Systems failure : the uses of disorder in English literature /
Andrew Franta.
Baltimore, Maryland : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019.
x, 215 pages ; 24 cm
1421427516, 1421427524, 9781421427515, 9781421427522
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Baltimore, Maryland : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019.
contents note
Introduction: Unconscionable maps -- Life without theory in the Life of Savage -- Sterne and the uses of disorder -- From map to network in Humphry Clinker -- Godwin's handshake -- Jane Austen and the morphology of the marriage plot -- De Quincey's systems.
"Systems Failure is the first book to consider English fiction of the long eighteenth century as a sweeping critique of Enlightenment system-building. It examines literary responses to various schemes of social organization, from Johnson's tracking of urban encounters in the Life of Savage and Sterne's anatomization of interpersonal relationships in A Sentimental Journey to Austen's marriage plots and De Quincey's essays on the circulation of the mail and the contemplation of the cosmos. Franta is interested in how writers take up civil and cultural institutions designed to rationalize society (cities, maps, transportation and postal systems, commercial society and the market economy, courtship and marriage, sentimental exchanges, political parties) only to complicate them, stretching their organizational and explanatory resources until they unravel. In this unraveling, literature arrives at its most penetrating insights about the structure of social life. Narrative becomes a tool for critique and a form in which aspects of the social world that elude systematic representation can be figured; these texts thus compose a tradition that runs alongside but contests our received ideas about the rise of the novel. If the main line of the novel depicts the individual's place in society, these authors explore the constitution of the social realm in which individuals are imagined to take their places. Systems Failure argues that this tradition develops an unfamiliar account of literature's contribution to the study of social order, disorder, and change in the long eighteenth century--one that has less to do with the novelistic representation of social reality than the literary analysis of the idea that society has a structure."--
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Includes bibliographical references and index.

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