stranger within' (p. 172)." What is affected by this extremely intelligent and sustained analysis of a lost and unfamiliar form? It not only retrieves a lost way of writing and reading poetry, one that was central to the eighteenth century. Irlam offers a good deal of evidence for his central claim: that the poetry of enthusiasm lies behind the more historically successful poetic forms for expressing emotion developed by the "pre-Romantic" and Romantic poets. The intellectual finesse of this fine book, and the subtlety with which Irlam develops a new vocabulary with which to read Thomson and Young, may make these long unreadable poems readable in the twenty-first century.
A number of books demonstrate the patient regard for the rather intense relationship of eighteenth century English elite culture to Latin literature and Roman culture. In The English Horace: Anthony Alsop and the Tradition of British Latin Verse, D.K. Money combines an overview of the British tradition of writing in Latin, a critical biography of Sir Anthony Alsop, and a collection of his writings in Latin, with an English translation. This book is learned, beautifully written and produced, and includes some wonderful moments of counter-attack against the hostility toward the eighteenth century Latin verse productions Alsop anticipates from his modern readers: "Modern scholars may affect to despise what they cannot do. Our eighteenth-century boy could not have the inestimable pleasure of today's literary theory, and had to subsist on less exalted forms of creativity (p. 7)." In Dryden and the Traces of Classical Rome, Paul Hammond offers an elegant and sure-footed analysis of Dryden's use of Rome as a key reference point in conceptualizing seventeenth century England. In a wide-ranging analysis of Dryden's use of Latin poetic models, his allusions to Latin literature, and his extensive translations, Hammond reads Dyrden's corpus as a "textual field…[in which] there is…a vital boundary-a line running between English and Latin, between England and Rome, present and past, although each of these terms is generated and defined by its partner, and thus finds its identity by reflection, its stability by the movement between itself and its opposite (p.9)." Another book shows how an English poet can become the object of formal verse imitation during the eighteenth century. In Edmund Spenser in the Early Eighteenth Century: Education, Imitation, and the making of a Literary Model, Richard C. Frushell demonstrates the scope and intensity of the Spenser revival in the eighteenth century, the way Spenser was read for enjoyment and imitated as an exemplary poet, long before the Romantic revival gave his subjects and poetic style literary centrality. This book offers a detailed account of the way Spenser's text was taught, anthologized, and edited in the early eighteenth century; it includes an impressive trio of bibliographies, most intriguingly, a list of "Eighteenth Century Imitations and Adaptations" of Spenser.
Two of the books under review suggest the fruitfulness of a critical genre rather unpopular of late: the sustained, historically sensitive, study of one important literary work. In Styles of Meaning and Meanings of Style in Richardson's "Clarissa", Gordon D. Fulton offers a consistently insightful and fresh reading of Clarissa through the issue of how Richardson's various styles-most especially the style with which characters write and speak-mean, both within the novel and for readers of the novel. Fulton argues that Richardson encourages his reader to discover the limitations of the facile proverbial speech used by Lovelace and others, and explore the psychological and social implications of moral sentiments-a style of meaning associated with the heroine, Clarissa. Fulton makes a very strong case for seeing the moral sentiment as a medium for psychological analysis, rather than the way most modern critics view it, as evidence of a narrow didacticism. In the second part of the book, Fulton brings his historically sensitive understanding of style to bear upon the problem of love and desire in Clarissa. Fulton argues that Richardson revise the styles of love made popular by novelists like Eliza Haywood, so as to teach female readers the power asymmetries built into the libertine discourses of love. While this idea will not surprise those who are familiar with the archive of recent Clarissa criticism, Fulton's discussions of Clarissa's involuntary styles of love, the libertine practice of physical description, and Richardson's elaboration of a reformed style of sentimental libertinism are consistently illuminating. This book not only offers a new set of terms with which to grasp the remarkable achievement that is Clarissa, it is also a wise and thoughtful intervention within a well-developed area of scholarship. However, some will find the book limited by its attempt to stay faithful to Samuel Richardson's moral program as Richardson himself might state it, if he could participate in our critical styles of meaning. However, none will accuse Jens Martin Gurr of seeking to explicate Laurence Sterne's conscious agenda in publishing his most famous novel. In "Tristram Shandy" and the Dialectic of Enlightenment, Jens Martin Gurr argues that Sterne's great novel realizes the deepest insights of a book published in 1944, Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno's The Dialectic of Enlightenment. Gurr defends his book against the charge of anachronism by insisting that Horkheimer and Adorno offer a valuable "foil" against which to "read Sterne's critique of enlightenment (p. 9)." Professor Gurr begins by offering a rather simplified account of the English Enlightenment, most especially its concepts of reason, science, and progress, its moral philosophy, and its "autocritique" (in writers like Jonathan Swift). In Gurr's reading of Tristram Shandy, Walter Shandy is the inflexible and abstracting proponent of a naïve but dangerous enlightenment projects of science, system and improvement; Tristram as a child figures as the "victim" of Walter's enlightenment project; and Tristram as the writer figures as one who uses digression, his narrative technique, and Uncle Toby's inquiries into the military arts to defend himself against Enlightenment progress. At the center of Sterne's critique of Enlightenment, according to Gurr, is what Adorno and Horkheimer will formulate theoretically many years later: a dialectical tendency of enlightenment abstraction and rational system-building to turn into a new kind of mythology, of progress toward freedom to revert to new forms of domination, of the autonomous individual to become the subject of ideology. While it is nice to have Sterne already aware of all this, this critique of enlightenment is based in a concept of dialectics, as developed by Hegel and Marx, which seems to me to be deeply antipathetic to Sterne's way of writing and thinking.
New Studies on Print Culture
In Social Authorship and the Advent of Print Margaret J.M. Ezell has diagnosed a blind spot in our study of early modern practices of reading and writing: we imagine that in order to "count" as a reader one must read print, to "count" as an author one must publish. Ezell points to the wide and extensive practice of writing and reading of manuscripts, practices that are systematically filtered out by a literary history that itself evolves out of the print media culture of the early modern period. Literary history has ignored manuscript media culture ever since, by placing it on the tendentious side of a series of oppositions, where the enlightened future belongs to the first term: democratic/ aristocratic; public/ coterie; central/ marginal; writing for money/ dilettante. To begin the process of recovery her analysis makes urgent, Ezell documents the manuscript production and consumption among a group of Catholic families. Why circulate one's work in manuscript? Ezell argues that this practice appealed to men and women who wanted to circulate their writing to others, but who had a host of reasons to avoid the public glare of print publication: modesty, the personal nature of a private topic (a birth, a wedding), the hazards and difficulty of the London book trade. Even for a poet with public ambitions like Alexander Pope, Ezell demonstrates that we need, especially for the early career, an understanding of manuscript circulation as a complement to the oft-told story of his prowess in working the market in printed books. For those who favored manuscript circulation of their poems, there was always the danger that one's manuscript would be appropriated by enemies or well-intentioned relatives (e.g. the poems of Anne Bradstreet) and published without one's having any shaping control of the process of publication. Ezell's collection of essays offers an important "contrarian" perspective upon authorship and publication; she makes a convincing case for the persistence of writing and reading in manuscript. Although these essays are sometimes labored and repetitious, they offer a powerful corrective to the modernist "Whig" progressive histories of the rise of print, the author and the public sphere. This book also demonstrates why different media forms are sustained by different cultural practices. The circulation of a fair copy of a manuscript to friends precedes and survives the "rise" of print publication. Why? Because of the valuable differences from print text it sustains to our own day, for example, by offering itself to readers as a unique original.
