The Power of the Passive Self in English Literature

Tags: English Literature, Cambridge University Press, Scott Paul Gordon, Scott Paul Gordon Frontmatter, Scott Paul, Samuel Richardson, Cambridge, United Kingdom CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY, Cambridge CB2 2RU, PRESS SYNDICATE, Paul Gordon, University Press, eighteenth-century literature, seventeenth-century, Barbara Lewalski, Stephen Greenblatt, James Engell, Harvard University, Lehigh University, Chadwick Allen, eighteenth-century England
Content: Cambridge University Press 0521810051 - The Power of the Passive Self in English literature, 1640-1770 Scott Paul Gordon Frontmatter More information Challenging recent work that contends that seventeenth-century English discourses privilege the notion of a self-enclosed, selfsufficient individual, The Power of the Passive Self in English Literature recovers a counter-tradition that imagines selves as more passively prompted than actively choosing. This tradition ­ which Scott Paul Gordon locates in seventeenth-century religious discourse, in early eighteenth-century moral philosophy, in mid-eighteenth-century acting theory, and in the emergent novel ­ resists autonomy and defers agency from the individual to an external "prompter." Gordon argues that the trope of passivity aims to guarantee a disinterested self in a culture that was increasingly convinced that every deliberate action involves calculating one's own interest. Gordon traces the origins of such ideas from their roots in the nonconformist religious tradition to their flowering in one of the central texts of eighteenth-century literature, Samuel Richardson's Clarissa. Scott Paul Gordon is an associate professor of English at Lehigh University. He has published numerous articles on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century subjects.
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Cambridge University Press 0521810051 - The Power of the Passive Self in English Literature, 1640-1770 Scott Paul Gordon Frontmatter More information THE POWER OF THE PASSIVE SELF IN ENGLISH LITERATURE, 1640--1770
© Cambridge University Press
www.cambridge.org
Cambridge University Press 0521810051 - The Power of the Passive Self in English Literature, 1640-1770 Scott Paul Gordon Frontmatter More information THE POWER OF THE PASSIVE SELF IN ENGLISH LITERATURE, 1640--1770 SCOTT PAUL GORDON
© Cambridge University Press
www.cambridge.org
Cambridge University Press 0521810051 - The Power of the Passive Self in English Literature, 1640-1770 Scott Paul Gordon Frontmatter More information
PUBLISHED BY THE PRESS SYNDICATE OF THE University of Cambridge The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, United Kingdom
CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 2RU, UK 40 West 20th Street, New York, NY 10011 -4211, USA 10 Stamford Road, Oakleigh, VIC 3166, Australia Ruiz de Alarcoґn 13, 28014 Madrid, Spain Dock House, The Waterfront, Cape Town 8001, South Africa http://www.cambridge.org C Scott Paul Gordon 2002
This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published 2002
Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge Typeface Baskerville Monotype 11 /12.5 pt. System LATEX 2 [TB] A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication data
Gordon, Scott Paul, 1965­
The power of the passive self in English literature, 1640­1770 / by Scott Paul Gordon.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0 521 81005 1
1. English literature ­ 18th century ­ History and criticism. 2. Passivity (Psychology) in literature. 3. English literature ­ Early modern, 1500­1700 ­ History and criticism. 4. Christianity and literature ­ Great Britain ­ History ­ 18th century. 5. Christianity and literature ­ Great Britain ­ History ­ 17th century. 6. Ethics in literature. 7. Self in literature. I. Title.
