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Men of feeling in eighteenth-century literature: touching fiction

Men of feeling in eighteenth-century literature: touching fiction

Wetmore, Alex, 1979- author

Analysing texts by Sterne, Smollett, Brooke, and Mackenzie, this book offers a new perspective on a question that literary criticism has struggled with for years: why are many sentimental novels of the 1700s so pervasively and playfully self-conscious, and why is this self-consciousness so often directed toward the materiality of the printed word?

eBook, Electronic resource, Book. English. Electronic books.
Published Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013
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Available: Online

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    Barcode Shelfmark Loan type Status
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Statement of responsibility: Alex Wetmore
ISBN: 1137346345, 9781137346346
Note: Formerly CIP.
Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Physical Description: x, 207 pages
Subject: Fiction & related items; Mackenzie, Henry, 1745-1831 Criticism and interpretation.; Literary theory; English fiction 18th century History and criticism.; Cultural studies; English; Ireland; Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers; Fiction: general & literary; Sterne, Laurence, 1713-1768 Criticism and interpretation.; 18th century, c 1700 to c 1799; Literature; Smollett, T. (Tobias), 1721-1771 Criticism and interpretation.; Society & culture: general; Literature: history & criticism; Brooke, Henry, 1703?-1783 Criticism and interpretation.; Literary studies: c 1600 to c 1800; Literary studies: general; Sentimentalism in literature History 18th century.; United Kingdom, Great Britain
Reproduction: Electronic reproduction. Askews and Holts. Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Other formats: Also available in printed form ISBN 9781137346339


  1. Acknowledgements 1. Introductory Matter
  2. Structuring Sensibility in Eighteenth-Century Fiction 2. Body/Language 3. Feeling/Machines 4. Public/Health 5. Concluding Matter
  3. Tear-Blotted Texts and Men of Feeling in the 1790s Afterword Bibliography Index

Author note

Alex Wetmore teaches in the English department at the University of the Fraser Valley in British Columbia, Canada.


Men of Feeling in Eighteenth-Century Literature offers a new perspective on the interplay of sentimentalism and self-reflexivity in novels by Sterne, Smollett, Mackenzie, and Henry Brooke. Rather than evidence of eighteenth-century literature's capacity to anticipate (post)modernist metafiction, or an indicator of underlying tensions at the heart of sentimental fiction, self-reflexive practices in these texts, this book argues, can best be accounted for as strategies of 'corporeal defamiliarization.' These strategies denaturalize printed books as intimate things to be felt, whose powers reside not in their transportative potential as windows onto imagined worlds, but in their more tangible properties as physical objects that inspire physiological effects.