Paulina Kewes's book, Authorship and Appropriation: Writing for the Stage in England, 1660-1710, offers another way to refine our understanding of the rise of print culture. Kewes revises the notion that the modern concept of the author as original creator and proprietor followed upon the Queen Anne law of 1710. Authorship and Appropriation convincingly narrates the cultural prehistory of the first copyright law in the struggle around the ground-rules for authorship of the printed plays during the Restoration. The widespread practice of adapting earlier English plays and materials from plays, romances, novels, histories and many other sources incited accusations of plagiarism, a charge which sometimes also implied commercial infringement upon the literary property of an other. Debates about plagiarism, which swirled around the most prominent playwrights of the day (Dryden, Behn, D'Urfey), helped to forge the literary and critical practices we associate with modern authorship: careful acknowledgement of sources (p.90), the defense of the practice of improving "imitation" (p.60), a new skepticism about the value of collaboration, a double-standard on plagiarism which made unacknowledged borrowing from English sources "plagiarism" but the importation of foreign or Classical sources "as a means of benefiting the public at home" (p.111). Professor Kewes book gives new importance to the critical and bibliographical labor of Gerard Langbaine (1656-92), which catalogued all plays published in English so "the organizing principle shifts from play to author" (p.96). Kewes contextualizes Langbaine's oft quoted accusations of Dryden for plagiarism as part of a larger mapping of drama such that the relationship between author, audience and literature changes: "Gerard Langbaine's Momus Triumphans and An Account of the English Dramatick Poets adumbrates such corollaries of modern copyright law as the concept of literary property, fair use, copyright infringement, and even international copyright. His writings constitute the earliest speculative effort to reconcile the propriety interests of authors and of the public" (p.129). Most suggestively, Kewes shows how Langbaine's extensive annotated bibliographies, with discussion of the sources of plays, when coupled with the new publishing practices of the 1650s and 1660s (like octavo collected editions of plays by living playwrights), lay the groundwork for the development of a genuine canon of English playwrights. This book offers a valuable compilation of "Collected Editions of Plays, 1604-1720" as its Appendix B.
The burgeoning of scholarly attention to early modern print culture is evidenced by D. F. McKenzie's Panizzi lectures at the British Library, collected and published as Bibliography and the Sociology of Texts. These lectures offer a deft, subtle and polished defense of an expanded understanding of "bibliography," the first term in the title of the book, as most fully realized through a "sociology of texts," the final phrase of the title. For McKenzie bibliography enables a means of studying the history of texts that not accessible to a host of other disciplines: literary criticism, history, library science, etc. Bibliography, for example, can study the way "form effects meaning" (p. 13), without the disciplinary bias McKenzie does not so much define in abstract terms as locate in all the editing projects he calls into question. Thus, McKenzie offers an elegant analysis of how William K. Wimsatt and M. C. Beardsley misquote William Congreve's prologue to The Way of the World (by dropping two commas and changing a crucial word) in such way as to reverse Congreve's sense; thus they enact the assault upon authorial intention their essay advocates. McKenzie is not interested in an essentialist project to reconstruct the author's intention using rigorous bibliography. Yet he wants fidelity to the text shaped by the author and his/her many collaborators to constitute one pole of authority in a sociology of texts. McKenzie cleaves to the meanings he finds in Congreve's text because McKenzie accepts the logic of a famous passage he quotes from Areopagitica: that a book is a "viol" that "preserves" "the purest efficacie and extraction of that living intellect which bred them" (p. 31). But McKenzie qualifies that project of gaining access to authorial intention this way: "Milton's concept of the book and of an author's presence within it represents only one end of a bibliographical spectrum. The counter-tradition of textual transformation, of new forms in new editions for new markets, represents the other. A sociology of texts would comprehend both. It would also extend their application to the scholarship of non-book texts (p. 39)." These lectures are scattered with vivid examples of the way the diverse forms of texts express meaning: from Joyce's additions to his text in page proofs, so as to exploit the arbitrary numerology arising from what page number a passage appears on, to the particular signs (neither simply writing or pictures, but something else) put on the Treaty of Waitangi by Moiri chiefs in New Zealand in 1835. Many who study print culture, and other forms of media study, will take issue with McKenzie's way of envisioning an expanded bibliography as a sociology of texts. But this powerful position statement will be required reading for those wanting to chart a different path.
Philosophical Approaches
With The Age of Reasons: Quixotism, sentimentalism and political economy in eighteenth-century Britain, Wendy Motooka has written a shrewd, thoughtful and ambitious intellectual history which ranges from early 18th century debates about the innateness of moral sentiment initiated by the Third Earl of Shaftesbury to the late century concepts of political economy invented by Adam Smith. Through all the texts she reads, Professor Motooka finds habitual reference to Don Quixote as a way to characterize opinions that are ungrounded and eccentric, though they are claimed to have universal validity. This way of thinking and arguing takes on special pertinence after the skepticism about the possibility of such a thing as universal reason, and a belief instead, that truth could only come to men and women through empirical experience and testing. In her second chapter Motooka traces the debates between the Third Earl of Shaftesbury, Bernard Mandeville, and Francis Hutcheson: in the debate between the last two, each accuses the other of having a theory about what guides human nature (egoticism, benevolence) which is quixotic: it may be true in some instances, but it runs counter to the underlying logic of human nature, properly understood. The Age of Reasons explains why "quixotism" came to be a recurrent recourse in polemics around problems posed by a skeptical modern epistemology. Since it proved impossible to ground an interpretation of moral sentiment in a generally binding reason, moralists had recourse to appeals to personal experience. But such an appeal was little more than a Don Quixote-like claim that what one personally felt, experienced and believed was universal, was a position that one either assumed fondly as virtuously true, though un-provable, and/or attributed to one's benighted, and slightly mad, polemical opponent. In short, stripped of a ground in reason, thinkers of the epoch found themselves in an "age of reasons." In the readings of Sarah Fielding's David Simple, Charlotte Lennox's The Female Quixote, Henry Fielding's Tom Jones, Lawrence Sterne's Tristram Shandy, one feels both the strengths and weaknesses of a reading through intellectual history and the vacillations of a problematic like quixotism and sentimentalism. On the positive side, all of these novels are brought into relation to each other, through the coherence of a debate about the efficacy of empirical feeling as a ground for moral sentiment. But on the negative side, the readings of particular novels, by the way they are made to culminate in a position within an philosophical debate, lose much of their nuance, irony, and humor. For example, in introducing her reading of Lennox, Motooka tells us that "[t]he satire in The Female Quixote ridicules not only romantic extravagance, but also (masculine?) rational empiricism and the reading practices associated with it. Lennox's novel mocks empiricism as quixotism" (p. 126) To secure this sort of philosophical moral from a novel, Motooka must also give the novel very particular ideological purposes: "Like many of his contemporaries, [Henry] Fielding associates the quixotic with specific political and intellectual conflicts-women's equality, empiricism, moral diversity, Jacobitism-and he responds to these conflicts by embracing sentimentalism" (p. 142) In the reading that follows, Motooka gives Henry Fielding the role of one who is surprisingly idealistic, and finally a programmatic sentimentalist. Within the plot of Motooka's book, this makes him a counter-point to the more radical skeptic, Lawrence Sterne. However, this characterization of Fielding will appear surprising to most scholars, who have noted the balance in both Fielding and Sterne between sentiment and skepticism, and have also given an important role to something Motooka utterly ignores: their rhetorical use of laughter. A sharp departure from the cultural and historical orthodoxy of most contemporary work, this book is smart and important; it should provoke interesting debate.
Motooka's book may be linked with other works in two directions: its use of philosophy as a key to a central cultural obsession, and through its focus upon the English rewritings of Don Quixote. In Reconcilable Differences in Eighteenth Century English Literature, William Bowman Piper demonstrates the ramifications over a wide range of literary writings of a skeptical philosophical tradition he dubs "perceptualism." At the center of that tradition is the question, enunciated most powerfully in the writings of George Berkeley and David Hume: what if nature, and the people who inhabit nature, don't have an independent existence, but are strictly perceptual? Piper demonstrates the pertinence of this question and worry across a very broad arc of genre-writers couplings of the eighteenth century: "Swift's satires," "Gay's jests," "Pope's essays," "Radcliffe's mysteries" and "Austen's acknowledgments." While the readings of these texts are learned, incisive and quite suggestive, the tradition of skeptical philosophy that frames these readings is reduced, in the short introduction, to a discussion of four terms: "things," "resemblance," "causation," and "perceptions." In this readable version of Philosophy 101, the philosophical texts of Berkeley and Hume are denied the dense and complex textuality later conferred, in the chapters that follow, upon the literary texts they influence.
