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Literature of the 18th century
"Le roman moderne naît avec Richardson, Fielding, Rousseau et Prévost. Il passe ensuite à Le Moine et à Ann Radcliffe" --Marquis de Sade, 1800
Parent categories: 1700s - history - literature - novel
Genres: amatory fiction - Adventure novel - Epistolary novel - Gothic novel - "histories" - Libertine novel - Sentimental novel
Publishers: Edmund Curll
Background: enlightenment - Neoclassicism - French Revolution
Authors: Abbé Prévost - William Blake - Restif de la Bretonne - Casanova - John Cleland - Claude Prosper Jolyot de Crébillon - Daniel Defoe - Marquis de Sade - Denis Diderot - David Hume - Immanuel Kant - Pierre Choderlos de Laclos - Delarivier Manley - André de Nerciat - Ann Radcliffe - Jean-Jacques Rousseau - Jonathan Swift - Giambattista Vico - Voltaire - Horace Walpole - Mary Wollstonecraft
Titles: Robinson Crusoe (1719) - Pamela (1740) - Dom Bougre (1741) - Le Sopha, conte moral (1742) - Thérèse Philosophe (1748) - Bijoux Indiscrets (1748) - Fanny Hill (1750) - Tristram Shandy (1760-1770) - Castle of Otranto (1765) - Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1782) - The 120 Days of Sodom (1785) - Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) - La Religieuse (1796) - The Monk (1796) - L'Histoire de Juliette (1797)
European literature of the 18th century refers to literature (poetry, drama and novels) produced in Europe during the 18th century. The 18th century saw the development of the novel as literary genre, in fact many candidates for the first novel in English date from this period, of which Daniel Defoe's 1719 Robinson Crusoe is probably the best known. Subgenres of the novel during the 18th century were the epistolary novel, the sentimental novel, histories, the gothic novel and the libertine novel.
18th Century Europe started in the Age of Enlightenment and gradually moved towards Romanticism. In the visual arts, it was the period of Neoclassicism.
Early 18th century novels and romances were still not considered part the world of learning, hence, not of part of literature; they were market goods. If you opened the term catalogues it was mostly situated in the—predominantly political—field of "histories" with some romances like Cervantes Don Quixote translated into verse becoming poetical. The integration of prose fiction into the market of histories appeared under the following scheme: --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histories_(history_of_the_novel) [Apr 2005]
The novel's beginnings were not entirely prestigious
The English novel's beginnings were not entirely prestigious. Due to the public's disapproval of "invented" stories, Daniel Defoe, Tobias Smollett, Henry and Sarah Fielding and their contemporaries labeled their fictions as "histories," "lives," "memoirs," "voyages," "travels" and "adventures." A number of these works were indeed based upon truth, but so greatly embellished that the appeal was the same as that of total imagination.
In addition, the inept efforts of Grub Street literary hacks and talented, but starving, artists lent credence to the proposal that prose fiction was dangerous and frivolous. These people wrote rapidly and badly, yet they achieved real popularity, expanding the early audience for fiction. Eventually, with the rise of major British writers and with the influx of the higher quality (and better written) French and Spanish prose, the novel gained acceptance as an art form. --http://www.gale.com/servlet/ItemDetailServlet?region=9&imprint=000&titleCode=PSM85&type=4&id=N270 [Nov 2005]
The work of these five giants (Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, Tobias Smollett, Laurence Sterne) was accompanied by interesting experiments from a number of lesser novelists. Sarah Fielding, for instance, Henry's sister, wrote penetratingly and gravely about friendship in The Adventures of David Simple (1744, with a sequel in 1753). Charlotte Lennox in The Female Quixote (1752) and Richard Graves in The Spiritual Quixote (1773) responded inventively to the influence of Cervantes, also discernible in the writing of Fielding, Smollett, and Sterne. John Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (known as Fanny Hill; 1748-49) chose a more contentious path; in his charting of a young girl's sexual initiation, he experiments with minutely detailed ways of describing the physiology of intercourse. In emphatic contrast, Henry Mackenzie's Man of Feeling (1771) offers an extremist, and rarefied, version of the sentimental hero, while Horace Walpole's Castle of Otranto (1765) somewhat laboriously initiated the vogue for Gothic fiction. William Beckford's Vathek (1786), Ann Radcliffe's Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), and Matthew Lewis' Monk (1796) are among the more distinctive of its successors. But the most engaging and thoughtful minor novelist of the period is Fanny Burney, who was also an evocative and self-revelatory diarist and letter writer. Her Evelina (1778) and Camilla (1796) in particular handle with independence of invention and emotional insight the theme of a young woman negotiating her first encounters with a dangerous social world. --© Copyright 1999 Britannica.com Inc. via http://mural.uv.es/franrey/novel.html [Nov 2005]
The Second Rise of the Novel or the New Romance, 1700-1800
The early 18th century had — with the novel diving into private and public scandal — reached a state of affairs where a new reform seemed desirable. The old Amadis could be said to have driven its readers into dream worlds, and the new novels, devoid of lofty speeches and incredible acts of heroism, had done much to refine taste. Yet they had created entirely new risks, with stories of love in which children cheated their parents, and with which private and public gossip were published on the open market.
