Desire and Domestic Fiction: A Political History of the Novel

Paperback | February 1, 1989

byNancy Armstrong

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Desire and Domestic Fiction argues that far from being removed from historical events, novels by writers from Richardson to Woolf were themselves agents of the rise of the middle class. Drawing on texts that range from 18th-century female conduct books and contract theory to modernpsychoanalytic case histories and theories of reading, Armstrong shows that the emergence of a particular form of female subjectivity capable of reigning over the household paved the way for the establishment of institutions which today are accepted centers of political power. Neither passivesubjects nor embattled rebels, the middle-class women who were authors and subjects of the major tradition of British fiction were among the forgers of a new form of power that worked in, and through, their writing to replace prevailing notions of "identity" with a gender-determined subjectivity.Examining the works of such novelists as Samuel Richardson, Jane Austen, and the Brontes, she reveals the ways in which these authors rewrite the domestic practices and sexual relations of the past to create the historical context through which modern institutional power would seem not only naturalbut also humane, and therefore to be desired.

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Desire and Domestic Fiction argues that far from being removed from historical events, novels by writers from Richardson to Woolf were themselves agents of the rise of the middle class. Drawing on texts that range from 18th-century female conduct books and contract theory to modernpsychoanalytic case histories and theories of reading,...

Nancy Armstrong is at University of Minnesota.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 5.51 × 8.27 × 0.67 inPublished:February 1, 1989Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195061608

ISBN - 13:9780195061604

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"[A] very interesting look at the relationship between our political system and the novel."--Robert W. Langran, Villanova University