Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-7f7b94f6bd-5bz6h Total loading time: 0.738 Render date: 2022-06-29T16:59:57.144Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

22 - Sentimental fiction: ethics, social critique and philanthropy

from PART IV - LITERATURE AND SOCIAL AND INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 March 2008

John Richetti
Affiliation:
University of Pennsylvania
Get access

Summary

It is among the paradoxes of the lachrymose fiction that bedewed the eyes of novel readers in the later eighteenth century that the foremost exponents of the sentimental mode were also its most cogent detractors. The prime example is Henry Mackenzie, whose much-reprinted The Man of Feeling (1771), with its successors The Man of the World (1773) and Julia de Roubigné (1777), made him the most fashionable novelist of his day. With its trembling alertness to the minutiae of suffering and sympathy, and the plaintive silences of its fractured narrative form, The Man of Feeling is the exemplary sentimental text. Yet Mackenzie was to retire from novel writing in his early thirties, and in an essay of 1785 he gave systematic development to anxieties about sentimental fiction and its ethical basis that had already quietly haunted his three novels. Surveying the emergent subgenres of fiction, he detects in ‘that species called the Sentimental’ a dangerous subversion of its central claim: that by engaging readers' sympathies with misfortune, it could activate, as well as merely represent, ‘the most exalted benevolence’. Feeling had become an end in itself, narcissistically attentive to nothing more than its own exquisiteness. Deploring the inertia of ‘refined sentimentalists … who open their minds to impressions which never have any effect upon their conduct’, Mackenzie attributes to sentimental fiction a ‘separation of conscience from feeling’ which is, he adds, ‘a depravity of the most pernicious sort’. Even in its foremost examples, it cultivates nothing better than self-admiration, and disengages the will from forms of practical action that only less modish virtues – duty, principle – have the power to impel.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2005