The last few years have rediscovered the centrality of Don Quixote to eighteenth century Britain. Besides the book by Montooka, and books in the last few years by the distinguished scholars Ian Watt and Ronald Paulson, Rachael Schmidt has given us an authoritative survey of the illustrations of Cervantes novel, Critical Images: the Canonization of "Don Quixote" through Illustrated Editions of the eighteenth Century. This is an extremely useful, theoretically informed study of the illustrations used in the editions of this enormously popular novel over the course of the long eighteenth century, from the Lord Carteret edition of 1738 to the Romantic illustrations of Francisco de Goya. This book, along with the David Blewitt's study of the illustrations of Robinson Crusoe, helps to overcome the visual asceticism of those many imageless 20th century scholarly editions of canonical novels. This book establishes illustrations as a valuable historically specific translation of the word into image. In addition, Professor Schmidt's Critical Images confirms part of Motooka's thesis: that for the eighteenth century British culture, "Don Quixote" was more than a novel. It was a rich interpretive field for meditation upon a broad spectrum of ideas and issues.
Kevin Hart's Samuel Johnson and the Culture of Property has many of the qualities-of beautiful style and understated subtlety-more often found in a literary essay than a scholarly monograph. In seeking to understand Samuel Johnson's relationship to property, Professor Hart takes into account Locke's concepts of property and the debates leading up to the House of Lords debates upon authorial property and limited copyright that culminate with Donaldson v Becket in 1774. However, this book does not aspire to the broad social and cultural issues of many books in literary studies these days. Instead, Hart's book is an insightful intervention within the debates of one of the most venerable institutions of English, the Johnson and Boswell club (or clubs). At issue is an assessment of that powerful act of appropriation and expropriation effected by Boswell, when he made a systematic study of the life and conversation of Samuel Johnson, and then transformed both into a monumental biography, the Life. Does this monument-building betray and obscure the work (and Works) of the esteemed father of English literary studies, as Johnsonians like Donald Greene have claimed, or is Boswell's Life an indispensable information source by which we can know Johnson as a man with a profound inner life, the first melancholy modern? Hart's book is a valuable contribution to historicizing and complicating a question like that, a way to study and value Johnson's Works as well as Boswell's Life as well as the whole monumental legend and property that "Johnson" and the "Age of Johnson" have become. Hart reminds us, "[a] monument tells us that an individual has been made into more than himself, made sublime or into a spectacle" (p. 20). I especially value Professor Hart's critique of the Life for representing Johnson as one who always has the brisk and witty "answers," thereby effacing the much more questioning human, readable in the many texts Johnson wrote, for example, "The Vanity of Human Wishes" and Rasselas. However, while Hart's qualification of Boswell's use of Johnson is both useful and cogent, one can't help feel that he is still thinking within the cozy and urbane confines of the Johnson Club. To put my complaint in the jargon of the recent stock frenzy: Hart's account of the Johnson legend, monument and property reads more like the "buy recommendation" from a firm floating a new offering of stock, than the balanced assessment of a skeptical analyst. It would be most valuable to have a reading of this vast literary "property" that is more critically detached, or less vested in the shares of the literary industries of "Johnson" and "Boswell."
In April London's book, Women and Property in the Eighteenth-Century English Novel, we receive a view of women as the outsiders in the negotiation of both real and literary property. For London the English idea of property is not just an autonomous concept to be defined out of the relevant passage in John Locke, contrasted as to liberal and civic humanist, and then discovered operating, in a manifest or latent fashion, in the fiction of the period. Instead, through a subtle and patient exploration of a wide band of canonical and non-canonical fiction in Britain in the last six decades of the eighteenth century, Professor London finds property everywhere entangled with women and men, gender and genre, the georgic and the pastoral. The reading of these last two Classical genres in the most original feature of London's study. Thus, in London's reading of Samuel Richardson's Clarissa, Clarissa's disciplined self-making, most explicit in the improvements she makes in managing the estate she inherits from her grandfather, is associated with the civilizing labor of the georgic. The aristocratic associations of pastoral luxury and ease are associated with Lovelace, and in a more tortured fashion, with the authoritarian and acquisitive aims of the Harlowe family's marriage plots. By the end of the novel, Clarissa's labors (of writing and self-construction) are appropriated, through the editorial labors of Belford, for a civic humanist project of public good that is coded as masculine. London argues a similar movement toward masculine consolidation of property in women's bodies and writing in Pamela and Sir Charles Grandison. Over the course of the extended survey of novels and other texts-including accounts of the nostalgic return to pastoral in male centered sentimental fiction, like The Man of Feeling, novels of "community and confederacy," and novels of radicalism and reaction from the 1790s-Professor London demonstrates that a complex imbrications of women and property enable this period to appropriate the property of another. London also convinced me of the supple usefulness of a rigorous conception of georgic and pastoral. London's reading of the eighteenth century offers a rather gloomy (albeit powerful) rejoinder to those more hopeful accounts of the novel's rise written by Ian Watt and Nancy Armstrong and Catherine Gallagher. Throughout London's book emphasis falls upon the constraints working within the figuration of women and/as property. By London's account, in the game to determine the nature and possession of property, female autonomy is usually an illusion, men hold all the trumps, and almost always control the property. While there is an internal rigor to this argument, London's book tracks the fate of Richardson's most celebrated heroine rather too closely. While Clarissa gives up the estate she inherited from her grandfather to the rapacious Harlowe family, and her literary estate to Belford, Clarissa also prototypes a virtuous female agency through writing that would inspire many women, including a generation attached to Richardson, to turn their writing into literary property in the last five decades of the eighteenth century. I wonder how London would explain how the spectacle of (Clarissa's) expropriation incites many acts of (self-) appropriation.
Property plays a major role in the life of the women chronicled in Amada Vickery's readable history, The Gentleman's Daughter: Women's Lives in Georgian England. This history departs from most social history by refusing to produce an a priori division between the lives of upper class, middle class or lower class women. Instead, Vickery reads the diaries and letters of over a hundred "gentile women," belonging to the gentry, the trading class and the profession class, in the counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire during the eighteenth century. Through a careful reconstruction of the social networks within which these women lived, Vickery disputes a familiar theme of eighteenth century social history: that women were being forced into more rigidly conceptualized sphere of private or domestic life. Instead Vickery documents the complex and expansive life of women in this stable and affluent period, and describe their central role in social life. For example, the "heroine" of this book, Elizabeth Shackleton has "public" days when all the vulgar in the neighborhood are invited to her estate, at the same time that she holds elegant entertainments when only the gentile are invited. Vickery organizes her chapter-long accounts almost the way an eighteenth century conduct book would, under the following rubrics: gentility, love and duty, fortitude and resignation, prudent economy, elegance, civility and vulgarity, propriety. Vickery's way of cleaving to the terms preferred within the eighteenth century is of a piece with a perspective that is anti-ideological, a tone which is sympathetic and celebratory, and a history that ends being too uncritical. Anyone wanting a detailed and comprehensive view of the finely interconnected lives of over a hundred women from this period will benefit from Vickery's scrupulous reconstruction of their writing networks. But this book invites the intellectual questions Vickery herself demurs from asking.
Reading and women
E. J. Clery's The Rise of Supernatural Fiction 1762-1800 is a rich, intelligent and important book on the turn toward the supernatural in the early days of the gothic novel. Many have pondered the paradox that the "age of enlightenment" should sponsor the "gothic turn" in modern entertainment, a taste for the thrills of the supernatural that shows no sign of waning as we enter the twenty-first century. Rather than seeing this turn in novelistic writing as a rejection of enlightenment rationality, or the invention of the modern divided subject (as some Lacanians do), Clery offers a careful scholarly genealogy for the "rise of the supernatural." Her story begins with the sensational case of the Cock Lane ghost, the notoriety it caused and the inquiries it provoked. Clery shows how the interest in the supernatural has several contexts that elevate its importance to these early skeptical inquirers: Christian belief in spirits and afterlife, the Classical valuing of the sublime, and tragedy's orchestration of moods of deep pathos. Clery shows how an early eighteenth century debunking of the reality of ghosts and spirits (in Joseph Addison and others) is transformed into a camp aesthetic, grounded in the way readers and viewers share the spectacle of the supernatural. For example, at mid-century David Garrick created scenes of what Clery calls "enthusiastic terror" in his performances of Hamlet confronting his father's ghost. In this theatrical context, viewers can assume the fictionality of a ghost, but enjoy it nonetheless as a compelling aesthetic effect. It is this canny consumption of the supernatural as camp good fun, fearful suspense as an effect of cunning narrative, which Walpole's Castle of Otranto both exploits and consolidates. The vogue for the supernatural not only challenged Richardson's naturalistic program of reading for moral example; it also epitomized the danger of modern consumption to the whole program of enlightenment: the development of an unreal need for unreal representations. By Clery's account, the attack upon the gothic craze in novel reading became an extension of the long-standing attack upon female luxury.
