Children, Parents, and the Rise of the Novel

University of Delaware Press, 1995 - 252 pagina's
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"In Children, Parents, and the Rise of the Novel, T. G. A. Nelson challenges the views of literary critics who contend that the child held little importance as a theme of imaginative literature in the first half of the eighteenth century. Nelson's work follows thirty years of intense discussion of children and childhood by social historians, most of whom see the first half of the eighteenth century as a time of momentous change." "In Restoration comedy, for example, the child is a signifier of unwanted burdens that may fall on the parents: wit and cunning are expended in transferring responsibility for children to convenient dupes. However, in the early novel, in periodical literature, and in other discourses of concern, the comic, dismissive response toward children is increasingly marginalized and subjected to negative criticism, especially when attributed to wealthy or socially distinguished characters. In traditional comedy, rejection of children characterized the carefree rake, who, though satirized at times, was generally projected as an embodiment of the life-force. In the new writing, rejection of children is firmly associated with frigidity, especially among the rich, not with life-giving energy." "Recent writers on the eighteenth-century novel have overstressed elements of covert hostility toward wives and children. This seems partly due to their own ideological rejection of the family and partly to their misunderstanding of the nature of fictional and dramatic narrative. Such narrative is unsuited to figurations of domestic peace and harmony; often it is in situations of domestic discord that the child figure becomes most active and significant in the world of the novel, but this does not mean that the novelists continued to present the child or the family negatively, as earlier dramatists had done. Overall, the child in eighteenth-century fiction is not merely more prominent than has been generally recognized, but is identifiable as a signifier of hope, vigor, spontaneity, and new life."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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