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Barker, Gerard A., ‘David Simple: The Novel of Sensibility in Embryo’, Modern Language Studies 12 (1982).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Barker-Benfield, G. J., The Culture of Sensibility: Sex and Society in Eighteenth-Century Britain, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.Google Scholar
Barrett, Eaton Stannard, The Heroine, 2nd edn, 3 vols. (London, 1813), vol. III, p..Google Scholar
Benedict, Barbara M., Framing Feeling: Sentiment and Style in English Prose Fiction, 1745–1800, New York: AMS Press, 1994.Google Scholar
Braudy, Leo, ‘The Form of the Sentimental Novel’, Novel 7 (1973–4).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bredvold, Louis I., The Natural History of Sensibility, Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1962.Google Scholar
Bridges, Thomas, The Adventures of a Bank-Note, 4 vols., London, 1770–1.Google Scholar
Briscoe, Sophia, Miss Melmoth; or, The New Clarissa, 3 vols., London, 1771.Google Scholar
Brissenden, R. F., Virtue in Distress: Studies in the Novel of Sentiment from Richardson to Sade, London: Macmillan, 1974.Google Scholar
Brooke, Frances, Lady Julia Mandeville, 2 vols., London, 1763.Google Scholar
Brooke, Frances, The History of Emily Montague, ed. Edwards, Mary Jane, Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 1985.Google Scholar
Brooke, Henry, The Fool of Quality, 5 vols., London, 1766–70.Google Scholar
Brown, Marshall, Preromanticism, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1991.Google Scholar
Canning, George, The Anti-Jacobin, 2 vols. (Hildesheim: George Olms, 1970), vol. II –40Google Scholar
Conger, Sydney McMillen (ed.), Sensibility in Transformation: Creative Resistance to Sentiment from the Augustans to the Romantics, Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1990.Google Scholar
Crane, R. S., ‘Suggestions Toward a Genealogy of the “Man of Feeling”’, ELH I (1934).Google Scholar
Bruyn, Frans, ‘Latitudinarianism and Its Importance as a Precursor of Sensibility’, JEGP 80 (1981).Google Scholar
Dodd, Charles, The Curse of Sentiment, 2 vols. (London, 1787), vol. I –xix.Google Scholar
Echlin, Elizabeth Lady, An Alternative Ending to Richardson's Clarissa, ed. Daphinoff, Dimiter, Bern: Francke Verlag, 1982.Google Scholar
Ellis, Markman, The Politics of Sensibility: Race, Gender and Commerce in the Sentimental Novel, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.Google Scholar
Erämetsä, Erik, A Study of the Word ‘Sentimental’ and of Other Linguistic Characteristics of Eighteenth-Century Sentimentalism in England, Helsinki: Liikekirjapaino Oy 1951.Google Scholar
Fairer, David, ‘Sentimental Translation in Mackenzie and Sterne’, Essays in Criticism 49 (1999).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fielding, Henry, The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling, ed. Battestin, Martin C. and Bowers, Fredson, 2 vols., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975.Google Scholar
Fielding, Henry, The History of Tom Jones: A Foundling, Bowers, Fredson, Middleton, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1975.Google Scholar
Fielding, Sarah, and Collier, Jane, The Cry: A New Dramatic Fable, 3 vols., London, 1754.Google Scholar
Fielding, Sarah, Remarks on Clarissa, introd. Sabor, Peter, Augustan Reprint Society Publ. Nos. 231–2, Los Angeles: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, 1985.Google Scholar
Fielding, Sarah, The Adventures of David Simple and Volume the Last, ed. Sabor, Peter, Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1998.Google Scholar
Fordyce, David, The Elements of Moral Philosophy (London, 1754), p.,Google Scholar
Frye, Northrop, ‘Towards Defining an Age of Sensibility’, ELH 23 (1956).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Frye, Northrop, ‘Varieties of Eighteenth-Century Sensibility’, Eighteenth-Century Studies 24 (1990–91).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Goldsmith, Oliver, The Vicar of Wakefield, ed. Friedman, A., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981.Google Scholar
Graves, Richard, The Spiritual Quixote, ed. Tracy, Clarence, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967.Google Scholar
Greene, Donald, ‘Latitudinarianism and Sensibility: The Genealogy of the “Man of Feeling” Reconsidered’, Modern Philology 75 (1977).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Guthrie, William, The Friends: A Sentimental History, 2 vols., London, 1754.Google Scholar
Hanway, Jonas, A Sentimental History of Chimney Sweepers (London, 1785), xxix.Google Scholar
Harkin, Maureen, ‘Mackenzie's Man of Feeling: Embalming Sensibility’, ELH 61 (1994).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hawkins, John Sir, The Life of Samuel Johnson, 2nd edn (London, 1787), p. 384.Google Scholar
Howes, Alan B. (ed.), Sterne: The Critical Heritage, London: Routledge, 1974.Google Scholar
