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Enlightenment Fiction in England, France, and America Donoghue, William

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ISBN 10: 0813024811 / ISBN 13: 9780813024813
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Enlightenment Fiction in England, France, ...

Binding: May 30, 2002

Book Condition:New

About this title

Synopsis:

"A provocative, subtle, and in many ways groundbreaking interpretation of the connection between two major events of the eighteenth century: the rise of the novel and the emergence of skepticism as a dominant school of Enlightenment thought."--Anne Vila, University of Wisconsin, Madison

In Enlightenment Fiction in England, France, and America, a book about why we read novels, William Donoghue looks at the eighteenth century, when the novel as we know it first achieved mass appeal, and examines what various works of fiction of the period tell us about how and why novels matter. 

Donoghue begins with a brief discussion of skepticism, especially in its eighteenth-century manifestation, and then examines its encounter with literary realism in works by Pope, Richardson, Godwin, Laclos, and others.  He reasons that people read novels, today as in the eighteenth century, because these simulations of reality are immune to the kinds of doubt and anxiety that plague us in periods of intense skepticism.  Until now, the novel has been viewed as a symptom of the "epistemological crisis" of the eighteenth century.  Donoghue argues instead that it served as an antidote to that crisis.

Rather than as a reflection or re-presentation of the world, this book treats the novel as a philosophical event.  The works Donoghue examines all stage the collision of skepticism and realist fiction in a variety of ways, and his discussion provides a series of new approaches to some familiar texts: a reading of Pope's Dunciad that places its concerns at the heart of the "rise of the novel," and new readings of Dangerous Liaisons and Caleb Williams.  In addition, he offers fresh insight into Diderot's shifting aesthetics and argues persuasively that the famous "cult of sensibility" in the eighteenth century was the century's purest expression of skepticism. 
 
William Donoghue is assistant professor of literature at Emerson College in Boston.

About the Author:

William Donoghue is assistant professor of literature at Emerson College in Boston and the author of articles on the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and of short fiction in TriQuarterly and other journals.

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