In an ambitious and important chapter, "The terrorist system," Clery begins by establishing the importance of William Lane's launching of the Minerva Press in 1790. By regularizing format, specializing in the gothic genre, publishing many of the novels anonymously, and expanding his network of circulating libraries into the smallest towns and villages of Britain, Lane took a decisive step in the modern commodification of reading under his Minerva imprint. This is the genre of gothic writing that the self-styled literary men of the early 19th century loved to hate and denounce. But a different strain of the gothic, the German "paranoic supernaturalism" of male chases, doubles, and uncanny reversals, comes in for admiration (by the likes of Coleridge) for its sublime effects (P. 140). The intensity of the vogue for the gothic, and the limited set of its conventions, helps to provoke imitation, plagiarism, pirating, parodies and formulas, as well as adaptation to the stage. Clery argues that it is at this juncture that something like the modern culture system is discernable. It begins to dawn upon some that this is not a phenomenon that might be "corrected" with condescending critique, but is now a permanent feature of the cultural landscape, a culture industry where each would follow their own taste, rather than the cultivated taste the eighteenth century successors to Addison had worked so hard to educate. The result is a partition of culture into high and low, with which we still live. Throughout this study Clery evinces a convincing skepticism of late eighteenth century efforts to assert the overwhelmingly female readership of gothic novels. Instead Clary argues that that idea enabled male critics to anathematize a general shift in reading tastes. Clary's critical narrative also helps explain how literature of the English Romantic period became reduced and canonized around six poets. Thus Clery reads Walter Scott's attack upon Ann Radcliffe's rationalized supernatural (plots that re-enact the enlightenment expelling of fearful specters), as based upon a tendentious set of hierarchies: men are to women as imagination is to physical luxury as the supernatural gothic (of Monk Lewis) is to the natural gothic (of Radcliffe). Rather than characterize the supernatural as an arbitrary taste for fantasy escape (perhaps from a boring rationalism), Clary's book develops the terms for seeing this turn in taste as deeply embedded in the complex cultural strife of the late eighteenth century.
Two other books study the way women's reading became a touchstone within the development of Enlightenment reading practices. In Women's Reading in Britain, 1750-1835, Jacqueline Pearson offers a very broad survey of the way men and women represent women's reading practices. In placing the debate about women's reading within a larger struggle for cultural authority, this book does not break new ground. However, it does offer the largest survey to date of the many different voices, speakers, and positions within the fraught debate about whether and how women should read. This book offers an overview of many sites of the reading debate: Richardson's program for women's reading; the many genres that attracted women readers (from sermons and poetry to romances); case histories of very different readers (Laetitia Pilkington, Frances Burney, Elizabeth Carter and Jane Austen); the physical places of reading (from private library to circulating library); the breakthrough represented by working women's reading; and, finally, the debate about novel reading. Pearson's study shows the many ways reading became a fraught cultural act. In Regulating Readers: Gender and Literary Criticism in the Eighteenth-Century Novel, Ellen Gardiner explores another dimension of this act: the way literary criticism, often embedded in eighteenth century novels, sought to regulate the reading of women. Beginning with The Spectator and Eliza Haywood's The Female Spectator, Gardiner describes the new "trope" of the "spectator-as-reader", and then shows how the idea of the reader as a critical spectator is conceptualized, promoted, appropriated and transformed by an arc of both male and female writers over an 80 year period: Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, Charlotte Lennox, Sarah Fielding, and Jane Austen. Regulating Readers demonstrates the pervasiveness within the novels of the period of efforts to shape reading, especially women's reading, as coextensive with the development of the discourse of criticism. While the earlier novels almost always placed that authority in the men (for example, the doctor who closes down Arabella's errant reading at the end of The Female Quixote), later novelists like Sarah Fielding (in The Cry) and Jane Austen (in Mansfield Park) placed that authority in the female characters in the novels.
There is a wonderful polemical directness in George E. Haggerty's important new contribution to gay and lesbian studies in this period, entitled Men in Love: Masculinity and Sexuality in the Eighteenth Century. Haggerty accepts the consensus position, as developed by Michel Foucault, that modern homosexuality, as a practice and identity position, is a relatively recent, late 19th century invention. But he offers a shrewd correction to two recurrent tendencies he detects in most of the scholarship on male-male relationship: to repeat the logic of the sodomy trials of the eighteenth century by straining to discover if the men in question really "did it"; or, conversely, to assure us all, that no matter the scope, passion, and extravagance of avowal of desire and affection between men, "they were nothing more than friends." Haggerty gets us to see what is homophobic and disciplinary in these two responses. Why, since Western culture has given us a powerful, ambiguous and vexed four-letter word to describe this type of human attachment, why don't we just call it "love?" Because, some might reply, the word "love" can function as a euphemism, sliding in meaning, as it so often does, between lustful sexual acts and a profound feeling of attachment? Yes, replies Haggerty, and that is precisely what makes "love" the proper word and concept to describe the "men in love" in the eighteenth century his book investigates. Framing his study with a deft and readable overview of the debates in gay studies, Haggerty organizes the first half of his book into overviews of three historically specific types of masculinity: the "heroic friendships" found in Restoration heroic drama (and beyond) that build upon the idealization of the male-male bond in classical times; the "gay fops" and "straight fops" who populate the comedies and novels of the eighteenth century, figures who most often express the culture's unease with effeminacy; and, finally, the special importance of the man of feeling and sensibility as he develops in the novels and letters of the second half of the century, and offers a language for the articulation of more explicit same-sex love. All three of these chapters deliver a vivid account of how a particular style of masculinity offers a way of expressing same sex love, or making it a matter for public opprobrium. What emerges is a strong sense of the variety and dynamism of the way men loved men. The second half of the book offers case studies of Thomas Gray, William Beckford and Horace Walpole. In these three chapters, Haggerty finds a way to balance a sensitive reading of the biography with a nuanced reading of their writing. The object of attention is the relationship between men, and the nature of that relationship, at it unfolds in tension with the homophobia of the period. However, Haggerty shows, in his thoughtful discussion of passages from poems and plays and letters and novels, how entangled matters of love are with the writing of texts. Thus, by reading Gray's series of texts to an absent and beloved friend-first Horace Walpole then Richard West-Haggerty demonstrates how Gray finally sublimates those feelings into the complexly realized melancholy of the Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard. In moving from a same sex love that must be hidden in private letters or Latin poems, Gray memorializes his own loss in a form that allows it to become public and universal. Like the best criticism, Haggerty's readings changes the way very familiar literature reads. Because of the power of Haggerty's account, it will be difficult to push the simple but vivid fact of men in love back into the closets of our cultural and literary histories.
Elizabeth Susan Wahl's book Invisible Relations: Representation of Female Intimacy in the Age of Enlightenment appears to be the feminist counter-point to Men in Love. In order to open the conceptual space for her study of what she calls "female intimacy", Elizabeth Wahl follows a very similar conceptual trajectory as George Haggerty does. Like Haggerty, Wahl is suspicious of the ease with which intense expressions of female intimacy have been dismissed as nothing more than friendships, expressed in the vernacular of another day; and like him, Wahl also feels that exclusive focus upon the precise nature of the sexual bonds between women turns into a tendentious, and ultimately fruitless, form of voyeurism. So Wahl sets out to narrate and interpret female intimacy which our own blind-spots and resistances have rendered "invisible." In a long, ambitious, and scrupulously researched book, Wahl looks at a wide range of instances of female intimacy in Britain and France from the middle of the seventeenth century to the middle of the eighteenth century. A project in social history more than literary studies, Wahl's book explores the nuances of a wide band of writing by both men and women to discern how changes in discourse and changes in practices cleared the space for the imagination of different species of female intimacy. She divides her study into three broad sections, each approaching the issue of female intimacy in a different way: "sexual models," "idealized models" and "the politics of intimacy." Part I, especially indebted to Foucault, demonstrates how openly sexist condemnations of female intimacy-in medical and legal texts that develop the figure of the "tribade", the "hermaphrodite," and the myth of the African female with the "monstrous clitoris" ((p. 34)-could nonetheless contribute to the emergence of the cultural idea of the lesbian. At the same time, libertine representations of female-female desire, by John Donne and Aphra Behn, could blend sympathetic tolerance and a repressive "heterosexual conversion"(p. 63). In her account of more idealized forms of female intimacy, Wahl is particularly good at describing the factors that make this intimacy so attractive: arranged marriages, the capacious early modern category of "friends," the French suspicion of marriage, and the dangers of childbirth. At the same time Wahl describes the way the slow and uneven movement toward the "companionate marriage," described long ago by Lawrence Stone, helps to consolidate a general suspicion of female intimacy, as man-hating, unnatural, and a betrayal of women's responsibility to bear children. This book is noteworthy when compared with many in eighteenth-century studies: by comparing French and English texts and history, Wahl allows us to be alert to the arbitrary turns in cultural history. Thus, women's role in the French salon has no equivalent in English culture. This is a rich, balanced and thoughtful book. It may become a model for the new cultural history being developed within gay and lesbian studies.