Jane Barker was among the 18th century voices who demanded a return to the old antiquated romance. Her "New Romance" Exilius (1715) opened with the sketch of a new tradition: the romance had, so Jane Barker claimed, developed from Geoffrey Chaucer to François Fénelon; the latter was the author who had just become famous with his epochal romance Telemachus (1699/1700).
Fénelon's English publishers had carefully avoided the term "romance" and rather published a "new epic in prose" — so the prefaces. Jane Barker insisted, however, on publishing her Exilius as "New Romance [...] after the manner of Telemachus", and failed on the market. In 1719 her publisher, Curll, finally removed the old title pages and offered her works as a collection of novels.
The big market success of the next decade — Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe — appeared that very year and W. Taylor, the publisher, avoided all these traps with a title page claiming neither the realm of novels nor that of romances, but that of histories, yet with a page design tasting all too much of the "new romance" with which Fénelon had just become famous.
Defoe's Robinson Crusoe was everything but a novel, as the term was understood at the time. It was neither short, nor did it focus on an intrigue, nor was it told for the sake of a clear cut point. Nor was Crusoe an anti-hero of a satirical romance, though he spoke the first person singular and had stumbled into all kinds of miseries. He did not really invite laughter (though readers of taste would read, of course, all his proclamations about being a real man as made in good humour). The feigned author was serious: Against his will his life had brought him into this series of most romantic adventures. He had fallen into the hands of pirates and survived years on an uninhabited island. He had survived all this—a mere sailor from York—with exemplary heroism. If readers read his work as a romance, full of sheer invention, he could not blame them. He and his publisher knew that all he had to tell was strictly unbelievable, and yet they would claim it was true (and if not, still readable as good allegory)—the complex game which puts this work into the fourth column of the pattern above. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novel#The_Second_Rise_of_the_Novel_or_the_New_Romance.2C_1700-1800 [Nov 2005]
The Market of Classics and the Reform of the Novel, 1700-1800
The publication of Robinson Crusoe did not lead into the mid-18th century market reform. Crusoe's books were published as a dubious histories; they played the game of the scandalous early 18th century market, with the novel fully integrated into the realm of histories. They even appeared reprinted by one of the London newspapers as a possibly true relation of facts. Philosophers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau turned Robinson Crusoe into a classic decades later, and it took another century before one could see Defoe's book as the first English "novel"—published, as Ian Watt saw it in 1957, as an answer to the market of French romances.
The reform of the early 18th century market of novels came with the production of classics: 1720 saw the decisive edition of classics of the European novel published in London with titles from Machiavelli to Marie de LaFayette. Aphra Behn's novels had over the last decades appeared in collections of her works. The author of the 1680s had become a classic by now. Fénelon had become a classic years ago, as had Heliodorus. The works of Petronius and Longos appeared, equipped with prefaces which put them into the tradition of prose fiction Huet had defined. Prose fiction itself had, according to the critics, a history of ups and downs: having run into a crisis with the Amadis, it found its remedy with the novel. It now needed continuous care. Yet, all in all, it could claim to be the most elegant part of the belles lettres, the new market segment within the bigger market of literature, embracing the new classics.
Huet's Traitté de l'origine des romans first published in 1670 and now circulating in a number of translations and editions won a central position among those writings which had dealt with prose fiction. The Treatise had created the first corpus of texts to be discussed and it had been the first title that demonstrated how one could "interpret" worldly fictions — just as a theologian would interpret parts of the gospel in a theological debate. The interpretation needed its aims, of course—and Huet had offered a number of questions one could ask: What did the fictional work of a foreign culture or distant period tell us about those who constructed the fiction? What were the cultural needs such stories answered? Are there fundamental anthropological premises which make us create fictional worlds? Did these fictions entertain, divert and instruct? Did they—as one could assume when reading ancient and medieval myths—just provide a substitute for better, more scientific knowledge or did they add to the luxuries of life a particular culture enjoyed? The ancient Mediterranean erotic stories could afford such an interpretation.
