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The Poetics of Spice


  • 17 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 300 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.61 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 820.9/355
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: PR408.S665 M67 2000
  • LC Subject headings:
    • English literature--History and criticism
    • Spice trade in literature
    • Capitalism and literature--Great Britain--History
    • English literature--Asian influences
    • Consumption (Economics) in literature

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521771467 | ISBN-10: 0521771463)

DOI: 10.2277/0521771463

  • Also available in Paperback
  • Published September 2000

Manufactured on demand: supplied direct from the printer

 (Stock level updated: 09:41 GMT, 30 November 2015)


This 2000 book considers the literary and cultural significance of spice, and the spice trade, in Romantic literature, shedding new light on the impact of consumerism and capitalist ideology on writers of the period. Timothy Morton demonstrates how the emerging consumer culture was characterized by an ornate, figuratively rich mode of representation which he describes as 'the poetics of spice'. This is the focal point for a probing analysis that addresses a host of related themes - exoticism, orientalism, colonialism, the slave trade, race and gender issues, and, above all, capitalism. Employing a mixture of Marxist, deconstructive and psychoanalytic theory, Morton explores how capitalist ideology was inscribed in the very materials of consumption. The book takes a wide historical perspective, surveying a range of literary, political, medical, travel, trade and philosophical texts, and includes readings of Milton, Coleridge, Keats, Shelley, Leigh Hunt, Charlotte Smith and Southey among many others.

• Innovative, unusual theme - the literary and cultural significance of spice in Romantic literature • Addresses highly topical issues - commodities and consumption, slavery, imperialism, gender, exoticism, capitalism • Wide-ranging exploration of literary, political, medical, travel, trade and philosophical texts • New readings of Keats, Shelley, Charlotte Smith, Southey and many others


Acknowledgements; Introduction; 1. The confection of spice: historical and theoretical considerations; 2. Trade winds; 3. Place settings; 4. Blood sugar; 5. Sound and scents: further investigations of space; Notes; Bibliography; Index.


'Only one word describes Timothy Morton's The Poetics of Spice: Spicy. Like an exotic dish this book is both enticing and overwhelming.' BARS Bulletin

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