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Literature in History

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Arbitrary Power

Romanticism, Language, Politics

William Keach

This book explores previously unexamined links between the arbitrary as articulated in linguistic theories on the one hand, and in political discourse about power on the other. In particular, Willam Keach shows how Enlightenment conceptions of the arbitrary were contested and extended in British Romantic writing. In doing so, he offers a new paradigm for understanding the recurrent problem of verbal representation in Romantic writing and the disputes over stylistic performance during this period. With clarity and force, Keach reads these phenomena in relation to a rapidly shifting literary marketplace and to the social pressures in Britain generated by the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, and the class antagonisms that culminated in the Peterloo Massacre.

The question of what it means to think of language or politics as arbitrary persists through postmodern thinking, and this book advances an unfinished dialogue between Romantic culture and the critical techniques we currently use to analyze it. Keach's intertwined linguistic and political account of arbitrary power culminates in a detailed textual analysis of the language of revolutionary violence. Including substantial sections on Blake, Wollstonecraft, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, P. B. Shelley, Keats, and Anna Jameson, Arbitrary Power will engage not only students and scholars of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature but also those interested in critical and linguistic theory and in social and political history.

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Bearing the Dead

The British Culture of Mourning from the Enlightenment to Victoria

Esther Schor

Esther Schor tells us about the persistence of the dead, about why they still matter long after we emerge from grief and accept our loss. Mourning as a cultural phenomenon has become opaque to us in the twentieth century, Schor argues. This book is an effort to recover the culture of mourning that thrived in English society from the Enlightenment through the Romantic Age, and to recapture its meaning. Mourning appears here as the social diffusion of grief through sympathy, as a force that constitutes communities and helps us to conceptualize history.

In the textual and social practices of the British Enlightenment and its early nineteenth-century heirs, Schor uncovers the ways in which mourning mediated between received ideas of virtue, both classical and Christian, and a burgeoning, property-based commercial society. The circulation of sympathies maps the means by which both valued things and values themselves are distributed within a culture. Delving into philosophy, politics, economics, and social history as well as literary texts, Schor traces a shift in the British discourse of mourning in the wake of the French Revolution: What begins as a way to effect a moral consensus in society turns into a means of conceiving and bringing forth history.

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Excess and the Mean in Early Modern English Literature

Joshua Scodel

This book examines how English writers from the Elizabethan period to the Restoration transformed and contested the ancient ideal of the virtuous mean. As early modern authors learned at grammar school and university, Aristotle and other classical thinkers praised "golden means" balanced between extremes: courage, for example, as opposed to cowardice or recklessness. By uncovering the enormous variety of English responses to this ethical doctrine, Joshua Scodel revises our understanding of the vital interaction between classical thought and early modern literary culture.

Scodel argues that English authors used the ancient schema of means and extremes in innovative and contentious ways hitherto ignored by scholars. Through close readings of diverse writers and genres, he shows that conflicting representations of means and extremes figured prominently in the emergence of a self-consciously modern English culture. Donne, for example, reshaped the classical mean to promote individual freedom, while Bacon held extremism necessary for human empowerment. Imagining a modern rival to ancient Rome, georgics from Spenser to Cowley exhorted England to embody the mean or lauded extreme paths to national greatness. Drinking poetry from Jonson to Rochester expressed opposing visions of convivial moderation and drunken excess, while erotic writing from Sidney to Dryden and Behn pitted extreme passion against the traditional mean of conjugal moderation. Challenging his predecessors in various genres, Milton celebrated golden means of restrained pleasure and self-respect. Throughout this groundbreaking study, Scodel suggests how early modern treatments of means and extremes resonate in present-day cultural debates.

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The Hero of the Waverley Novels

With New Essays on Scott

Alexander Welsh

One of the most influential works on Sir Walter Scott, The Hero of the Waverley Novels is a model for reconstructing ideas common at a given period in time. In this book Alexander Welsh draws upon the entire canon of Scott's fiction to demonstrate its bearing on property and the behavior prescribed for the propertied classes. Analyzing the "passive hero"--the protagonist who is acted upon by outside forces--he shows how Scott became such a powerful influence for nineteenth-century literature and history. Welsh has updated his book with an essay on history and revolution in Old Mortality, another on repression and the social contract in the novels, and an afterword on the contrast of styles.

Originally published in 1993.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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Milton and the Revolutionary Reader

Sharon Achinstein

The English Revolution was a revolution in reading, with over 22,000 pamphlets exploding from the presses between 1640 and 1661. What this phenomenon meant to the political life of the nation is the subject of Sharon Achinsteins book. Considering a wide range of writers, from John Milton, Thomas Hobbes, John Lilburne, John Cleveland, and William Prynne to a host of anonymous scribblers of every political stripe, Achinstein shows how the unprecedented outpouring of opinion in mid-seventeenth-century England created a new class of activist readers and thus helped to bring about a revolution in the form and content of political debate. By giving particular attention to Miltons participation in this burst of publishing, she challenges critics to look at his literary practices as constitutive of the political culture of his age.