The interpretation and analysis of classics placed readers of fictions in an entirely new and improved position: it made a vast difference whether you read a romance and got lost in a dream world or whether you read the same romance with a preface telling you more about the Greeks, Romans or Arabs who produced titles like the Aethopica or The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (first published in Europe from 1704 to 1717 in French and translated immediately from this edition into English and German). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novel [Nov 2005]
To be Discussed: The Novel turning into Literature, 1740-1800
The early 18th century market for classics of prose fiction inspired living authors. Aphra Behn turned from an anonymous hack into a celebrated author after her death. Fénelon achieved the same fame during his life time. Delarivier Manley, Jane Barker and Eliza Haywood followed their famous French models who had dared to claim fame with their real names: the Madame d'Aulnoy and Anne Marguerite Petit DuNoyer. Most previous novels had been pseudonymous; now they became the productions of famous authors.
The discourse necessary to appreciate such a move towards responsibility was yet underdeveloped. Journals discussing literature focussed on "learning", literature in the strict sense of the word. So far, most discussion of novels and romances had taken place within the field itself. Literary criticism, a critical—external—discourse about poetry and fiction arose in the second half of the 18th century. It opened an interaction between separate participants in which novelists would write in order to be criticised and in which the public would observe the interaction between critics and authors. The new criticism of the late 18th century offered a reform by establishing a market of works worthy to be discussed (whilst the rest of the market would thus continue but lose most of its public appeal). The result was a market division into a low field of popular fictions and a critical literary production. The latter privileged works which rivalled ancient verse epics to be discussed as art, which played with the traditions of prose fiction (they opened an internal discourse about the history of literature), and which were of a clearly defined fictional status—they alone could be discussed as works created by an artist who wanted this and no other story to be discussed by the audience.
The old design of title pages changed: New novels no longer pretended to sell fictions whilst threatening to betray real secrets. Nor did they appear as false "true histories". The new title pages pronounced their works to be fictions, and indicated how the public might discuss them. Samuel Richardson’s Pamela or Virtue Rewarded (1740) was one of the titles which brought the old novel-title with its "[...] or [...]" formula offering an example into the new format: "Pamela or Virtue Rewarded – Now first published in order to cultivate the Principles of Virtue and Religion in the Minds of the Youth of Both Sexes, A Narrative which has the Foundation in Truth and Nature; and at the same time that it agreeably entertains…" So the title page read, and made it clear that the work was crafted by an artist aiming at a certain effect—yet to be discussed by the critical audience. A decade later novels, needed no other status than that of being novels, fiction. Present-day editions of novels simply state "Fiction" on the cover. It had become prestigious to be sold under the label, asking for discussion and thought.
Scandal as the DuNoyer or Delarivier Manley had published it vanished from the market of prose fiction—whether high or low. It could not attract serious critics and it was lost if it remained undiscussed. It ultimately needed its own brand of scandalous journalism—the journalism which developed with the yellow press. The low market of prose fiction went on to focus on immediate satisfaction of an audience enjoying its stay in the fictional world. The high market grew complex, with works playing new games.
On the high market, one could eventually see two traditions developing: one of works playing with the art of fiction — Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy is among them — the other closer to the prevailing discussions and moods of its audience. The great conflict of the 19th century was yet to come, as to whether artists should write to satisfy the public or whether to produce art for art's sake. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novel#To_be_Discussed:_The_Novel_turning_into_Literature.2C_1740-1800 [Nov 2005]
Robinson Crusoe (1719) - Daniel Defoe
Robinson Crusoe (1719) - Daniel Defoe
Image sourced here.
Robinson Crusoe is a novel by Daniel Defoe, first published in 1719 and sometimes regarded as the first novel in English. The book is a fictional autobiography of Crusoe, the eponymous hero, a castaway on a remote island. Its full title is The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner: who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un-inhabited Island on the coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver'd by Pirates. Written by Himself. This device, presenting an account of supposedly factual events, is known as a "false document", and gives a realistic frame to the fiction. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robinson_Crusoe [Sept 2005]
Defoe's Robinson Crusoe was everything but a novel, as the term was understood at the time. It was neither short, nor did it focus on an intrigue, nor was it told for the sake of a clear cut point. Neither was Crusoe an anti-hero of a satirical romance, though he spoke the first person singular and had stumbled into all kinds of miseries. He did not really invite laughter (though readers of taste would read, of course, all his proclamations about being a real man as made in good humour). The feigned author was serious: Against his will his life had brought him into this series of most romantic adventures. He had fallen into the hands of pirates and survived years on an uninhabited island. He had survived all this—a mere sailor from York—with exemplary heroism. If readers read his work as a romance, full of sheer invention, he could not blame them. He and his publisher knew that all he had to tell was strictly unbelievable, and yet they would claim it was true (and if not, still readable as good allegory)—the complex game which puts this work into the fourth column of the pattern above. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novel#The_Second_Rise_of_the_Novel_or_the_New_Romance.2C_1700-1800 [Sept 2005]
The publication of Robinson Crusoe did not lead into the mid-18th century market reform. Crusoe's books were published as a dubious histories; they played the game of the scandalous early 18th century market, with the novel fully integrated into the realm of histories. They even appeared reprinted by one of the London newspapers as a possibly true relation of facts. Philosophers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau turned Robinson Crusoe into a classic decades later, and it took another century before one could see Defoe's book as the first English "novel"—published, as Ian Watt saw it in 1957, as an answer to the market of French romances. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novel#To_be_Discussed:_The_Novel_turning_into_Literature.2C_1740-1800 [Sept 2005]
See also: UK - novel - 1700s
Subversive Words (1994) - Arlette Farge
Subversive Words: Public Opinion in 18th Century France (1994) - Arlette Farge [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
From Publishers Weekly
Farge clearly recognizes the danger of writing about public opinion in 18th-century France: ``that of setting out to find, in an eighteenth century which we know ended in revolution, a current of hostile opinion becoming continually stronger until it naturally reaches the upsurge of 1789.'' Probably more important than the piggy-backed episodes of hostility Farge records is the changing attitude to the whole idea of a popular opinion in the first place. Over the course of the century, popular opinion went from something that was officially considered nonexistent to an increasingly powerful political force.
