Art and Money in the Writings of Tobias Smollett

Overview

Shedding new light on a misunderstood master, this study situates Tobias Smollett (1721-1771) as a key witness to the birth of the modern commercial art market. Focusing on the aesthetic issues of taste, luxury, commercialism, as well as aesthetics itself, William L. Gibson examines Smollett's histories and non-fiction writing as well as his novels to open a panorama on the eighteenth-century art world. Art and Money in the Writings of Tobias Smollett demonstrates how Smollett's articles on fine art for the ...
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Overview

Shedding new light on a misunderstood master, this study situates Tobias Smollett (1721-1771) as a key witness to the birth of the modern commercial art market. Focusing on the aesthetic issues of taste, luxury, commercialism, as well as aesthetics itself, William L. Gibson examines Smollett's histories and non-fiction writing as well as his novels to open a panorama on the eighteenth-century art world. Art and Money in the Writings of Tobias Smollett demonstrates how Smollett's articles on fine art for the Critical Review (1756-63) straddle the fence between advertisements and art criticism, and create snapshots of the role periodical publishing played in fostering the commercial art market. Chapters on Peregrine Pickle (1751, revised 1758), Travels Through France and Italy (1766), and The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker (1771) explore Smollett's perspective on the burgeoning art market of the period, the social aspect of art appreciation, and the role of fashionable architecture. Smollett's articles from the Critical Review, never before collated and printed in a scholarly work, are collected in an annotated appendix, while the lavish illustrations to his Complete History of England (1755-58), and its Continuation (1760-65), which underlines the writer's complicity in the for-profit art world of the time, are examined in a second appendix. The Tobias Smollett that emerges in this study is a far cry from the blustering "Smelfungus" portrayed by his fellow novelist Lawrence Sterne. Instead, he is discovered to be sensitive to the major aesthetic issues of his day, and instrumental in the birth of the public art market. Lucidly written and thoroughly researched, Art and Money in the Writings of Tobias Smollett will be of interest to people in literary history and criticism, art history, and social history - whether as scholars, students, or generally educated readers.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

William L. Gibson teaches at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Biography

Science fiction owes an enormous debt to William Gibson, the cyberpunk pioneer who revolutionized the genre with his startling stories of tough, alienated loners adrift in a world of sinister high technology.

Gibson was born in Conway, South Carolina, and spent much of his youth in Virginia with his widowed mother. He grew up shy and bookish, discovering science fiction and the literature of the beats at a precociously early age. When he was 15, he was sent away to private school in Arizona, but he left without graduating when his mother died suddenly. He fled to Canada to avoid the draft and immersed himself in '60s counterculture. He married, moved to British Columbia, and enrolled in college, graduating in 1977 with a degree in English. Around this time he began to write in earnest, combining his lifelong love of science fiction and his newfound passion for the punk music evolving in New York and London.

In the early 1980s, Gibson met writer and punk musician John Shirley and sci-fi authors Lewis Shiner and Bruce Sterling. All three were blown away by the power and originality of Gibson's stories, and together the four men went on to forge a radical new literary movement called cyberpunk. In 1984, Gibson's groundbreaking first novel, Neuromancer, was published. Daring and revolutionary, it envisioned such techno-marvels as AI, virtual reality, genetic engineering, and multinational capitalism years before they became realities. Although it was not an immediate sensation, Neuromancer struck a chord with hardcore sci-fi fans who turned it into a word-of-mouth hit. Then it won the Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick Awards (the Triple Crown of Science Fiction), catapulting Gibson into superstardom overnight.

Even if he had never written another word, Gibson's impact would be clearly seen in the works of such cutting-edge contemporary authors as Neal Stephenson, Pat Cadigan, and Paul DiFilippo. But, as it is, Neuromancer was just the beginning -- the first book in an inspired trilogy that has come to be considered a benchmark in the history of the genre; and since then, Gibson has gone on to create even more visionary science fiction, including The Difference Engine, a steampunk classic co-authored with Bruce Sterling, and such imaginative post-9/11 cyber thrillers as Pattern Recognition and Spook Country .

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    1. Also Known As:
      William Ford Gibson (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 17, 1948
    2. Place of Birth:
      Conway, South Carolina
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of British Columbia, 1977

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments     7
Introduction: A Scot, Fine Art, Money, and the Need for Criticism     11
Commerce and Aesthetics: Smollett as Witness to the Birth of the Commercial Art Market     16
"That laudable ardour for improvement": Smollett's Art Reviews in The Critical Review, 1756-63     33
Smollett's Portrait of a Painter: Layman Pallet in The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle     81
A Courtesan, a Cockpit, and a Peasant: Iconoclastic Tourism in Travels Through France and Italy     107
Bath and Other Follies: Landscape Painting and Fashionable Architecture in The Expedition of Humphry Clinker     137
The Fine Art Articles in the Critical Review, 1756-63     163
The Illustration of the Complete History and its Continuation     179
Notes     187
Selected Bibliography     204
Index     217
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