This year the new interest in sexuality, due in part to gay and lesbian studies, has reached the most apparently heterosexual of eighteenth century writers, Henry Fielding. In Honest Sins: Georgian Libertinism and the Plays and Novels of Henry Fielding, Professor Tiffany Potter offers a fresh and interesting way to situate the work of Henry Fielding. Rather than seeing him as a traditional moralist who had moments of personal backsliding, Potter works to demonstrate the unity of Fielding's aesthetic work, from the early plays, through Shamela, Joseph Andrews, Tom Jones, and Amelia. The concept that unifies these works, and Fielding's own life, is said to be "Georgian libertinism." For the way it assumes the priority of individualism, the primacy of pleasure, and propounds a subversive and skeptical view of social and religious and political orthodoxy, Fielding's writing does articulate a form of libertinism. However, instead of the violent, egotistical, hypersexualized libertine epitomized by the Earl of Rochester, and rationalized through the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes, Fielding, according to Professor Tiffany, promoted a moderate, good-hearted and ultimately ethical libertinism, expressed most vividly in the character of Tom Jones. This book offers a quite convincing and fresh reading of Fielding's work. However, I have two caveats: although the argument pivots upon the notion of a "Georgian" libertinism, relatively little is done to make the case for a broad cultural formation. Instead the focus is always upon Fielding and his works. There is not even a taking into account of the new work done on Fielding's skepticism and deism, for example in the recent work of Ronald Paulson. Secondly, although this book offers a strong alternative to the traditional Christian interpretation developed by Martin Battestin, like Battestin, Potter is seeking to explain the deeper conscious moral design of Henry Fielding, imagined as the masterful deity of his own work. This is a figure Fielding plays with in the prefaces to Tom Jones, but it is too limiting an assumption for most of Fielding's contemporary readers.
I'm not sure "sex sells" in the scholarly book trade, but I'm sure some of the books centered upon sexuality will raise some eyebrows, and hackles. With Misogynous Economies: the Business of Literature in Eighteenth-Century Britain, Laura Mandell has written a provocative book, one that is sure to offend many scholars of eighteenth century culture. This book links sadomasochism, the literary, the misogynistic impulse to abject women in the text, and the stabilization of a modern (capitalist) sense of business. This wide ranging argument moves from the satiric poetry of John Dryden, Jonathan Swift and Alexander Pope through Thomas Otway's The Orphan, Bernard Mandeville's Modest Defence of the Publick STEWS, the poetry of Mary Leapor, the "ladies anthologies" published across the long eighteenth century, to the poetry and criticism of Mrs. Letitia Barbauld. I can give you a sense of this complex argument by abstracting part of Mandell's reading of Alexander Pope's "Epilogue to the Satires." Suggesting that Pope's brandishing of satire as the "sacred Weapon! left for Truth's defense" has strongly erotic and auto-erotic resonance, Mandell argues that this poetry gets its valuable literariness not from its official satiric mission of social and moral critique (so often emphasized by the "canonizing critics" of Pope like Maynard Mack), but because of the libidinal economies it releases. In the slippage between the satiric narrator's attack upon and identification with the satiric target, this poetry often recruits a woman to figure the abjected, disgusting object that secures apparent closure for the satire. But the instability of this "solution" helps to assure the literary complexity and rigor of the best eighteenth century satire. What is earnest, bold and sometimes a bit mechanical about this reading is evident from the following quotation: "In early-eighteenth-century satire, indifferentiation between satirist and satiric object therefore promotes sadism and masochism, the scenario of humiliation. Misogyny, engendering the attacked body as female, serves the same purpose as depicting a suspect satiric persona: it gives male readers the opportunity for disidentification and simultaneous identification with the object of attack. The moment of disidentification with assaulted satiric object is the moment of moral outrage…[and] in misogynous representations involves abjection: the assaulted object is a filthy materiality that is 'not me' but 'female' (p. 31)." In the book length study that follows this reading of satire, Mandell explains misogynistic texts from Bernard Mandeville to the romantic poets, as arising from the need to win a separation of the "man of business" and the male poet from the abjected figure of the woman. What does such a reading do? First, its strong use of psychoanalytic thought, especially the writings of Julia Kristeva, allows this argument to make a strong case for the libidinal strain in canonical satire; it also complicates the accusations of misogyny made by Felicity Nussbaum and Laura Brown, by implicating feminist critiques of misogyny in the sadomasochistic pleasures of misogyny; and, more importantly, this reading contests the literalism by which the figures of women in these satires are understood to be historical women, tout court. By Mandell's account, misogyny is a fictional system whose real object is the material embodiment both men and women fear and canonical poetry is charged with sublimating away. While there is often a reductive directness in Mandell's way of putting all her polemical and literary cards on the table, most evident in the introduction, there is an exhilarating vigor in the critical work done by Misogynous Economies. It invites polemical engagement upon a range of important issues.
Literature and its (Constitutive) Others: Colonies, Race, Forgery, Education, Urban Space, Nation, The Grand Tour, Architecture
Some of the most innovative and informative books under review go outside the traditional purview of literary studies by linking the study of literature with historical and discursive "others" that help to define literature and culture. In Epistolary Fiction in Europe, 1500-1850, Thomas O. Beebee offers a fascinating and theoretically sophisticated analysis of the work of letter writing within culture. "This study…is the first to consider epistolary fiction as a pan-European form of vital importance to all the major European languages (p.3)." Although Beebee places the term "fiction" in his title, and indeed discusses a good deal of fiction from the major countries of Europe, including England, France, Germany, Spain and Italy, Beebee is going after larger game than literature. Grasping the astonishing range of letter writing in this period, from the commercial to the legal to the familiar to the public, Beebee insists that the letter is not a type of writing, nor is "epistolary fiction" really a "genre" in any narrow literary sense. Instead, Beebee writes a series of fascinating and challenging chapters, doing a genealogy of the complex traits and "power" of the letter within a complex cultural circuit over the 350 years of his attention. Each chapter begins with an image from which Beebee develops a certain context for the letter: in the letter-writing manual (as something to learn how to do, in order to address another properly), in its self-reflexive turns and returns to the letter-writer, in news and travel reporting that links together readers and writers, in the way it situates women as writers, in the way it intersects with political revolution. This is an ambitious and sometimes difficult book. Though this book's remarkable scope implies the unity and variety of European culture, is it ungrateful for me to wonder if many of the ideas developed here would have emerged more clearly and vividly from an intensive study of one circle of letter writers, letter readers, and the epistolary fiction they read and wrote?
