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

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2012-03-19
  • Publisher: Cambridge Univ Pr
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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 transnational 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.

Table of Contents

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