Traditional accounts of the rise of the political subject have emphasized high political theory. Achinstein seeks instead to picture the political subject from the perspective of the street, where the noisy, scrappy, and always entertaining output of pamphleteers may have had a greater impact on political practice than any work of political theory. As she underscores the rhetorical, literary, and even utopian dimension of these writers efforts to politicize their readers, Achinstein offers us evidence of the kind of ideological conflict that historians of the period often overlook. A portrait of early modern propaganda, her work recreates the awakening of politicians to the use of the press to influence public opinion.

Originally published in 1994.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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Rural Scenes and National Representation

Britain, 1815-1850

Elizabeth K. Helsinger

Elizabeth Helsinger's iconoclastic book explores the peculiar power of rural England to stand for conflicting ideas of Britain. Despite the nostalgic appeal of Constable's or Tennyson's rural scenes, they record the severe social and economic disturbances of the turbulent years after Waterloo. Artists and writers like Cobbett, Clare, Turner, Emily Brontë, and George Eliot competed to claim the English countryside as ideological ground. No image of rural life produced consensus over the great questions: who should constitute the nation, and how should they be represented? Helsinger ponders how some images of rural life and land come to serve as national metaphors while others challenge their constructions of Englishness at the heart of the British Empire.

Drawing on recent work in social history, nationalism, and geography, as well as the visual and literary arts, Helsinger recovers other possible and alternative readings of social ties embedded in the imagery of land. She reflects on the power of rural images to transfer local loyalties to the national scene, first popularizing then institutionalizing them. By turning a critical gaze on these scenes, she comments on the difference between art and ideology, and the problems and dangers of asserting any kind of national identity through imagery of the land.

Originally published in 1996.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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Scott's Shadow

The Novel in Romantic Edinburgh

Ian Duncan

Scott's Shadow is the first comprehensive account of the flowering of Scottish fiction between 1802 and 1832, when post-Enlightenment Edinburgh rivaled London as a center for literary and cultural innovation. Ian Duncan shows how Walter Scott became the central figure in these developments, and how he helped redefine the novel as the principal modern genre for the representation of national historical life.

Duncan traces the rise of a cultural nationalist ideology and the ascendancy of Scott's Waverley novels in the years after Waterloo. He argues that the key to Scott's achievement and its unprecedented impact was the actualization of a realist aesthetic of fiction, one that offered a socializing model of the imagination as first theorized by Scottish philosopher and historian David Hume. This aesthetic, Duncan contends, provides a powerful novelistic alternative to the Kantian-Coleridgean account of the imagination that has been taken as normative for British Romanticism since the early twentieth century. Duncan goes on to examine in detail how other Scottish writers inspired by Scott's innovations--James Hogg and John Galt in particular--produced in their own novels and tales rival accounts of regional, national, and imperial history.

Scott's Shadow illuminates a major but neglected episode of British Romanticism as well as a pivotal moment in the history and development of the novel.

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The Spectacle of Intimacy

A Public Life for the Victorian Family

Karen Chase

Love of home life, the intimate moments a family peacefully enjoyed in seclusion, had long been considered a hallmark of English character even before the Victorian era. But the Victorians attached unprecedented importance to domesticity, romanticizing the family in every medium from novels to government reports, to the point where actual families felt anxious and the public developed a fierce appetite for scandal. Here Karen Chase and Michael Levenson explore how intimacy became a spectacle and how this paradox energized Victorian culture between 1835 and 1865. They tell a story of a society continually perfecting the forms of private pleasure and yet forever finding its secrets exposed to view. The friction between the two conditions sparks insightful discussions of authority and sentiment, empire and middle-class politics.

The book recovers neglected episodes of this mid-century drama: the adultery trial of Caroline Norton and the Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne; the Bedchamber Crisis of the young Queen Victoria; the Bloomer craze of the 1850s; and Robert Kerr's influential treatise, celebrating the ideal of the English Gentleman's House. The literary representation of household life--in Dickens, Tennyson, Ellis, and Oliphant, among others--is placed in relation to such public spectacles as the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill of 1848, the controversy over divorce in the years 1854-1857, and the triumphant return of Florence Nightingale from the Crimea. These colorful incidents create a telling new portrait of Victorian family life, one that demands a fundamental rethinking of the relation between public and private spheres.

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Vital Signs

Medical Realism in Nineteenth-Century Fiction

Lawrence Rothfield

Vital Signs offers both a compelling reinterpretation of the nineteenth-century novel and a methodological challenge to literary historians. Rejecting theories that equate realism with representation, Lawrence Rothfield argues that literary history forms a subset of the history of discourses and their attendant practices. He shows how clinical medicine provided Balzac, Flaubert, Eliot, and others with narrative strategies, epistemological assumptions, and models of professional authority. He also traces the linkages between medicine's eventual decline in scientific and social status and realism's displacement by naturalism, detective fiction, and modernism.

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