In Tropicopolitans: Colonialism and Agency, 1688-1804, Srinivas Aravamudan embeds the study of the eighteenth century within a wide history of colonialism. This book is urbane, difficult, and ambitious in scope. By the way it incorporates and develops central debates that precede it, this book marks a significant fruition of nearly 20 years of colonial and "post-colonial" study of the eighteenth century. The difficulty of this book arises from a certain abstractness of conceptualization, as well as stylistic indulgences: the use of neologisms (you may have to practice to pronounce the title of this book), and specialized terms like "virtualizations" and "levantinizations," the headings for the first two of the three parts of this book. What are "tropicopolitans?" The term is the result of Professor Aravamudan's fusion of "the idea of the tropic" (both figural troping and the geographical locations of the tropics) and "cosmopolitan." Professor Aravamudan explains "[tropicopolitans is] a name for the colonized subject who exists both as fictive construct of colonial tropology and actual resident of tropical space, object of representation and agent of resistance. In many historical instances, tropicopolitans…challenge the developing privilege of Enlightenment cosmopolitans" (P. 4). The words "resistance" and "challenge" in the last quote suggest the political desire that motivates this study: to show how the colonialism practiced through discursive systems, fiction, policy, and finally powerful facts on the ground, between 1688 and 1804, did not overwhelm, but in fact provoked an "agency" that could challenge and resist that colonial project. However, Aravamudan's analysis of all that qualifies and vitiates Romantic narratives of resistance is both subtle and shrewd. This book is less a sequential narrative than an arc of analytical readings of texts and events, from Aphra Behn's Oroonoko (1688) to the rebellion in Haiti led by Toussaint Louverture. I can characterize the strength of this book, and illustrate the general traits of the thoughtful readings in Tropicopolitans, by noting the pivotal elements of Professor Aravamudan's reading of Aphra Behn's Oroonoko. Aravamudan begins with a savvy overview of previous criticism, which betrays those sentimentalizing and totalizing tendencies labeled "oroonokism" and "imoindaism." Aravamudan offers a witty thematic focus to his reading by describing how Behn's narrator's solicitude for Oroonoko resembles the cultural practices by which black children became pets for upper class English ladies in this period. Throughout this reading (and all the others in the book) there is a rich and nuanced analysis of historical context (of trade, race, and the generic coordinates for the novel). The second half of the reading pairs Behn's text with another text-in this case, Thomas Southerne's adaptation of the novel for the theatre-so as to think through the analogy between slaves and white women. What results from this reading, and the many others in this long and rich study, is a more comprehensive view of the stakes of reading Oroonoko: the Royal Slave: the eponymous hero is both tragic victim and pet, a surrogate for Charles I/James II, the plight of white women, and the fictional residue of a real slave. Aravamudan's ability to keep these many different possibilities in balance suggests the urbanity and sophistication of this study, its refusal of both a facile moralism and political neutrality. In readings that range through Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, Joseph Addison, Cato's Letters, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Edmund Burke, Samuel Johnson, William Beckford, Olaudah Equiano and the Abbe de Raynal, Professor Aravamudan always manages to offer a fresh view of familiar (and sometimes surprising) texts. At the same time this book documents the centrality of the colonial and imperial projects to a vast band of eighteenth century literature. After the compelling logic and perspective of this sort of study has been accepted, the eighteenth century looks very different: one of its grandest accomplishments-the conquest of the world-is also its greatest crime.
In African-British Writings in the Eighteenth Century, Helena Woodard seeks to expand our understanding of the legacy of Enlightenment rationales for slavery, by juxtaposing the humanist rationale for a hierarchy among the races with the critical responses of African-British writers, including, James Ukawsaw Gronniosaw and Ottobah Cugoano, Ignatius Sanchos, Olaudah Equiano, and finally Mary Prince. There are significant flaws in this book: its representation of Enlightenment humanism (and the great chain of being) is naïve and simplistic; it makes use of race theory as an already performed ideology critique; and, finally, its mode of reading (canonical and African British) writers is abstractly thematic. Nonetheless, this book will be valuable as a point of entry to the African-British writers of the Enlightenment, writers whose position gave them a unique vantage point for offering a critique of Enlightenment.
Paul Baines's new study, The House of Forgery in Eighteenth-Century Britain, helps to explain why forgery became central to eighteenth century British culture. It has long been understood that the "financial revolution" of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century, by making paper instruments central to commerce, had the secondary effect of making forgery a powerful new threat to private property and public welfare. Forgery was made a capital crime and prosecutions and convictions for this crime rose throughout the eighteenth century. But, perhaps most interestingly, Baines shows how forgery became the dark side of a whole series of positive projects of the period: the development of literary criticism to stabilize the texts of the Bible, Classical literature, and central national poets like Shakespeare, Chaucer and Milton; the emergence of the author as the proprietor of his work, in control of the shape and content of his/her published written body, or "corpus"; the use of the letter to fix the true moral character and personal identity of the writer; the collecting of antiquities in the interest of preserving the past. Forgery menaced all these projects with false religious and literary texts, impersonated authors, traduced characters, and phony objects. In November 19, 1759, John Ayliffe was hanged for forgery. Stephen Roe, the Ordinary of Newgate, offered a spirited condemnation of the forger, which Paul Baines glosses in this way: "The crime was properly Satanic: it erased identity and confused difference. Forgery was a kind of bourgeois treason. While coining was in one sense victimless, since it was a social offence, forgery always had an individual victim. Locke's forensic self, the cornerstone of eighteenth-century individualism, was infiltrated, made marginal to his own cipher, 'his nearest and most undoubted property, even his hand-writing, the key to all he possesses'"(p. 22). In its analysis of the eighteenth century cases of legal (or monetary) and literary forgery, Baines demonstrates a fruitful exchange between the legal discourses and textual ones: both bring charges and marshal textual evidence (whether holographic or stylistic), both seek to establish the true over the false, both appeal to others for a final judgment. Part of the interest of Baines' book arises from the wide range of canonical literary figures who became caught up in debates about forgeries of one sort or another: Alexander Pope's cunning manipulation of his own letters to prove Edmund Curll guilty of literary forgery (p. 42); Samuel Johnson's repetition in the Life of Milton of some of the plagiarism charges leveled by William Lauder against John Milton (p. 89); Samuel Johnson's role in calling into question the legitimacy of James Macpherson's Ossian poems; Horace Walpole's efforts to fix the authenticity of paintings and other collectables (p. 165). Paul Baines' compelling discussion of the discourse of forgery and authenticity in eighteenth century Britain poses a question for twenty-first century readers: are we entering, as some followers of Jean Baudrillard would claim, the age of simulation without regret, where the opposition between the original and the copy, the real and its simulation, the authentic and its forgery is being overcome once and for all? Or does the proliferation of new technologies of simulation make the differentiation of the forgery and the original all the more pressing?
In Plots of Enlightenment: Education and the Novel in Eighteenth-Century England, Richard A. Barney develops a thesis that most scholars of the English enlightenment would accept, but few would know how to formulate: that the vast project of education-in the broad sense of the moral and intellectual cultivation of adult citizens out of children-is central to those many eighteenth century novels written to improve their readers. Professor Barney's Plots of Enlightenment: Education and the Novel in Eighteenth-Century England traces the influence of the liberal "supervisory" model of education popularized by John Locke's enormously influential essay, "Some Thoughts concerning Education", 1693, as it resonates with a host of later texts and contexts: Mary Astell's "A Serious Proposal to the Ladies;" the arts of reading a character through physiognomy; Hogarth's Industry and Idleness; projects of school reform for the poor; Daniel Defoe's educational writings and Robinson Crusoe; Charlotte Lennox's The Female Quixote, and Eliza Haywood's Betsy Thoughtless. At the heart of the connection between novels and Locke's reformed pedagogy as Barney formulates it, is an isomorphism between the sorts of supervision both enable: "The strategy of observation, intervention, and resolution proves useful both as an instructional device and a means of deploying point of view, for the operations of observant pedagogy and novelistic narration…(p. 107)." In both narrative and the moderate and liberal rhetoric of Locke's "pedagogical theatre" there is the same problem: "how to 'excite' or entertain without sacrificing edification, and how to instruct without impounding the audience's/reader's autonomy or intelligence (p. 107)." In developing this analogy between novels and pedagogy, Professor Barney displays an admirable range of scholarly reference: he convinces this reader of the centrality of the educational imperative to a wide range of English enlightenment texts; he also usefully integrates modern theory from Paul DeMan and Michel Foucault to Pierre Bourdieu. Often Barney's interventions are very telling. Thus, Barney makes a very strong case that Locke's liberal pedagogy was often linked in eighteenth century practice to the ideals of the public virtue John Pocock associates with civic humanism. The practice of education aimed at what Barney provocatively calls "the concept of public privacy"(p. 131). I was less satisfied with the readings and general mapping of what Barney calls "novels of education." Many of the qualities he ascribes to these novels-the supervisory posture of the narrative; the change in the characters under the pressure of experience, etc-can be found in many other novels in the period, including novels he insists have a relatively static concept of character (Pamela, Clarissa, Joseph Andrews). The final strong claim for the English novel of education, that it, rather than the German Bildungsroman, is the proper beginning of the novel of development and evolving character that becomes conventional in the nineteenth and twentieth century, this claim, while interesting in itself, is asserted rather than demonstrated. Finally, throughout this impressive book there is something oddly austere about Barney's steadfast intent to see the novels of the eighteenth century as most centrally about instruction and improvement rather than pleasure or entertainment.
