Catalogue


Wild enlightenment : the borders of human identity in the eighteenth century /
Richard Nash.
imprint
Charlottesville : University of Virginia Press, 2003.
description
x, 216 p. : ill.
ISBN
0813921651 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Charlottesville : University of Virginia Press, 2003.
isbn
0813921651 (cloth : alk. paper)
general note
"Winner of the Walker Cowen Memorial Prize."
catalogue key
4848415
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Richard Nash is Associate Professor of English at Indiana University.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2003-12-01:
Nash (Indiana Univ.) has written an informative and accessible study of the figure of the "wild man" in 18th-century Britain. Nash's implied subject is the rational and social citizen of the European Enlightenment, but he approaches him by comparison and contrast with those who are solitary instead of social, passionate instead of rational. The cast of the Enlightenment's "others" or "alter egos" therefore includes castaways, feral children, and near-human animals, all of whom live on the border of enlightened subjectivity. Nash considers real-life cases like Peter the Wild Boy and Victor of Aveyron alongside fictional characters like Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Swift's Yahoos, and Mary Shelley's Creature; he examines them against the theories of Carl Linnaeus, Lord Monboddo, the Comte du Buffon, Johann Blumenbach, and others. Nash owes much to Jurgen Habermas, Donna Haraway, and Bruno Latour, but he also shows himself proficient at more traditional literary studies. The book neatly complements Julia Douthwaite's Wild Girl, Natural Man, and the Monster: Dangerous Experiments in the Age of Enlightenment (CH, Jan'03). ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. J. T. Lynch Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark
Reviews
Review Quotes
Wild Enlightenment is a stimulating and insightful work that opens up new avenues of understanding into the eighteenth century. While other authors have treated the general topic of the Enlightenment 'savage,' Nash provides a provocative, capacious, and original framework for understanding the importance of this phenomenon.
"Wild Enlightenment is a stimulating and insightful work that opens up new avenues of understanding into the eighteenth century. While other authors have treated the general topic of the Enlightenment 'savage,' Nash provides a provocative, capacious, and original framework for understanding the importance of this phenomenon." -- Rosemarie Zagarri, George Mason University
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, December 2003
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Unpaid Annotation
Wild Enlightenment charts the travels of the figure of the wild man, in each of his guises, through the invented domain of the bourgeois public sphere. We follow him through the discursive networks of novels, broad-sheets, pamphlets, and advertisements and through their material locations at fair booths, the Royal Society, Court, and Parliament. He leads us on in various disguises: as Tyson's Orang-Outang, Swift's Yahoos, and Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. Yet Richard Nash is not primarily telling a story of the English gentleman abroad in the realm of the wild man; instead Nash explores the wild man abroad in the realm of the English gentleman. His is the tale of the wild man as complex alter ego to the idealized abstraction of "the citizen of the Enlightenment."Nash eloquently argues that following the movements of the wild man through the public sphere helps illuminate the process by which an abstract figure comes to constitute human nature. He contends that expressions such as wild man and noblesavage operated as much more than metaphors: if anything, the trajectory was not one of a metaphor being taken literally but rather of the extant terminology's actually shaping preconceptions by which real beings were observed and recognized by Europeans. Throughout his account, Nash insists on attending to the traffic between literary accounts and real material beings.Shifting perspective from the thematic approach of intellectual history to a more eclectic cultural criticism, Nash introduces a refreshing means to understanding both the figures of the wild man and the citizen of the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century.
Main Description
Wild Enlightenment charts the travels of the figure of the wild man, in each of his guises, through the invented domain of the bourgeois public sphere. We follow him through the discursive networks of novels, broadsheets, pamphlets, and advertisements and through their material locations at fair booths, the Royal Society, Court, and Parliament. He leads us on in various disguises: as Tyson's Orang-Outang, Swift's Yahoos, and Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. Yet Richard Nash is not primarily telling a story of the English gentleman abroad in the realm of the wild man; instead Nash explores the wild man abroad in the realm of the English gentleman. His is the tale of the wild man as complex alter ego to the idealized abstraction of "the citizen of the Enlightenment." Nash eloquently argues that following the movements of the wild man through the public sphere helps illuminate the process by which an abstract figure comes to constitute human nature. He contends that expressions such as wild man and noble savage operated as much more than metaphors: if anything, the trajectory was not one of a metaphor being taken literally but rather of the extant terminology's actually shaping preconceptions by which real beings were observed and recognized by Europeans. Throughout his account, Nash insists on attending to the traffic between literary accounts and real material beings. Shifting perspective from the thematic approach of intellectual history to a more eclectic cultural criticism, Nash introduces a refreshing means to understanding both the figures of the wild man and the citizen of the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century.
Main Description
Wild Enlightenment charts the travels of the figure of the wild man, in each of his guises, through the invented domain of the bourgeois public sphere. We follow him through the discursive networks of novels, broadsheets, pamphlets, and advertisements and through their material locations at fair booths, the Royal Society, Court, and Parliament. He leads us on in various disguises: as Tyson's Orang-Outang, Swift's Yahoos, and Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. Yet Richard Nash is not primarily telling a story of the English gentleman abroad in the realm of the wild man; instead Nash explores the wild man abroad in the realm of the English gentleman. His is the tale of the wild man as complex alter ego to the idealized abstraction of "the citizen of the Enlightenment."Nash eloquently argues that following the movements of the wild man through the public sphere helps illuminate the process by which an abstract figure comes to constitute human nature. He contends that expressions such as wild man and noble savage operated as much more than metaphors: if anything, the trajectory was not one of a metaphor being taken literally but rather of the extant terminology's actually shaping preconceptions by which real beings were observed and recognized by Europeans. Throughout his account, Nash insists on attending to the traffic between literary accounts and real material beings.Shifting perspective from the thematic approach of intellectual history to a more eclectic cultural criticism, Nash introduces a refreshing means to understanding both the figures of the wild man and the citizen of the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century.
Bowker Data Service Summary
This work charts the travels of the figure of the wild man through the invented domain of the bourgeois public sphere. He is followed through the discursive networks of novels, broadsheets, pamphlets and advertisements and through fair booths, the Royal Society and Parliament.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrationsp. viii
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
A Pygmy in Londonp. 15
The Feral Child at Courtp. 42
The Travels of a Wild Youthp. 67
Unimaginable Communitiesp. 103
Walk Scotland and Carry a Big Stickp. 131
The End of Homo Ferusp. 156
Notesp. 189
Works Citedp. 203
Indexp. 211
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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