Farge draws not only on well-known memoirs but on the ephemeral news-sheets and the gazetins, the reports of police observers and spies popularly called mouches (flies) culled from the old Bastille archives. Starting in 1713 with the anti-Jansenist papal bull Unigenitus and continuing on through Damiens's attack on Louis XV in 1758, public reaction returned time and again to the abuse of power in the first case and to the vulnerability of the king in the second. If Farge is leery of interpreting the events of the first half of the century as leading inexorably up to the second, her account still gives an intriguing look into a volatile but important factor in the formation of modern French history. --Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information, Inc. via Amazon.com
see also: 1700s - subversion
The New Atalantis (1709) - Delarivier Manley
The New Atalantis (1709) - Delarivier Manley [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
New Atalantis (1709) is an early and influential example of satirical political writing by a woman. It was suppressed on the grounds of its scandalous nature and Manley (1663-1724) was arrested and tried.
Delarivier Manley was in her day as well-known and potent a political satirist as her friend and co-editor Jonathan Swift. A fervent Tory, Manley skilfully interweaves sexual and political allegory in the tradition of the roman a clef in an acerbic vilification of her Whig opponents. The book's publication in 1709 - fittingly the year of the collapse of the Whig ministry - caused a scandal which led to the arrest of the author, publisher and printer.
The story concerns the return to earth of the goddess of justice, Astrea, to gather information about private and public behaviour on the island of Atalantis. Delarivier Manley drew on her own experiences as well as on an obsessive observation of her milieu to produce this fast-paced narrative of political and erotic intrigue. The republication of this important early eighteenth-century text is timely because in Manley's concerns - with sexual and political corruption in high places, the power of the propagandist and the role of the woman writer - we recognise those of today. --http://www.pickeringchatto.com/newatlantis.htm [Nov 2005]
When Flesh Becomes Word: An Anthology of Early Eighteenth-Century Libertine Literature (2004) - Bradford K. Mudge
When Flesh Becomes Word: An Anthology of Early Eighteenth-Century Libertine Literature (2004) - Bradford K. Mudge [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
When Flesh Becomes Word collects nine different examples of British libertine literature that appeared before 1750. Three of these--The School of Venus (1680), Venus in the Cloister (1725), and A Dialogue Between a Married Lady and a Maid (1740)--are famous "whore dialogues," dramatic conversations between an older, experienced woman and a younger, inexperienced maid. Previously unavailable to the modern reader, these dialogues combine sex education, medical folklore, and erotic literature in a decidedly proto-pornographic form. This edition also presents a range of other examples of libertine literature, including bawdy poetry, a salacious medical treatise, an irreverent travelogue, and a criminal biography. The combination of both popular and influential texts presented in this edition provides an accessible introduction to the variety of material available to eighteenth-century readers before the publication of John Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure in 1749.
See also: whore dialogues - libertine - 1700s
Lolotte (1792) - Andrea de Nerciat
Lolotte (1792) - Andrea de Nerciat [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Tout lecteur de Lolotte en sera convaincu, Nerciat est l’un des meilleurs écrivains du XVIIIe siècle. C’est le Diderot de la pornographie. D’ailleurs, bien des cousinages littéraires existent entre Jacques le fataliste et Lolotte. Dans les deux romans, l’auteur joue avec le lecteur et le maître mot reste le plaisir de conter, qui les amours de Jacques, qui les fouteries de Lolotte. Vaste rhapsodie qu’unifie un parti pris de gaieté, de dérision et de parodie, Lolotte est un roman libre, dans tous les sens du terme. --http://www.zulma.fr/TitresDetail.asp?L=265 [Jan 2005]
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