If Professor Barney makes "educational discourse" a matrix for literature, Cynthia Wall's new book, The Literary and Cultural Spaces of Restoration London, is a contribution to the new interest in the relationship between literature and another constitutive term: space, topography and geography. The vagueness of the title of this book fails to communicate its fruitful focus upon one event-the London fire of 1666-and the reconception and rebirth of London it precipitated. Professor Wall study first centers upon the more concrete and geographic and broadly cultural investigation of the fire, the crisis it precipitated, the new self-consciousness of space it imposed upon the citizens of London, the utopian plans for rebuilding, and, finally, the much more mundane negotiations in the actual rebuilding of London. Wall is at her best and most original in offering a rich and subtle narrative documentation of the aftermath of the fire; she is utterly convincing in demonstrating how profound a rethinking of space and city life the fire imposed upon Londoners. Thus, for example, what was familiar and known to memory had to be defined and rationalized; now citizens needed to secure the boundary of their property before the Fire Court (p.63); maps shifted from the fictive phenomenology of the bird's eye view of the city which "captures and contains 'the riches of the fayre streets," to the more analytical and detailed representation of the city required after the fire through "the modern ground plan." "The two-dimensional plot literally as well as figuratively represents blank space, emptiness, the inexpressible."(p. 84) Throughout Wall's book there is the suggestive implication that modern life is epitomized by the Londoner's need to come to terms with a newly abstract sense of urban space. While the reading of literary works in the second part of this book is thoughtful and convincing, Professor Wall fails to convince me that the event of the fire, or the new sense of abstract urban space it precipitated, is a more compelling and inevitable context for reading texts like Restoration drama or Defoe's novels, than numberless other contexts developed by scholars. Thus, for example, Wall speculates that the rooms in which Roxana performs her dance in a Turkish dress "probably follow the kind of floor plan introduced by Inigo Jones in the mid-seventeenth century (p. 207)." It is interesting to read Wall's reading of that scene alongside the illustration from Indigo Jones; it seems to work with Defoe's text, but, of course we don't know what that room looked like, because in fact the Roxana we have is an essentially textual creation. The action of the dance occurs in Defoe's written text from whence it is conducted to our minds. This sort of spatial and geographic reading constantly courts a forced literalization. In addition, the eponymous character's moral breakdown, traced by Wall over the course of Defoe's Roxana, has already been described by early scholars not interested in Defoe's spatial imagination. In spite of these reservations, this is a ground-breaking book for the rigorous and thoughtful way it recruits the discourse of urban geography, or "earth writing," to the study of literary writing's participation in the incomplete and ongoing definition of the cultural spaces we inhabit.
With Acts of Union: Scotland and the Literary Negotiation of the British Nation, 1707-1830, Leith Davis has written a timely and original intervention in current debates upon the nature of the political and the cultural, the nation and its literature. Rather than focusing upon the single punctual 1707 "Act of Union" which produced a parliamentary unity for Scotland and England, nations that had a "union of crowns" since 1603, Professor Davis focuses upon the dialogical exchange between English and Scottish writers in the century and a quarter after 1707. Behind this procedure lies a certain concept of the nation. As Davis explains, "this book examines the British nation not as a homogeneous stable unity, but as a dynamic process, a dialogue between heterogeneous elements. Far from being constituted by a single Act of Union, Britain was forged, in all of the variant senses of that word, from multiple acts of union and dislocation (p.1-2)." In a lucid Introduction to Acts of Union, Davis summarizes the concepts of the nation most useful for rethinking the vexed history of English unification with Scotland. Davis outlines the two assumptions that guide this project. First, Davis rejects the familiar notion that the nation has an original moment or experience of unity that is then troubled by difference. Going back to the English and Scottish negotiation of unity allows Davis to capitalize upon the post-colonial insight that "a concept of national identity [is] based not on homogeneity, …but on difference (p.5)." Secondly, Davis pursues the insight, developed by Raymond Williams, Terry Eagleton, and others, that the relative autonomy of literary culture from the political (a separation which is itself first conceived by eighteenth century aesthetics), enables culture to become an arena in which political tensions are expressed and reconciled. The very stability of the concept of Britain has always depended upon its literature: "literature within Britain…[is] not just a representation of a successful (or failed) historical unification…either complicit or oppositional…[but rather are] embodiments in themselves of the negotiations that have historically constituted the nation of Great Britain (p.7)." Professor reconstructs that dialogue of difference about that unity that is (not) Britain, by recounting, in as series of six chapters, the exchange between one English writer and one Scotish writer at a moment of crisis in the (dis-)unity that is Britain: Daniel Defoe and Lord Belhaven (around the Act of Union), Henry Fielding and Tobias Smollett (around the Jacobite rebellion of 1745), Samuel Johnson and James Macpherson (around the authenticity of Ossian poems), William Wordsworth and Robert Burns (around the idea of Burns as a poet), and Walter Scott's revision of British history and England literature (in "negotiation" with Thomas Percy), and finally in Thomas Carlyle's difference from Matthew Arnold around the literary legacy of Burns. Space does not allow me to do justice to this elegantly executed study. Each of the chapters of Acts of Union draws together relevant historical context, literary analysis, the various forms of "ambivalence" about nationhood, especially for the Scots. Thus, for example, the second chapter, "Narrating the '45: Henry Fielding, Tobias Smollett, and the Pretense of Fiction," Professor Davis demonstrates the very different strategies pursued by Fielding, in his journalism and in Tom Jones, and Smollett, in Roderick Random, to negotiate the tension between the subjects thrown into a history they can't control and the ideologically fraught and suspect languages unleashed by the '45. This is a deft and wise critical study, one that advances our understanding of the vexed and ongoing interplay between literature and politics, culture and the nation.
In Pleasure and guilt on the Grand Tour: Travel writing and imaginative geography, 1600-1830, Chloe Chard studies a very broad of mostly English and French travel writing to decipher the deep rhetoric of this form of writing. Professor Chard finds a recurrent tendency toward attributing to the places, peoples and cultures of the Grand Tour, most especially Italy, an intensification of life that engenders both pleasure and guilt. Rather than trace the history of travel on this terrain, or the experiences of real travelers, this book seeks to lay bare the rhetoric of travel: all the means by which the discourse (in the Foucaultean sense) of travel restages the grand tour for its readers, but then seeds the experience of future travels with an imaginative geography they will seek to re-enact. Reading the writings related to travel (whether actual or fictional) of Joseph Addison, William Beckford, Lawrence Sterne Lord Byron, Ann Radcliffe, Hester Piozzi, Mme. Germaine de Stael, and many others, Chard isolates the following rhetorical tropes and recurrent themes for staging the writer's encounter with the foreign on the grand tour: 'the commentary of intensification: hyperbolic pleasure"; "comparison and incomparability"; "profusion and excess"; "self-conscious extravagance"; "paradise and hell"; "the familiarity of the ancient past"; "tedious repetition"; "censure: excess and transgression"; "impulsive spontaneity"; "feminized responsiveness and manly restraint"; "the beautiful: mastery and effemination (sic)"; the varied disguises of "women of antique appearance and feminized ruins"; "the spectacle stares back;" "sublimity and escape." Over the course of the period surveyed, Chard detects various shifts in this rhetoric. For example, in the seventeenth century the male traveler, by coming to know the foreign as feminine, both risks and affirms his masculinity through travel; by the nineteenth century it is possible for a woman to be a competent observer of the foreign. My brief overview of this book suggests its strength as a shrewd and vivid analysis of particular incidents and discursive moments, as well as its weakness. Chard's ascetic refusal to take explicit account of the history of the grand tour, or biography of those who took the tour, (though it is always seeping into this book) gives this study an uncessary abstractness and diffuseness. The history of travel may be always mediated by rhetoric, but that travel need not, I think, be reduced to rhetoric.
