Becoming the Gentleman: British Literature and the Invention of Modern Masculinity, 1660-1815

Hardcover | June 27, 2012

byJ. Solinger

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The question of what it meant to be a gentleman haunted Britons throughout the long eighteenth century. This period saw the gentleman emerge as the dominant persona of essayists, critics, and male conduct book writers as well as the ideal husband imagined by the authors of heroine-centered domestic fiction. In Becoming the Gentleman, Jason D. Solinger explains why this masculine ideal became a cultural obsession. What was at stake in the definition of the gentleman, he argues, was nothing less than a new kind of ruling-class male: a modern man whose knowledge of the world fit him for London parlors and imperial boardrooms.

Examining such authors as John Locke, Alexander Pope, Frances Burney, Jane Austen and Sir Walter Scott, Solinger's account will appeal to literary historians as well as readers interested in the role nostalgia plays in forging the present.

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The question of what it meant to be a gentleman haunted Britons throughout the long eighteenth century. This period saw the gentleman emerge as the dominant persona of essayists, critics, and male conduct book writers as well as the ideal husband imagined by the authors of heroine-centered domestic fiction. In Becoming the Gentleman, J...

Jason D. Solinger is an assistant professor of English at the University of Mississippi.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:204 pages, 8.5 × 5.51 × 0.02 inPublished:June 27, 2012Publisher:Palgrave Macmillan USLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230391834

ISBN - 13:9780230391833

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Table of Contents

Gentlemen and their Knowledge of the World

The Politics of Alexander Pope's Urbanity

Popular Writing and the Promise of Gentility from The Connoisseur to Evelina

Austen's Fiction in the Age of Commerce

Walter Scott and the Gentrification of Empire

Editorial Reviews

"Solinger's encyclopedic reference to primary and secondary sources make this book a state-of-the-art reconsideration of the period and a valuable resource. Summing up: Highly recommended." - CHOICE "As Solinger so deftly argues, no figure is more central to the transition into modernity than the modern British gentleman. Incorporating facets of traditional masculinity within forms increasingly independent of inherited status and ever more widely accessible through popular literature, the gentleman becomes the lynchpin of modern bourgeois culture and of British imperialism. Tracing the trope 'knowledge of the world' through neoclassical poetry, educational treatises, the periodical, and the novel, Solinger shows how modern gentility increasingly becomes an effect of literacy. Resolutely historical and synthetic in its survey, Becoming the Gentleman illuminates the presence of the past in eighteenth-century cultural production and knits back together the gendered strands—masculine and feminine—of the modern subject." - Erin Mackie, Syracuse University