820.9 353 ­ dc21
PR448.P28 G67 2002
2001043612
ISBN 0 521 81005 1 hardback
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Cambridge University Press 0521810051 - The Power of the Passive Self in English Literature, 1640-1770 Scott Paul Gordon Frontmatter More information To my parents and my grandmother
© Cambridge University Press
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Cambridge University Press 0521810051 - The Power of the Passive Self in English Literature, 1640-1770 Scott Paul Gordon Frontmatter More information
Contents
Acknowledgments
page x
Introduction. "Spring and Motive of our Actions":
disinterest and self-interest
1
1 "Acted by Another": agency and action in early modern
England
21
2 "The belief of the people": Thomas Hobbes and the battle
over the heroic
54
3 "For want of some heedfull Eye": Mr. Spectator and
the power of spectacle
86
4 "For its own sake": virtue and agency in early
eighteenth-century England
119
5 "Not perform'd at all": managing Garrick's body
in eighteenth-century England
153
6 "I wrote my Heart": Richardson's Clarissa and the tactics
of sentiment
182
Epilogue: "A sign of so noble a passion": the politics of
disinterested selves
212
Notes
215
Bibliography
249
Index
273
ix © Cambridge University Press
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Cambridge University Press 0521810051 - The Power of the Passive Self in English Literature, 1640-1770 Scott Paul Gordon Frontmatter More information
Acknowledgments
This study begins by investigating Calvinist writers who, as David Little wrote, perfected the logic by which authors credit others for what is worthy in their work. When I inspect my own work, I (like them) am pleased to find the presence of others. This project was enabled by a community (now scattered) gathered in and around Harvard University. For intellectual, professional, and personal support I thank James Basker, Chris Cannon, Ophair Caras, Carolyn Dever, James Engell, Stephen Greenblatt, Barbara Lewalski, Jeffrey Masten, Cheryl Nixon, John Norman, Annabel Patterson, Kristen Poole, Allen Reddick, Charles Reiss, Steven Richmond, Michael Shinagel, Elizabeth Spiller, Douglas Stewart, Scott Stevens, John Thompson, Helen Vendler, Richard Wendorf, and Eric Wilson. My deepest thanks go to Chadwick Allen, Douglas Bruster, and Elizabeth Scala, who spent many hours arguing about this project (and everything else), and to Leo Damrosch, whose model of intellectual and pedagogical activity so transformed this project and its author that I cannot imagine what either would be without him. The eighteenth-century group at Harvard's Center for Literary and Cultural Studies, in particular Ruth Perry, Susan Staves, and Jan Thaddeus, provided stimulation, encouragement, and an invitation to present a version of chapter 6. A more generous scholar than Gwynne Evans I have not met. I regret that Walter Jackson Bate, whose lectures on Johnson first drew me to eighteenth-century studies, will not see this book in print. Lehigh University has been home to this project's second life. For friendship and intellectual engagement I am grateful to Gordon Bearn, Pete Beidler, Gina Bright, Tracey Cummings, Stephen doCarmo, Alex Doty, Betsy Fifer, Jim Frakes, Carol Laub, Ed Lotto, Rosemary Mundhenk, Oliver Nun~ez, Barbara Pavlock, Michael Raposa, Julie Roe, and Christian Sisack. I owe special thanks to Barbara Traister and Barry Kroll, the two Department Chairs under whom I have served, x
© Cambridge University Press
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Cambridge University Press 0521810051 - The Power of the Passive Self in English Literature, 1640-1770 Scott Paul Gordon Frontmatter More information
Acknowledgments
xi
for fostering an unusually collegial department and, more personally, for caring about their junior faculty's well-being. Three colleagues in particular ­ Jan Fergus, David Hawkes, and Patty Ingham ­ have kept my head spinning, in all the best ways; every writer should have a reader like Jan nearby. Chris Litman and Bob Wilson, who at different times read the entire manuscript, found and solved many problems that my eyes missed. For financial assistance, I am grateful to the Mellon Foundation, to the Lawrence Henry Gipson Institute for Eighteenth-Century Studies, and to Lehigh University for two Franz Junior Faculty Fellowships for summer research and for a semester's leave. This book could not have been written without the help of staff at the University of Pennsylvania's Van Pelt Library, at the Library of Congress, at Lehigh University's Linderman Library and its Special Collections, and especially at Harvard's Houghton Library, Widener Library, and Theater Collection. At Cambridge University Press, Linda Bree ­ a generous editor with unerring advice and judgment ­ recruited superb readers for my manuscript. Chapters 3 and 6 rework material that originally appeared in The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation and ELH, and I thank these journals for permission to reprint. Finally, and most importantly, I thank the members of my family ­ my parents, my brothers and their families, all the Baksts, and my grandmother, now 100 ­ who have supported me in so many ways during the long making of this book.
© Cambridge University Press
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