The Economy Of Character: Novels, Market Culture, and the Business of Inner Meaning

Paperback | May 13, 1998

byDeidre Shauna Lynch

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At the start of the eighteenth century, talk of literary "characters" referred as much to letters and typefaces as it did to persons in books. Yet by the nineteenth century, characters had become the equals of their readers, friends with whom readers might spend time and empathize.

Although the story of this shift is usually told in terms of the "rise of the individual," Deidre Shauna Lynch proposes an ingenious alternative interpretation. Elaborating a "pragmatics of character," Lynch shows how readers used transactions with characters to accommodate themselves to newly commercialized social relations. Searching for the inner meanings of characters allowed readers both to plumb their own inwardness and to distinguish themselves from others. In a culture of mass consumption, argues Lynch, possessing a belief in the inexpressible interior life of a character rendered one's property truly private.

Ranging from Defoe and Smollett to Burney and Austen, Lynch's account will interest students of the novel, literary historians, and anyone concerned with the inner workings of consumer culture and the history of emotions.

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From Our Editors

Exploring the perception of literary characters as "people" with whom readers might spend time and empathize, scholar Deidre Shauna Lynch shows how readers came to use transactions with book characters to help readers understand and distinguish themselves from others in the beginnings of consumer society. 8 photos.

From the Publisher

At the start of the eighteenth century, talk of literary "characters" referred as much to letters and typefaces as it did to persons in books. Yet by the nineteenth century, characters had become the equals of their readers, friends with whom readers might spend time and empathize.Although the story of this shift is usually told in ter...

Format:PaperbackDimensions:332 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.9 inPublished:May 13, 1998Publisher:University Of Chicago Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226498204

ISBN - 13:9780226498201

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Recognizing Characters
Pt. 1: The Economies of Characteristic Writing
1: Fleshing Out Characters
2: Fictions of Social Circulation, 1742-1782
Pt. 2: Inside Stories
3: "Round" Characters and Romantic-Period Reading Relations
4: Agoraphobia and Interiority in Frances Burney's Fiction
5: Jane Austen and the Social Machine
Conclusion: The Real Thing and the "Work" of Literature in Nineteenth-Century Culture
Notes
Index

From Our Editors

Exploring the perception of literary characters as "people" with whom readers might spend time and empathize, scholar Deidre Shauna Lynch shows how readers came to use transactions with book characters to help readers understand and distinguish themselves from others in the beginnings of consumer society. 8 photos.