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


Part of Cambridge Studies in Romanticism

  • Author: Paul Keen, Carleton University, Ottawa
  • Date Published: January 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107479661

£ 20.99

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About the Authors
  • 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.

    • Offers a new account of the impact of commercial modernity on late eighteenth-century literature
    • Introduces a range of previously unexplored or infrequently explored periodical writing
    • Situates present day debates about the impact of the digital revolution within a much longer historical perspective
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Keen's book is the product of a deep reading of the archive of the past, with impressive results.' David Simpson, 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, 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, British Society for Literature and Science Reviews

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107479661
    • length: 270 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.37kg
    • contains: 8 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The ocean of ink: a long introduction
    2. Balloonomania: the pursuit of knowledge and the culture of the spectacle
    3. Bibliomania: the rage for books and the spectacle of culture
    4. Foolish knowledge: the little world of microcosmopolitan literature
    5. Uncommon animals: literary professionalism in the age of authors
    6. The learned pig: enlightening the reading public
    7. Afterword: a swinish multitude: the tyranny of fashion in the 1790s
    8. Works cited.

  • Author

    Paul Keen, Carleton University, Ottawa
    Paul Keen is Professor of English at Carleton University.

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