A pioneering assessment of the history of the English novel, Stephen Ahern's new study Affected Sensibilities reconsiders the role played by the early novel in the shift that occurred as England moved from a culture of libertinism during the Restoration and its aftermath, to a culture of sentimentalism from the mid-eighteenth century through the beginnings of Romanticism. In a perceptive series of essays on prose narratives, Ahern develops the provocative thesis that the amatory, sentimental, and Gothic fictional forms that dominate the marketplace in the early years of the novel are deeply connected by a concern with sensibility, a capacity for living intensely that is largely determined by class and gender. Countering the standard account of sensibility's history, Ahern shows that the concept first appeared in the amatory tales and novels of the later seventeenth century and then outlines significant continuities among the amatory, the sentimental, and the Gothic as fictional genres and as broader cultural modes. Ahern's extensive, careful, and original analyses combining studies of romance with studies of sensibility bring valuable new insights to a growing field of study.
With a wide range of reference and a broad chronological scope, including chapters on Aphra Behn, Eliza Haywood, Laurence Sterne, Henry Mackenzie, Ann Radcliffe, Matthew Lewis, and Jane Austen, Affected Sensibilities contributes to our understanding of the early novel and the cultural history of sensibility in a compelling discussion that will interest students and scholars alike.
C O N T E N T S
Part I: Amatory Fiction
Part II: Sentimental Fiction
Part III: Gothic Fiction
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Affected sensibilities : romantic excess and the genealogy of the novel, 1680–1810 / Stephen Ahern.
p. cm. — (AMS studies in the eighteenth century ; no. 49)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
1. English fiction—18th century—History and criticism.
2. Sentimentalism in literature.
3. Romanticism—Great Britain—History—18th century.
4. Love stories, English—History and criticism.
5. Gothic revival (Literature)—Great Britain.
6. Authorship—Sex differences.
7. Sex role in literature.
PR858.S45 A36 2006