[Milton-L] Eighteenth Century Fiction Online - Form and Formalism in the British Eighteenth-Century Novel

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Eighteenth-Century Fiction 

Volume 24, Number 2 Winter 2012 



Form and Formalism in the British Eighteenth-Century Novel 

Guest Editor - John Richetti


This issue contains: 


 <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/gg42123217239205/> Formalism and
Eighteenth-Century English Fiction

John Richetti


DOI:  <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/gg42123217239205/>


 <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/q53760176r23h206/> Counting,
Resonance, and Form, A Speculative Manifesto (with Notes)

David A. Brewer


The recent quantitative turn in literary studies has reminded us of the
breadth and variety of the literary field of the past. In so doing, however,
it has necessarily levelled out the felt distinctions between various texts,
and so risks working against the very sort of literary history that its new
vistas promise: one which does justice to the workings of form across time
and space. In particular, the presumptive interchangeability of texts that
is required to put them into a series susceptible to quantitative analysis
ignores the massively different footprint left by commercially successful
(and socially canonical) texts as we move beyond their moment of initial
publication. Evelina, for example, may have been just another novel of 1778
when it first appeared, but it loomed far above all other productions of
that year a decade later (or anywhere beyond the metropole). Such
footprints, I argue, changed the significance of their texts' form, making
it seem richer, thicker, more resonant or definitive-perhaps, for some, more
stifling or oppressive-than that of their apparently similar but less
successful counterparts.


DOI:  <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/q53760176r23h206/>


 <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/h81q742p421417w7/> Anna Barbauld
on Fictional Form in The British Novelists (1810)

Anne Toner


Anna Barbauld has been recognized as advancing the critical study of the
novel in her edition of The British Novelists. This article considers
closely the attention Barbauld pays to novelistic form in the preface and
critical essays in that work. She prioritizes carefully-conceived plot above
aspirations to realism and to moral didacticism, and places considerable
emphasis on narrative closure. This attention to closure is examined in
light of both contemporary and later critical debate on the importance and
value of novelistic ending. There is some irony in Barbauld's disparagement
of disrupted narrative forms considering her reputation as the author of the
Gothic fragment "Sir Bertrand." While this was firmly attributed to her
brother John in the 1820s, there is some correlation between the expository
essay to "Sir Bertrand" and Barbauld's later writing on Gothic works in The
British Novelists. In both "Objects of Terror" and in The British Novelists
more generally there is an interest in the construction of readerly
curiosity and the power exerted over the reader by a work's end.


DOI:  <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/h81q742p421417w7/>


 <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/2553110w43745g3n/> Secondary
Qualities and Masculine Form in Clarissa and Sir Charles Grandison

Helen Thompson


This article aligns the formal strategies of the eighteenth-century novelist
Samuel Richardson with eighteenth-century empirical science. In his
mechanical or corpuscular philosophy, the chemist Robert Boyle theorizes the
difference between imperceptible particulate materiality and perceptible
attributes like colour, later renamed by John Locke the difference between
primary and secondary qualities. Primary-secondary difference structures
Richardson's formal approach to the problem of masculine desirability as it
is broached in his second novel Clarissa and imaginatively resolved in his
third novel Sir Charles Grandison. While Lovelace, the protagonist of
Clarissa, adheres to an empiricist model of objecthood and its apprehension,
Sir Charles Grandison cannot be resolved into primary and secondary
qualities, offering a collapse of primary-secondary difference that
transforms masculine virtue into immediately perceptible appearance. This
article argues that Richardson's engagement with empirical philosophy
reflects the importance of the discourse of secondary qualities to the
formal development of the eighteenth-century novel.


DOI:  <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/2553110w43745g3n/>


 <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/90417470k2476262/> "Seeing
something that was doing in the World": The Form of History in Colonel Jack

Ruth Mack


Form plays a crucial role in establishing a relationship between history and
individual consciousness in Daniel Defoe's Colonel Jack (1722). Jack's
fictional world is structured by major historical events: from the War of
the League of Augsburg in 1697 to the battle of Preston in 1715. Although
Jack signals his desire to participate in these events-and to participate in
them as history-he does not do so in any simple way, missing one battle
entirely and failing to fight in another. This strange partial action is
part of Defoe's larger engagement with a question both philosophical and
historiographical: how the individual's experience is related to public
history. The chronological structure of historical events in Colonel Jack
shows history's traditional form, but only in order to demonstrate that the
individual's story is never fully pulled into what we might consider
history's plot. Form marks off history as related to, but also as distinct
from, Jack's experience.


DOI:  <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/90417470k2476262/>


 <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/h2161p1778x7475t/> Episodic or
Novelistic? Law in the Atlantic and the Form of Daniel Defoe's Colonel Jack

Gabriel Cervantes


Like other fictions by Daniel Defoe, The History and Remarkable Life of the
Truly Honourable Col. Jacque, Commonly Call'd Col. Jack, draws together
various literary genres. Until recently, this heterogeneity has been studied
through a mode of ideological critique that privileges novelistic coherence,
and Colonel Jack has long been dismissed as an ideological and aesthetic
failure. Taking a different approach, this article examines how Defoe's
ostensibly broken novel uses a mixture of genres and analogous rather than
progressive plot lines to capture and resolve a contemporary problem: the
stretching of British legal authority from internal struggles (with
criminals, slaves, and Jacobites) to the permeable interimperial boundaries
of the Atlantic. Historicized in the development of the illicit trade
between Britain and Spanish America, Colonel Jack's famously problematic
conclusion-a remorseless smuggler's adventure-does not offer a negative
example for mercantile morality, but rather serves to theorize a legal
regime based on negotiation.


