With editorial contributions by Laura Thomason Wood
Adventure: An Eighteenth-Century Idiom
Essays on the Daring and the Bold
as a Pre-Modern Medium
Kevin L. Cope
AMS Studies in the Eighteenth Century, No. 58
“Kevin L. Cope and Alexander Pettit describe adventure as ‘a central but frequently elusive topic’ in eighteenth-century life and literature—central
because, for a start, this was a time when ‘adventuring had become an art form, a means of exciting aesthetical states of mind, stirring sensibilities, and
eliciting the newly popular sense of sublimity’. This collection of essays makes those connections freshly visible, and has some satisfying artistic moments
of its own.”
—Michael Caines, TLS
As readers of medieval and Renaissance literature know, etymologists associate “adventure” with chance: with that which happens surprisingly—“at” a “venture”—through an unexpected confluence of unpredictable events. Reading the whole history of the word, however, reveals that the long eighteenth century presided over the modernization of the term and its underlying idea. Happenstance fell into the background, while grandeur, risk, and novelty entered the spotlight. One could even plan an adventure, and by the time of Defoe, Catesby, Charlevoix, and Humboldt, adventure was already linked to significant prestige and robust standards: one needed plenty of gusto, at least a little money, a modicum of social standing, and a lot of gumption in order to qualify for a career in risky business.
Full of colorful anecdotes, the adventure idiom prevalent in eighteenth century culture provides abundant material that is interesting in its own right, while also helping scholars of the long eighteenth century to grapple with key issues of the period. To the exploration of the many new possibilities for understanding the early modern zest for adventure the contributors of this volume have dedicated themselves. Essays address the subjective production and reception of adventurous thought in the works of Boswell, Bunyan, Cowper, Richardson, and pastor Edward Young; the embodiment of adventure in the varied generic forms of Defoe, Swift, Falconer, and Hannah Snell, a cross-dressing woman soldier; and the locations and social processes relevant to the adventure idiom, both in the lives of Thomas Gray, Defoe, Boswell, Fielding, Swift, and Lord Orford, and in the contacts between native and colonizing populations.
With approaches that are economic, socio- and literary-historical, genre-based, eco-critical, and biographical in nature, Adventure: An Eighteenth-Century Idiom will appeal to a broad range of scholars and students, from specialists in long-eighteenth-century literature to those interested in the general modernizing influence of the Augustan age.
Allan Ingram, “Boswell’s Big Adventures: London, Scotland, London”
Elisabeth Soubrenie, “Chance, Providence, and Fate: The Spritual Adventures of John Bunyan and William Cowper”
Hélène Dachez, “The Adventure of Sense(s) in Richardson’s Clarissa”
John A. Baker, “Venture and Adventure in Edward Young’s Night Thoughts (1742–1746)”
Gerald J. Butler, “Defoe and the End of Epic Adventure: The Example of Roxana”
Jean Dixsaut, “Adventure in Lilliput: Gulliver the Doomed Fire Fighter”
Victoria Bridges Moussaron, “The Adventure of a ‘Sublime Subject’: The Shipwreck by William Falconer”
Guyonne Leduc, “The Adventure of Cross-Dressing: Hannah Snell (1723–1792), a Woman Soldier”
William Roberts, “Thomas Gray’s Adventures in Scotland and the English Lake District”
Yannick Deschamps, “The Adventures of Daniel Defoe in Scotland (1706–1707): Secret Agent, Propagandist, and Entrepreneur”
Pierre Carboni, “Boswell and the Extraordinary Adventures of Prince Charles Edward Stewart in the Hebrides”
Andrew Varney, “Fielding’s Last Adventure: The Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon”
Norbert Col, “The Moralist’s Adventure: Rewriting History in Gulliver’s Travels”
H. J. K. Jenkins, “A Looking-Glass Adventure: Lord Orford’s Fenland Cruise in 1774”
Habib Ajroud, “The Economy of Adventure in Defoe’s Novels”
James P. Carson, “Interracial Adventures: The Black Caribs of St. Vincent”
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Adventure : an eighteenth-century idiom : essays on the daring and the bold as a pre-modern medium / edited by Serge Soupel, Kevin L. Cope, and Alexander Pettit ; with editorial contributions by Laura Thomason Wood.
p. cm. — (AMS Studies in the eighteenth century ; no. 58)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-404-64858-9 (hardcover : alk. paper)
1. English literature—18th century—History and criticism.
2. Adventure and adventurers in literature.
3. Popular culture—England—History—18th century.
4. England—Intellectual life—18th century.
I. Soupel, Serge. II. Cope, Kevin Lee. III. Pettit, Alexander, 1958- IV. Wood, Laura Thomason.