The Politics of Sensibility: Race, Gender and Commerce in the Sentimental Novel (Cambridge Studies in Romanticism)

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9780521552219: The Politics of Sensibility: Race, Gender and Commerce in the Sentimental Novel (Cambridge Studies in Romanticism)

The sentimental novel has long been noted for its liberal and humanitarian interests. In The Politics of Sensibility Markman Ellis argues that sentimental fiction also consciously participated in specific political controversies of the late eighteenth century, including emerging arguments about the ethics of slavery, the morality of commerce, and the movement to reform prostitutes. He shows that sentimental fiction was a public as well as a private genre, and that the very form of the novel was recognized as a political tool of cultural significance.

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The sentimental novel has long been noted for its liberal and humanitarian interests, but also for its predilection for refined feeling, the privilege it accords emotion over reason, and its preference for the private over the public sphere. In The Politics of Sensibility, however, Markman Ellis argues that sentimental fiction also consciously participated in some of the most keenly contested public controversies of the late eighteenth century, including the emergence of anti-slavery opinion, discourse on the morality of commerce, and the movement for the reformation of prostitutes. By investigating the significance of political material in the fictional text, and by exploring the way in which the novels themselves take part in historical disputes, Ellis shows that the sentimental novel was a political tool of considerable cultural significance.

Review:

"This very learned study usefully analyzes the place of sentimentality in the literature and politics of late-18th- and early-19th-century England....A valuable addition to the literary history of sensibility." Choice

"The Politics of Sensibility is successful within its scope....Ellis provides a practical book which will be useful to anyone working on the politics of the early novel." Jack Lynch, Novel

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