By M. O. Grenby

ISBN-10: 0511018320

ISBN-13: 9780511018329

ISBN-10: 0521803519

ISBN-13: 9780521803519

The French Revolution sparked an ideological debate that introduced Britain to the edge of its personal revolution within the 1790s. As radicals became to the writing of "Jacobin" fiction, the terror of uprising caused conservatives to write down novels. this is often the 1st publication to ascertain the level and diversity of Anti-Jacobin fiction. in addition to picking out an unparalleled variety of those novels and contemplating what they include, M.O. Grenby investigates why they have been written, in particular through ladies, and why they proved to be so well known.

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The novel, in other words, was impeached principally because it putatively encouraged readers to disregard customary practices and values. Crucially, the new philosophy of French and British Jacobins was, according to both its own proponents’ definitions and those dispensed by its antagonists, a system which likewise deliberately clashed with established usages. It can be no surprise then that attacks on new philosophy followed the pattern of attacks on novels. Directly out of the traditional concern about novels’ effect on na¨ıve readers and about their fabrication of a chimerical, parallel system of values, a more overtly political concern about the chimerical delusions of the new philosophers evolved in the  s.

This was exactly the same method employed by Burke, Sayer’s stated model, who had furnished his Reflections with fictionalised illustrations.  Ultimately, it was Sayer’s method of representation that was to win out over the sort of event-based understanding and depiction of the Revolution that Smith purported to present. Sayer’s representations, though, Representing revolution  were severely limited by his willingness to admit that he was openly writing fiction with a purpose, that the novel he was producing was essentially propaganda.

Nowhere is this made clearer than in Modern Literature, the hero of which, William Hamilton, reads the philosophical treatise of one ‘St Leon’ – that is to say Godwin’s Political Justice – and, being an educated and sensible man, immediately spots its many errors. The danger only arises when a narrative – Caleb Williams – appears in its support: Subtle sophistry alone could hardly establish the inutility of criminal justice, but an affecting fable, setting forth the punishment of innocence and escape of guilt, strongly interests the feelings; and the emotions of the heart are mistaken for the conclusions of the head.

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Anti jacobean novel by M. O. Grenby


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