The Practice Of Quixotism

Overview

The Practice of Quixotism models how to think simultaneously about postmodern theory and eighteenth-century texts. The postmodern claim that we encounter "reality" only through cultural scripts of which we are unaware has a long history: eighteenth-century writers thought about this same possibility with the help of quixote figures, who view the "real" through texts they have read. Focusing on unorthodox quixote narratives written by eighteenth-century women, many now popular in today's classroom, The Practice of...

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Overview

The Practice of Quixotism models how to think simultaneously about postmodern theory and eighteenth-century texts. The postmodern claim that we encounter "reality" only through cultural scripts of which we are unaware has a long history: eighteenth-century writers thought about this same possibility with the help of quixote figures, who view the "real" through texts they have read. Focusing on unorthodox quixote narratives written by eighteenth-century women, many now popular in today's classroom, The Practice of Quixotism will fascinate readers interested in recent theory, in eighteenth-century culture, in eighteenth-century women writers—or in the descendants of Don Quixote, who celebrated his 400th birthday in 2005.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Cervantes’ errant knight emerges as a metaphor for aberrant imagination in Scott Paul Gordon’s discussion of the clash between Romantic and Enlightenment thought. Ranging across materials by early women writers—satire, poetry, and prose fiction—Gordon finds that the Quixotic becomes synonymous with misreading. This book then parries with established critical readings to offer provocative reinterpretations of its own."—Janine Barchas, University of Texas at Austin
 
The Practice of Quixotism is a profoundly learned, astonishingly clever, and repeatedly eye- opening book. Differentiating between orthodox quixote narratives (which ask us to believe in the possibility of waking up to the real) and those texts that foster greater skepticism toward how reality is constructed, Gordon illustrates the unexpected ways that the quixote trope was employed during the long eighteenth century in Great Britain.  Through careful readings of works by Charlotte Lennox, Sarah Fielding, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Sophia Lee, and Ann Radcliffe, among others, Gordon offers fascinating epistemological and narrative connections. The book makes an important contribution to several fields of inquiry, simultaneously illuminating the literature of quixotes past and present theoretical controversies. Gordon convincingly demonstrates that all of us are quixotic, whether we acknowledge it or not, and shows that at least some eighteenth-century authors were wise to the problem. No previous scholar has given us such depth of perspective on the subject.”—Devoney Looser, University of Missouri-Columbia
 
"The Practice of Quixotism reflects Gordon's skill as a widely rea hermeneut, and it is a remarkable work of intellectual history and literary criticsm. By viewing the transition from Enlightenment to Romantic thought through the lenses of the quixote trope and postmodern theory, Gordon forces a reconsideration of the feminist critical consensus on works by Lennox, Lee, Sarah Fielding, and others. Through complex and subtle readings of women's writing, Gordon offers a new way to understand British culture in the long eighteenth century." —Stephen A. Raynie, Gordon College
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781403974440
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 11/1/2006
  • Pages: 252
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott Paul Gordon is Associate Professor of English, and Co-Director of the Lawrence Henry Gipson Institute for Eighteenth-Century Studies, at Lehigh University. He has published The Power of the Passive Self in English Literature, 1640-1770 (2002), as well as numerous articles on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century British culture.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Quixote Trope
• Historicizing Quixote and the Scandal of Quixotism * Charlotte Lennox's Female Quixote and Orthodox Quixotism
• Suspicion and Experience in Sarah Fielding's David Simple * Mary Wortley Montagu and the Quixotic Dream of Objectivity
• Quixotic Perception in Sophia Lee's The Recess
Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho and the Practice of Quixotism
• Epilogue: Beyond Quixotism?: Quixotism and Contemporary Theory

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