In From the Temple to the Castle: An Architectural History of British Literature, 1660-1760, Lee Morrissey has written a pioneering exploration of the relationship between eighteenth century British architecture and literature, one that is at once historically justified and conceptually rigorous. Professor Morrissey makes a very strong case that our modern separation of literature and architecture into separate topics and distinct disciplines of study have blinded us to way eighteenth century commingled these two practices. In other words, Morrissey convinces me that it is not his book, but the writers he studies who have brought together these two ways of making meaning. In a beautifully written and illustrated study, Morrissey traces the mutual implication of literary forms of meaning and architectural ones through five different episodes: John Milton's revision of Paradise Lost reflects the classical concepts of proportion as espoused by Sir Henry Wotton; Sir John Vanbrugh's design for the Queen's/Haymarket theater refuses the moral and aesthetic correctness demanded by Jeremy Collier's critiques of Vanbrugh's The Provoked Wife; Pope's Essay on Man and his many architectural plans use a neo-Palladian style to win autonomy and "independence" through a mutual harmony of parts; the archeological historicism of Thomas Gray's explorations of the new site of Herculaneum supports both the reinterpretation of Stonehenge as antique Britain an not Roman as well as the rough-hewn pre-Romantic style of "Elegy Written in a Country Church-yard"; Horace Walpole's embrace of the mid century taste for "follies"-playful re-creations of earlier architectural style intended to enchant a viewer-allows him to design two influential models: his gothic estate, Strawberry Hill, and the first gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto. For Morrissey, Walpole's challenging alternatives to realism in novel writing and neo-classical proportion in architecture suggest the distance traveled over the course of his own book. The only disappointment in these chapters comes from the very brief and sketchy fashion Morrissey adumbrates the interpretive implications for each literary text of his architectural reading. On the other hand, this book is most thoughtful for the way it gets us to think about literature and architecture as both metaphorical modes of making meaning. When classicism celebrates the use of proportion as "faithful to nature," or its lines as "clean," or when the promoters of the gothic endorse a sturdy, rude and irregular form as "native" and natural, form in architecture is doing a metaphorical work that is very close to its use in literature. This is true even though form in architecture has centrally to do with shape and space rather than the forms of narrative, text, or structure central in literature (p. 131). In both an introduction and the coda, Morrissey thinks through these issues with a care and precision that is admirable. It allows him to avoid some of the reductionism implicit in Cynthia Wall's discussion of the rooms where Roxana dances. (See above, p. ) Morrissey's theoretical sophistication should make this book to become a starting point for scholars exploring the significance for literature the co-implication of Enlightenment literature and architecture invites.
One work under review seems to have emerged, and will be most useful for, teaching surveys of eighteenth century literature. In Eighteenth Century Writers in their World, Andrew Varney offers lively readings of paired texts under the sorts of rubrics many English professors use in survey courses on the literature of the Enlightenment: "Other worlds-Narratives of Travel: Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver's Travels;" "Wit and Virtue: The Way of the World and Clarissa;" "Money and Government: Roxana and The Beggar's Opera;" "Men and Women-Love and marriage: the Rape of the Lock, Roderick Random and Tom Jones;" "Writing by Women: the Female Poets and Mrs. Manley;" "The Harmony of Things: An Essay on Man and Moral Essays;" "Science and Nature: The Spectator; Gulliver's Travels and The Seasons;" "Country and City, the Choice of Life: Dr. Johnson." Although this collection of essays is rather traditional in its choices, and its reading of each writer rather intrinsic in perspective and celebratory in tone, each essay does offer a useful introduction for the undergraduates seeking to understand how very different eighteenth century thought and practices are from our modern ones.
New Editions
A glance at the Books Received list appended to this review will reveal that there are many new editions of books by women writers currently undergoing full or partial canonization. These include Aphra Behn (2 volumes), Margaret Cavendish, Mary Davys, Elizabeth Hamilton, Eliza Haywood (4 volumes), Mary Robinson, and Charlotte Smith. Of these books, most noteworthy is the splendid Belford Cultural edition of Aphra Behn's Oroonoko: the Royal Slave prepared by Catherine Gallagher with Simon Stern. This edition of Aphra Behn's hyper-canonical novel is a huge step forward for Behn studies and all those many scholars who teach Oroonoko in the classroom. This edition includes generous background information and a range of important texts that move Behn's work beyond the sentimental liberal sympathy with the slave this novel, through its dramatic adaptation by Thomas Southerne, helped to invent. Such an editing of Oroonoko enrichens the novel by weaving it into the contexts that give it a historically specific range of meanings. Professor Gallagher includes an authoritative introduction, a chronology of Behn and her times, selections from Thomas Southerne's Oroonoko, a Tragedy, a sample of literary contexts from Behn to Defoe; maps, images, and documents about West Africa, the Caribbean, and Britain in relation to the powerful economic phenomenon that makes Behn's novel possible: the triangular trade. Some will choose for course adoption a shorter text; however, this edition should become required reading for anyone who teaches Oronooko.
Finally, three authoritative scholarly editions round out my survey of eighteenth century books. First, Harold Love's edition, The Works of John Wilmont, Earl of Rochester, has the classic heft, design, typography, comprehensiveness in scope, and full critical apparatus one expects in an Oxford University Press edition of a canonical English poet. This edition includes "writings for the theatre", "lost works," "disputed works," and "Appendix Roffensis." The critical apparatus includes "lists of sources," "explanatory notes," a "textual introduction," and "transmissional histories." Of course, given the bawdy tendency of Rochester's poetry the content of this book will produce an involuntary satire upon the cultural authority projected by this edition's grand form. For example, an occasional poem on the rivalry of Nell Bwyn, the Duchess of Portsmouth, and the duchesse de Mazarin, begins with these lines: "Nell: When to the King I bid good Morrow,/ With Tongue in Mouth, and a Hand on Tarse,/ Portsmouth may rend her Cunt for Sorrow,/ And Mazarine may kisse myne Arse (p. 91)." The notes that explain this rich embroglio of lovers, monarch, male rivals, and political intrigue are so richly detailed, and touch upon topics of so much erotic piquancy, that they often read like scholarly miniatures of seventeenth century novellas. Secondly, Bruce Redford has done a masterful job editing, with the help of Elizabeth Goldring, the second volume (1766-1776) of James Boswell's Life of Johnson.
Finally, David Woolley is the editor of The Correspondence of Jonathan Swift, D.D. in the first to be published of four planned volumes. The 300 letters of this first of four planned volumes includes letters written by Swift, as well as those who write to or about Swift. This volume begins with a 1690 letter from Sir William Temple's to Sir Robert Southwell, recommending Swift for a job and ends with Alexander Pope's letter to John Arbuthnot describing a visit to Swift in 1714. This early period of Swift's life is rich in letters written while Swift was deeply involved in public affairs, most especially the negotiations leading up to the Treaty of Utrecht. The edition of Swift's correspondence is a magisterial enterprise, with a full "Register of Letters", numbering the full 1508 to be published. These letters also help to reaffirm Swift's claim to be the writer of the purest English prose in this (or any period). I close this review with a sentence from a witty letter offering thanks to the Duchess of Ormonde, wife of the Duke of Ormonde, commander of the British troops in Flanders, for her sending a portrait of herself to Swift. "For my own part, I begin already to repent that I ever begged your Grace's picture; and could almost find in my heart to sent it back: For, although it be the most beautiful sight I ever beheld, except the original, yet the veneration and respect it fills me with, will always make me think I am in your Grace's presence; will hinder me from saying and writing twenty idle things, that used to divert me; will set me labouring upon majestic, sublime ideas, at which I have no manner of talent; and will make those who come to visit me think I am grown, on the sudden, wonderful stately and reserved.(Letter 184: p. 458)" In this period, even the greatest satirist could be courtly and charming.

Author's background:
William B. Warner,
Professor of English UC/ Santa Barbara
Director, the Digital Cultures Project
Reading Clarissa: the Struggles of Interpretation New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979. Chance and the Text of Experience: Nietzsche, Freud, and Shakespeare's "Hamlet". Ithaca:      Cornell University Press, 1986.
Licensing Entertainment: the Elevation of Novel Reading in Britain, 1684-1750. Berkeley:      University of California Press, 1998.


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