The self and it: novel objects in eighteenth-century England by Julie Park

By Julie Park

Gadgets we frequently regard as "mere" imitations of the human—dolls, automata, puppets—proliferated in eighteenth-century England's quickly increasing marketplace tradition. through the comparable interval, there arose a literary style referred to as "the novel" that grew to become the event of existence right into a narrated item of mental plausibility. Park makes a daring intervention in histories of the increase of the unconventional through arguing that the cloth gadgets abounding in eighteenth-century England's customer markets labored together with the unconventional, itself a commodity fetish, as very important instruments for fashioning the trendy self. because it constructs a background for the psychology of gadgets, The Self and It revises a narrative that others have seen as originating later: in an age of Enlightenment, issues have the facility to maneuver, impact people's lives, and so much of all, let a fictional style of selfhood. The e-book demonstrates simply how a lot the trendy psyche—and its exciting projections of "artificial life"—derive from the formation of the early novel, and the reciprocal task among made issues and invented identities that underlie it.

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Chapter 4 shows how the perpetual motion of female wishing and its nonreproductive effects contrast with the wonder that automata produced in eighteenth-century pleasure seekers. The growing absorption in what it means to be a machine produced a mechanics of affect. Burney indicates the cultural evolution of the automaton in the eighteenth century when, in her first novel Evelina (1778), venues such as Cox’s Mechanical Museum featured as stopping points in the heroine’s fashionable London excursions.

Chapter 2 examines the relationship between eighteenth-century affect and object relations by considering the story of sexual fetishism in Richardson’s Clarissa (1747–1748) as a symptom of both libertine and novelistic ambitions. By obsessively acquiring objects and evidence of “true” feminine presence, both Richardson and the libertine character he invents register the fear of absence that threatens cultural and individual investments in surfaces and other material artifacts of being. This secret thread of fetishism running throughout Richardson’s moralistic novel intersects with the eighteenth-century model of sensibility as a social presentation of emotions.

16 In so doing, he remains emphatic about how only the “Oriental” temperament could have given birth to such an imaginative and innovative genre, though he concludes his essay by attributing the retrieval of romance from “barbarity” to the French. 17 Huet, in expanding the frame of reference for examples closer to his own time and space such as the works of Madame de Scudéry, Cervantes, and Honoré d’Urfé, reroots the genre in the Orient and in so doing, resorts to pseudoanthropological generalizations.

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