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Literature, Commerce, and the Spectacle of Modernity, 1750–1800
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Book description

Paul Keen explores how a consumer revolution which reached its peak in the second half of the eighteenth century shaped debates about the role of literature in a polite modern nation, and tells the story of the resourcefulness with which many writers responded to these pressures. From dream reveries which mocked their own entrepreneurial commitments, such as Oliver Goldsmith's account of selling his work at a 'Fashion Fair' on the frozen Thames, to the Microcosm's mock plan to establish 'a licensed warehouse for wit', writers insistently tied their literary achievements to a sophisticated understanding of the uncertain complexities of a modern transactional society. This book combines a new understanding of late eighteenth-century literature with the materialist and sociological imperatives of book history and theoretically inflected approaches to cultural history.

Reviews

'Keen’s book is the product of a deep reading of the archive of the past, with impressive results.'

David Simpson Source: European Romantic Review

‘… an important and substantial book that uncovers new depths and novel materials that will continue to reshape prevailing accounts of literature, knowledge, authorship, and reading in the fields of eighteenth-century and Romantic studies.’

Timothy Campbell Source: Modern Philology

'It is impossible to do justice to the breadth of reference in this book … Every page has an entertaining and pertinent story, and every story makes one want to return to the primary sources. There is also a detailed bibliography for those who wish to pursue differing element of his debate.'

Anna Brunton Source: British Society for Literature and Science Reviews

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Contents

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