Fables of Modernity: Literature and Culture in the English Eighteenth Century

Fables of Modernity: Literature and Culture in the English Eighteenth Century

by Laura Brown

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Overview

Fables of Modernity expands the territory for cultural and literary criticism by introducing the concept of the cultural fable. Laura Brown shows how cultural fables arise from material practices in eighteenth-century England. These fables, the author says, reveal the eighteenth-century origins of modernity and its connection with two related paradigms of difference—the woman and the "native" or non-European.

The collective narratives that Brown finds in the print culture of the period engage such prominent phenomena as the city sewer, trade and shipping, the stock market, the commercial printing industry, the "native" visitor to London, and the household pet. In connecting imagination and history through the category of the cultural fable, Brown illuminates the nature of modern experience in the growing metropolitan centers, the national consequences of global expansion, the volatility of credit, the transforming effects of capital, and the domestic consequences of colonialism and slavery.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801488443
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 01/24/2003
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.65(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Laura Brown is John Wendell Anderson Professor and Chair of the English Department at Cornell University. She is author, most recently, of Ends of Empire: Women and Ideology in Early Eighteenth-Century English Literature, also from Cornell.

What People are Saying About This

John Richetti

"Laura Brown's Fables of Modernity is a richly satisfying study of the cultural fables of early modernity in 18th-century English culture. Authoritative and commanding in its scholarship, a synthesis of the best work in recent cultural studies, Brown's book is powerful and original, consistently stimulating and provocative."

Nancy Armstrong

"Fables of Modernity is a wonderful book. In it, Laura Brown returns to the scene of structuralism and demonstrates that our concern with narrative—as a way of making sense of cultural antinomies—was too soom displaced by a brand of poststructuralism that made all such signifying systems melt into air. She homes in on three cultural fables that mark modernity's emergence in the early eigthteenth century. Working deftly across an extensive field of letters that includes both Augustan poetry and sentimental fiction, she shows how these texts not only talk to one another but also make sense each in its own right as they draw on these fables to do so. Fables of Modernity both rewards the reader many times over with exciting new readings of Clarissa, The Dunclad, and Sir Charles Grandison and demonstrates a new way of reading historically."

Joseph Roach

"On urgent topics that include urban infrastructure, global financial markets, intercultural contact and exchange, and the boundaries of the human and nonhuman, Laura Brown's excellent Fables of Modernity makes a crucial point about the eighteenth century that scholars have long suspected but until now have left relatively unexplored—it isn't over yet."

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