The Autonomy of the Self from Richardson to Huysmans

The Autonomy of the Self from Richardson to Huysmans

Copyright Date: 1982
Pages: 342
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    The Autonomy of the Self from Richardson to Huysmans
    Book Description:

    Frederick Garber studies in a wide range of English, French, German, and American literary texts instances of the struggle for the self's autonomy during the period preceding modernism. In tracing a pattern that changes from the unsettling of bourgeois conditions in Richardson to the collapse of that challenge in the Decadents, he demonstrates that this period is characterized by a pervasive dialectic of aloofness and association.

    Originally published in 1982.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5518-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. ONE An Autonomy for the Elect
    (pp. 3-32)

    The first letter in Richardson’sClarissapoints out a curious set of qualities in the heroine’s condition, a pairing of characteristics that are not so much opposites as incompatibles. Anna Howe, Clarissa’s lucid and free-spoken correspondent, reminds Clarissa of what she already knows well, that she is a paragon to other women and under increasing constraint in her own household. Miss Howe puts the point precisely, and with an unknowing irony which needs the whole novel to reveal itself fully: “You see,” she says, “what you draw upon yourself by excelling all your sex.”¹ Somewhat later, she adds to the...

  6. TWO Places for the Mind
    (pp. 33-61)

    Lovelace’s references to himself as Satanic are a complex bit of self-examination; that is, though they are sometimes blunt, they are more than facile allusions designed to draw simple responses. He is aware of his position as society’s grand antagonist (he could never be a little one), of his role as Clarissa’s mirror image, and, finally, of himself as self-sufficient arbiter of contrary moral laws. We have seen that Lovelace, like Milton’s God, chooses to be his own context. Though he would never say of himself, as Adam did of God, that he is perfect in himself, he would not...

  7. THREE The Internalization of Energy
    (pp. 62-91)

    Sterne’s Uncle Toby is an instance of another kind of adequacy. He is not only one of the great equestrians of eighteenth-century fiction, a grand master of the hobbyhorse; he is a superior craftsman as well, an expert at artifice. Toby and his assistant Corporal Trim are continually building, destroying, and rebuilding models of cities and fortifications. They follow the real wars in Europe with play wars of their own, exact replicas of the dangerous world across the channel from the surroundings of Shandy Hall. Toby had once been directly involved with those hazardous actualities, and that encounter had cost...

  8. FOUR Egotism, Empathy, Irony
    (pp. 92-121)

    The romantics, it is clear, needed more flexibility than Sterne could give them. This is not to say that any one model could give them all the flexibility that they needed, but that every model had to have useable points to make about dealing with externality. A hampering of flexibility is a hampering of freedom; in effect, the mind’s freedom inTristram Shandyis hampered by the limited space in which it has to work, and the romantics did not want to be so cramped. The romantic mind, as I have noted, needs an adequate context because it has a...

  9. FIVE The Adequacy of the Imagination
    (pp. 122-149)

    The pressures for personal autonomy, for an order of consciousness that is both self-governing and self-sustaining, seemed to be compulsive for the romantics. That state was one of the conditions they could come to in that overall drive to internalize value which was among the defining processes of their period. To those who sought for it, an autonomous order of consciousness meant that the mind had created a system that could supply all of the major conditions it needed to satisfy itself, and that it could do so endlessly, with no help from outside. Consciousness could be as discontinuous with...

  10. SIX Self, Society, Value
    (pp. 150-173)

    The ending ofManfredseems ambiguous because the conditions of conflict are never overtly defined. Who, after all, is Manfred struggling with in the various encounters at the end of the play? He rejects the institutionalism the old priest represents, not only because no one else can tell him what to do but also, he says, because no one else can punish him as much as he can punish himself. In the final scene, with a deftness of touch that blends irony with melodrama, Byron has Manfred spurn the devils in a blatant echo of Satan’s own words. He even...

  11. SEVEN The Landscape of Desire
    (pp. 174-202)

    No one is quite as exemplary as Rousseau, which means that we have to turn to him at nearly every stage in our study of some of the problems of autonomy from his time to Pater’s. That is particularly so when we consider the shape of the self’s landscape, whose contours he had studied, both generally and in detail, with elaborate care. Since that shape became a major matter in the working out of the attendant problems, we shall have to turn to it once again, this time as it occurs inEmile.

    Quite near the beginning of the book...

  12. EIGHT Parity and Proportion
    (pp. 203-219)

    Rousseau’s exemplary conditions were among the finest instances of adequacy, of what it was possible to do when what one wanted, and what one could have, matched in full comfort. His autonomy fit so snugly into its enclosure, and the enclosure offered so precisely what that autonomy required, that all the possibilities of privilege—at least as Rousseau would define them—were thoroughly realized. With him it was rarely a matter of mastering the self in order to achieve these possibilities. Rather, it was a question of context, and though he managed to manipulate context more often and more successfully...

  13. NINE Centers of Nostalgia
    (pp. 220-255)

    Poe’s characters are creatures of enclosure, observers of walls, edges, encircling mountains, all manner of palpable boundaries. In every case the enclosure is a center of value or disvalue: a room decorated with bizarre eclecticism, a maelstrom engulfing the flotsam on the sea, a paradisal valley repeating all the paraphernalia of tradition. His people are within those centers but they are also, fundamentally, the centers themselves, because all of the enclosures are finally images of the self and what can happen to it. His stories are studies of the self’s relation to experience, of how the world within the walls...

  14. TEN Nocuous Nourishment
    (pp. 256-296)

    The major activities of Poe’s characters, what we see them actually doing or suffering, are designs to ensure survival. The differences between Ellison ofThe Domain of Arnheimand the unnamed protagonist ofA Descent into the Maelstromare those between willed and unwilled experience, active and passive engagement, spiritual and literal confrontation; but their involvements have the same radical motivation, survival at any cost. That element of cost is one of the reasons for Poe’s emphasis on Ellison’s extraordinary wealth. The description of the extent of Ellison’s resources is another instance of Poe’s literalness; it shows how much may...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 297-312)
  16. Translations
    (pp. 313-322)
  17. Index
    (pp. 323-326)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 327-327)