Download How Novels Think: The Limits of Individualism from 1719-1900 by Nancy Armstrong PDF

By Nancy Armstrong

Nancy Armstrong argues that the historical past of the unconventional and the heritage of the trendy person are, relatively actually, one and an analogous. She means that convinced works of fiction created a subject matter, one exhibiting wit, will, or power able to transferring the social order to supply the phenomenal individual a spot commensurate together with his or her person worthy. as soon as the radical had created this determine, readers understood themselves when it comes to a story that produced a self-governing subject.In the a long time following the revolutions in British North the United States and France, the main novelists wonderful themselves as authors by means of wondering the myth of a self-made person. to teach how novels by means of Defoe, Austen, Scott, Bronte, Dickens, Eliot, Hardy, Haggard, and Stoker participated within the means of making, updating, and perpetuating the determine of the person, Armstrong places them in discussion with the writings of Locke, Hume, Rousseau, Malthus, Darwin, Kant, and Freud. Such theorists as Althusser, Balibar, Foucault, and Deleuze aid her make the purpose that the person used to be no longer one yet numerous diverse figures. The delineation and strength of the fashionable topic depended as a lot upon what it needed to comprise as what choices it needed to ward off to handle the conflicts raging in and round the British novel.

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The hero brings the inflammatory discourse to a stop with this critique: “You talked of expected horrors in London, and instead of instantly conceiving, as any rational creature would have done, that such words could relate only to a circulating library, she immediately pictured to herself a mob of three thousand men assembling in St. George’s Fields; the Bank attacked, the Tower threatened, the streets of London flowing with blood, a detachment of the 12th Light Dragoons . . called up from Northampton to quell the insurgents” (82).

The tradition of the eighteenth-century novel consequently came to resemble the individual produced by the novels composing that tradition, one compelled by its own energy repeatedly to exceed itself and grow as it absorbed new information and remodeled the world as well as the individual who encountered it. What happened to those narratives that play out the contrary logic of sensibility? First of all, I would argue, after Austen no novel could claim to offer an accurate view of “nature as she actually exists in the common walks of life” without including gothic elements.

I will not dwell on how the eponymous hero rationalizes repeated acts of disobedience toward various forms of social authority, from his father to the traditional Christian god. ”13 It is important that Crusoe does not see himself as sinful so much as naturally disinclined to respond to traditional forms of authority. “I never had so much as one Thought of what would become of me,” he explains, but was completely “thoughtless of a God, or a Providence; acted like a meer Brute from the Principles of Nature and by the Dictates of common Sense only, and indeed hardly that” (65).

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