Daniel Defoe, Contrarian

Overview

A highly conscious wordsmith, Daniel Defoe used expository styles in his fiction and non-fiction that reflected his ability to perceive material and intellectual phenomena from opposing, but not contradictory perspectives. Moreover, the boundaries of genre within his wide-ranging oeuvre can prove highly fluid. In this study, Robert James Merrett approaches Defoe’s body of work using interdisciplinary methods that recognize dialectic in his verbal creativity and cognitive ...

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Daniel Defoe, Contrarian

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Overview

A highly conscious wordsmith, Daniel Defoe used expository styles in his fiction and non-fiction that reflected his ability to perceive material and intellectual phenomena from opposing, but not contradictory perspectives. Moreover, the boundaries of genre within his wide-ranging oeuvre can prove highly fluid. In this study, Robert James Merrett approaches Defoe’s body of work using interdisciplinary methods that recognize dialectic in his verbal creativity and cognitive awareness.

Examining more than ninety of Defoe’s works, Merrett contends that this author’s literariness exploits a conscious dialogue that fosters the reciprocity of traditional and progressive authorial procedures. Along the way, he discusses Defoe’s lexical and semantic sensibility, his rhetorical and aesthetic theories, his contrarian theology, and more. Merrett proposes that Defoe’s contrarian outlook celebrates a view of consciousness that acknowledges the brain’s bipartite structure, and in so doing illustrates how cognitive science may be applied to further explorations of narrative art.

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What People Are Saying

Penny Pritchard
Daniel Defoe: Contrarian offers readers an impressively comprehensive exploration of some of the most complex aspects of Defoe’s voluminous canon. Providing a substantial and rigorous critical perspective from which to consider Defoe’s literary output in its entirety, it is a valuable and substantial contribution to Defoe scholarship.”
Peter Sabor
“The culmination of forty years of thinking and writing about Daniel Defoe, this admirably original and wide-ranging book makes a major contribution to its field. Merrett focuses on what he aptly terms the author’s ‘contrarian imaginary,’ offering numerous fruitful comparisons between the fictional and non-fictional works while paying sustained attention to Defoe’s political, religious and linguistic milieu.”
Timothy Erwin
“In this persuasive new study, Robert James Merrett offers a wholly original linguistic and rhetorical approach to Defoe, turning the heavy page of formal realism to reveal a keen epistemological skepticism at work. Defoe ironizes everything he touches, in Merrett’s view, and work after work discloses contrary poles of expression or belief. The hurried mercantilist we thought we knew is reborn as an artist of keen and purposeful indeterminacy, and the mindful dinglicheit we are accustomed to find in him is wonderfully complicated by dialectical variety.”
From the Publisher
Daniel Defoe: Contrarian offers readers an impressively comprehensive exploration of some of the most complex aspects of Defoe’s voluminous canon. Providing a substantial and rigorous critical perspective from which to consider Defoe’s literary output in its entirety, it is a valuable and substantial contribution to Defoe scholarship.”

“The culmination of forty years of thinking and writing about Daniel Defoe, this admirably original and wide-ranging book makes a major contribution to its field. Merrett focuses on what he aptly terms the author’s ‘contrarian imaginary,’ offering numerous fruitful comparisons between the fictional and non-fictional works while paying sustained attention to Defoe’s political, religious and linguistic milieu.”

“In this persuasive new study, Robert James Merrett offers a wholly original linguistic and rhetorical approach to Defoe, turning the heavy page of formal realism to reveal a keen epistemological skepticism at work. Defoe ironizes everything he touches, in Merrett’s view, and work after work discloses contrary poles of expression or belief. The hurried mercantilist we thought we knew is reborn as an artist of keen and purposeful indeterminacy, and the mindful dinglicheit we are accustomed to find in him is wonderfully complicated by dialectical variety.”

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442646100
  • Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
  • Publication date: 3/28/2013
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert James Merrett is a professor in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements

Preface

1 Contraries: Linguistic, Narrative, and Theological

2 Just Reflections

3 Serious Reflections: An Apology for Faith and Fiction

4 Biblical Allusions as Narrative Resources

5 Political Impersonations and Cultural Implications

6 Political Imaginings: Sacred and Profane

7 Marriage and Matrimony: Ideological and Fictional Contraries

8 Defoe’s Imaginary: Narrative Inference, Figurative Expression, and Spiritual Cognition

Bibliography

Index

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