DOI:  <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/h2161p1778x7475t/>


 <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/1076717524r28v10/> Devotional
Reading and Novel Form: The Case of David Simple

Tera Pettella


Although the novel as a form gained popularity throughout the eighteenth
century, devotional texts such as the Bible, printed sermons, and books of
practical divinity, including The Whole Duty of Man, continued to dominate
the print market. These devotional texts establish and foster discontinuous,
repetitive, and emblematic reading practices. The form of devotional texts
and religious reading practices is essential to a more satisfying
description of the formal development of the novel, most notably episodic,
sentimental novels like Sarah Fielding's The Adventures of David Simple. The
complex relationship between devotional and secular texts involved authors
borrowing and adapting forms from devotional texts, while readers adapted
their own devotional reading practices to secular texts. The force and
visibility of the novel in the eighteenth century resulted more from the
novel form's familiarity than its novelty.


DOI:  <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/1076717524r28v10/>


 <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/b524p6vg63273t20/> The
Architectural Design of Beckford's Vathek

Sandro Jung


In this article, I interrogate the textual form and discuss the central
importance and meaning of the architectural design of William Beckford's
Vathek, and I trace the formal features of architecture that inform the
novel. Rather than contextualizing the novel in terms of biography, reading
it as inscribed with Beckford's personality, or offering an exploration of
the characters' psychological makeup, I focus on Beckford's narrative and
his ability to construct a polygeneric tale of Gothic didacticism. Despite
writing Vathek in 1782, at the age of twenty-one, and retailing a myth of
its spontaneous composition, Beckford crafted a text that reveals a highly
finished architectural design and skilful inversion of the conventions of


DOI:  <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/b524p6vg63273t20/>


 <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/b344t71u00626506/> "Nothing
Really in It": Gothic Interiors and the Externals of the Courtship Plot in
Northanger Abbey

Laura Baudot


The washing bills that the heroine discovers in a cabinet in Jane Austen's
early novel Northanger Abbey are traditionally read as parodying the Gothic
trope of hidden manuscripts. The mundane itemization of male clothing, I
argue, does not merely pit the everyday against Gothic improbability. The
washing bill plot invites readers to reflect critically on courtship plots
and their own emotional investment in happy endings. By drawing attention to
the papers' appearance, content, and location, Austen uses the washing bills
as evidence for how courtship novels and readers' affective expectations
repress the material facts central to both marriage and novel reading: men
and books have bodies. The complex interplay of surface and depth that
characterizes the washing bill plot is central to Austen's quest to devise a
form for the novel that engages the reader both critically and emotionally.
By linking the washing bills to the novel's other jarring reminders of the
materiality of books and reading, this article makes the broader claim that
a full understanding of the form of eighteenth-century novels requires
combining the methods of formalism and book history.


DOI:  <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/b344t71u00626506/>


 <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/lw4334r0l6p446n4/> Remembering
Nature: Soliloquy as Aesthetic Form in Mansfield Park

Lorraine Clark


In Mansfield Park, Jane Austen allegorizes her understanding of the novel of
manners as a form of cerebral theatre that stages philosophical dialogues,
centrally the quarrel between the ancients and the moderns. Is nature a
tabula rasa, at best unintelligibly moral, or is it informed by an
indwelling telos, an intelligibility? Modernity divorces ethics from
aesthetics, virtue from pleasure, the pulpit from the theatre, because we
have forgotten nature's inherent telos, intelligibility, or mind. Fanny
Price's soliloquizing, like Shaftesbury's, actualizes not a static ideal
form that invites aesthetic contemplation but an empirical praxis which
attempts, like her rehearsals with the mindless Mr Rushworth, to restore the
mind, the brain, the memory that our modern understandings of nature have
denied. Austen's philosophic dialogue ideally bridges ancient and modern and
transforms private, self-educating acts of solitary reading pleasure into
acts of public conversation that can be profoundly improving of public
manners and mores.


DOI:  <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/lw4334r0l6p446n4/>


Reviews/Comptes Rendus


DOI:  <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/c7l51n1r28811434/>




Eighteenth Century Fiction publishes articles in both English and French on
all aspects of imaginative prose in the period 1700-1800, but will also
examine papers on late 17th-century or early 19th-century fiction,
particularly when the works are discussed in connection with the eighteenth


Submissions to Eighteenth Century Fiction

The editors invite contributions on all aspects of imaginative prose in the
period 1700-1800, but are also happy to consider papers on late
seventeenth-century or early nineteenth-century fiction. The languages of
publication are English and French. Articles about the fiction of other
languages are welcomed and comparative studies are particularly encouraged.
The suggested length for manuscripts is 6,000-8,000 words, but longer and
shorter articles have been published in the journal.


The Chicago Manual of Style is used for most points in ECF. Articles
submitted should be double-spaced, including quotations. Email submissions
are encouraged  <mailto:%20ecf at mcmaster.ca> ecf at mcmaster.ca. As ECF
evaluates manuscripts anonymously, the author's name ought not to appear on
the article itself.


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