Catalogue


Common ground : eighteenth-century English satiric fiction and the poor /
Judith Frank.
imprint
Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, 1997.
description
ix, 230 p. ; 23 cm.
ISBN
0804729085 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, 1997.
isbn
0804729085 (alk. paper)
general note
Includes index.
catalogue key
1310772
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 213-222).
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
Work on both the satire and the fiction of the English eighteenth century has tended to focus on the transition from a patrician culture to a culture dominated by the logic of the market. This book shifts the focus from the struggle between aristocratic and bourgeois values to another set of important, yet usually unremarked, class relations: those between the gentle classes and the poor. The author reads four eighteenth-century satiric novelsHenry Fielding's Joseph Andrews, Laurence Sterne's A Sentimental Journey, Tobias Smollett's Humphrey Clinker, and Frances Burney's Cecilia"from below," exploring the ways in which the gentle authors' experiences of the poor shape the novels both thematically and formally. The author argues that in these novels the mental structures of gentlemen and gentlewomen characters are formed through acts of imitation of and identification with the poor. The four novels all concern, in varying degrees of explicitness, the ways the poor were despised and denied politically and socially: the curtailing of popular festivity, the shift from a paternalist to a contractual model of service, the social dislocations caused by enclosure, and the commodification of labor. In the novels' representations of gentle consciousness, the author suggests, the gentry mimic and identify with the socially marginal, their imaginary repertoires formed out of such identification. Claiming that affect is formed in the interrelation of social groups as they react to economic change, this book centers on the conjunction of economic change, novelistic technique, and the constitution of affects. Further, it suggests that satirewhich, during this period, was falling into disrepute under the pressure of contemporary attempts to redefine comedymay be regarded as a generic form that arrests affect, refusing to idealize or cover over the devastating social effects of economic "progress," but at the same time unable to see and say what has been lost. The satiric element in these novels is the moment where anxiety about the gentry's relation to the poorand hence the gentry's very self-definitionis most richly performed and ritualized.
Flap Copy
Work on both the satire and the fiction of the English eighteenth century has tended to focus on the transition from a patrician culture to a culture dominated by the logic of the market. This book shifts the focus from the struggle between aristocratic and bourgeois values to another set of important, yet usually unremarked, class relations: those between the gentle classes and the poor. The author reads four eighteenth-century satiric novels--Henry Fielding's Joseph Andrews, Laurence Sterne's A Sentimental Journey, Tobias Smollett's Humphrey Clinker, and Frances Burney's Cecilia--"from below," exploring the ways in which the gentle authors' experiences of the poor shape the novels both thematically and formally. The author argues that in these novels the mental structures of gentlemen and gentlewomen characters are formed through acts of imitation of and identification with the poor. The four novels all concern, in varying degrees of explicitness, the ways the poor were despised and denied politically and socially: the curtailing of popular festivity, the shift from a paternalist to a contractual model of service, the social dislocations caused by enclosure, and the commodification of labor. In the novels' representations of gentle consciousness, the author suggests, the gentry mimic and identify with the socially marginal, their imaginary repertoires formed out of such identification. Claiming that affect is formed in the interrelation of social groups as they react to economic change, this book centers on the conjunction of economic change, novelistic technique, and the constitution of affects. Further, it suggests that satire--which, during this period, was falling into disrepute under the pressure of contemporary attempts to redefine comedy--may be regarded as a generic form that arrests affect, refusing to idealize or cover over the devastating social effects of economic "progress," but at the same time unable to see and say what has been lost. The satiric element in these novels is the moment where anxiety about the gentry's relation to the poor--and hence the gentry's very self-definition--is most richly performed and ritualized.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1998-04-01:
Frank's readings of four 18th century satiric novels have been influenced by two other works that claim that the presence of the poor informs the literary expression of the dominant classes: Bruce Robbins's The Servant's Hand (1986) and Peter Stallybrass and Allon White's The Politics and Poetics of Transgression (1986) both study the effect of the lower classes on dominant culture. Frank (Amherst College) analyzes the ways the poor were despised and denied on political and social levels over the course of the century. She focuses on literacy in her analysis of Fielding's preface to Joseph Andrews; on charity in Sterne's Sentimental Journey; and on labor and enclosure and the new forms of agrarian social organization in Smollet's Humphry Clinker. Labor and charity are treated as the transformation of female shame and grief in Burney's Cecilia, and Frank further argues that Burney's novel The Wanderer is 18th-century England's most extraordinary novel about labor (a welcome shift from the usual preoccupation with Burney's heroines). Common Ground enlarges understanding of the great satiric works of the 18th century and is strongly recommended for upper-division undergraduates and above. S. Pathak Virginia Commonwealth University
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, April 1998
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Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
Four 18th century satiric novels are studied 'from below', exploring the ways in which the authors' experience of the poor shapes the novel both thematically and formally.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Gentle and Poor on Common Groundp. 1
"What You Seek Is Nowhere": The Comic Novel and Lower-Class Literacyp. 30
"A Man Who Laughs Is Never Dangerous": The Gentleman's Disposition in A Sentimental Journeyp. 63
The Satire of Melancholia: Humphry Clinker and the Agricultural Revolutionp. 90
"This Dream of Fancied Sorrow": Female Affectivity and the Laboring Poor in Frances Burney's Ceciliap. 127
Conclusion: Labor and Satire at the Century's Endp. 165
Notesp. 187
Bibliographyp. 213
Indexp. 223
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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