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Reading the Body in the Eighteenth-Century Novel

Reading the Body in the Eighteenth-Century Novel by Juliet McMaster
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'A man's body and his mind,' wrote Sterne's Tristram Shandy,'...are exactly like a jerkin, and a jerkin's lining, - rumple the one - you rumple the other.' And by extension, read the one, you understand the other. Eighteenth-century novelists and their readers were used to this principle, and applied it inventively. Physicians read state of mind through physical functions and malfunctions, physiognomists interpreted the soul through the face, actors developed a vocabulary of gesture, painters demonstrated the passing passions as reflected in changing facial expressions; and novelists appropriated all these discourses to make their characters fully legible to their readers.
In her lively study of ways to read the body, Juliet McMaster explores these discourses, in which Richardson, Sterne, Burney, Austen, and other novelists were so well read. By her close readings of Clarissa, Tristram Shandy, Camilla, Persuasion, and many other novels, she equips today's readers to read fictional bodies as their original readers read them, and simultaneously renews our joy in these classics.
Palgrave Macmillan; March 2004
213 pages; ISBN 9780230512023
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Title: Reading the Body in the Eighteenth-Century Novel
Author: Juliet McMaster
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