Impotent fathers : patriarchy and demographic crisis in the eighteenth-century novel /
Brian McCrea.
Newark : University of Delaware Press ; London :Associated University Press, c1998.
242 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
0874136563 (alk. paper)
More Details
Newark : University of Delaware Press ; London :Associated University Press, c1998.
0874136563 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. 227-236) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1998-11:
McCrea (Univ. of Florida) traces the impact of England's demographic crisis from 1650 to 1740 through a variety of 18th-century novels. The social crisis concerns the failure of landed patriarchs to produce sons and their subsequent machinations to preserve heirs. The author discloses how the double plot of Milton's Paradise Lost serves as model for the 18th-century novelist. The anamnestic plot (God's design) makes possible Smollett's satiric and convoluted texts; the mimetic plot (the complex human story beginning with Adam) enables Henry Fielding's great romances Tom Jones and Joseph Andrews. McCrea challenges the prevailing wisdom of feminist critics by emphasizing the impairment of patriarchal authority. In his excellent chapter on Defoe, he observes that "in the very unresolvability of Roxana's life history, the eighteenth century novel finds its central action and great theme." Likewise, the author shows Defoe's own failure to convert money into status. The book's narrow focus makes for slow reading; this is a volume for graduate students, researchers, and faculty, not undergraduates. D. Seelow; SUNY College at Old Westbury
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Choice, November 1998
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Unpaid Annotation
This book is the first major study to apply recent research on population history to issues of partite, property, and gender in the early English novel. Impotent Fathers argues that the absence of patriarchal power shapes the lives of characters otherwise as different as Joseph Andrews, Roderick Random, and Clarissa Harlow. In novels by Fielding and Burney, Smollett and Inchbald, Defoe and Lennox alike, the patriarch is an impaired, frequently absent figure-one whose power must be represented, as it is in seventeenth-century legal writing, by a woman.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. 9
The Frontispiecep. 11
Introduction: The Orphan Heiress: Demography, Law, and Patriarchy in the Eighteenth-Century Novelp. 15
The "Quest for the Proper Name": Don Quixote and the Madness of "Fictive Kin"p. 32
Milton's Two Versions of the Patriarch: Mimetic and Anamnestic Plotsp. 53
Dorotea's Daughters: Moll Flanders, Roxana, and the Perils of Fictive Kinshipp. 70
Night Moves: Henry Fielding and the Birth-Mystery Plot Under Stressp. 88
Roderick Random's "Agreeable Lassitude" and Smollett's Anamnestic Fictionp. 103
Clarissa's Pregnancy and the Fate of Patriarchal Powerp. 120
Demographic Crisis and Simple Stories: Burney, Inchbald, Lennox, and the Nature of Incestp. 141
Conclusion: From the Birth Mystery to the Family Romance: Peter Brooks, Fathers, and the Motives for Fictionsp. 185
Notesp. 195
Bibliographyp. 227
Indexp. 237
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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