Hume, David, A Treatise of Human Nature, ed. Selby-Bigge, L. A., rev. Nidditch, P. H., Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978.Google Scholar
Hume, David, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding and Concerning the Principles of Morals, ed. Selby-Bigge, L. A., rev. Nidditch, P. H., Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Humphreys, A. R., ‘The “Friend of Mankind” (1700–60) –An Aspect of Eighteenth-Century Sensibility’, RES 24 (1948).Google Scholar
Hutcheson, Francis, An Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions and Affections, introd. McReynolds, Paul, Gainesville, FL: Scholars' Facsimiles and Reprints, 1969.Google Scholar
Kelly, Lionel (ed.), Tobias Smollett: The Critical Heritage (London: Routledge, 1987), p..CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kelly, Hugh, Memoirs of a Magdalen, 2 vols., London, 1766.Google Scholar
Keymer, Thomas and Sabor, Peter, eds., The Pamela Controversy: Criticisms and Adaptations of Samuel Richardson's Pamela, 1740–1750, 6 vols., London: Pickering & Chatto, 2001.Google Scholar
Keymer, Tom, Richardson's Clarissa and the Eighteenth-Century Reader, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Laqueur, Thomas W., ‘Bodies, Details, and the Humanitarian Narrative’, in Hunt, Lynn (ed.), The New Cultural History, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1989.Google Scholar
Lynch, Deidre, ‘Personal Effects and Sentimental Fictions’, Eighteenth-Century Fiction 12 (2000).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mackenzie, Henry, Julia de Roubigné, ed. Manning, Susan, East Linton: Tuckwell, 1999.Google Scholar
Mackenzie, Henry, The Man of Feeling, ed. Vickers, Brian, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967.Google Scholar
Mackenzie, Henry, The Man of the World, 2 vols., London, 1773.Google Scholar
Marivaux, , LaVie deMarianne (1731–42).
Markley, Robert, ‘Sentimentality as Performance: Shaftesbury, Sterne, and the Theatrics of Virtue’, in NussbaumBrown, Felicity Laura (eds.), The New Eighteenth Century: Theory, Politics, English Literature, London: Methuen, 1987.Google Scholar
Marshall, David, ‘Adam Smith and the Theatricality of Moral Sentiments’, Critical Inquiry 10 (1984).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mayo, Robert D., The English Novel in the Magazines 1740–1815, Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1962.Google Scholar
McGann, Jerome, The Poetics of Sensibility: A Revolution in Literary Style, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996.Google Scholar
Montagu, Lady Barbara (?), The Histories of Some of the Penitents in the Magdalen-House, 2 vols., London, 1759.Google Scholar
More, Hannah, Sensibility, in Poems (1816), intro. Caroline Franklin (London: Routledge, 1996) –87 (at pp. 182, 179, 180).Google Scholar
More, Hannah, Sensibility, in Sacred Dramas (London, 1782) –90 (at pp. 276, 281, 284, 285).Google Scholar
More, Hannah, Strictures on Female Education, 2 vols. (London, 1799), vol. II, p..Google Scholar
Mullan, John, ‘Sentimental Novels’, in Richetti, John (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Eighteenth-Century Novel, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.Google Scholar
Mullan, John, Sentiment and Sociability: The Language of Feeling in the Eighteenth Century, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988.Google Scholar
Novak, Maximillian B., and Mellor, Anne (eds.), Passionate Encounters in a Time of Sensibility, Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2000.Google Scholar
Parnell, J. T., ‘A Story Painted to the Heart? Tristram Shandy and Sentimentalism Reconsidered’, Shandean 9 (1997).Google Scholar
Plummer, Francis, A Candid Examination of…Sir Charles Grandison (London, 1755), p..Google Scholar
Riccoboni, , Lettres de milady Juliette Catesby (1759).
Richardson, Samuel, Clarissa; or, The History of a Young Lady, introd. Stuber, Florian, 8 vols., New York: AMS Press, 1990.Google Scholar
Richardson, Samuel, Correspondence, ed. Barbauld, Anna Laetitia, 6 vols., London, 1804.Google Scholar
Richardson, Samuel, Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded, ed. Keymer, Thomas and Wakely, AliceOxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.Google Scholar
Richardson, Samuel, The Apprentice's ‘Vade Mecum’: or, Young Man's Pocket-Companion, London, 1734.Google Scholar
Richardson, Samuel, The History of Sir Charles Grandison, ed. Harris, Jocelyn, 3 vols., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972.Google Scholar
Richetti, John, The English Novel in History, 1700–1780, London: Routledge, 1999.Google Scholar
Rivers, Isabel, Reason, Grace, and Sentiment: A Study of the Language of Religion and Ethics in England, 1660–1780, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2 vols., 1991–2000.Google Scholar
Roberts, William, Memoirs of the Life and Correspondence of Mrs Hannah More, 2 vols. (London, 1834), vol. I, p..Google Scholar
Rodgers, James, ‘Sensibility Sympathy, Benevolence: Physiology and Moral Philosophy in Tristram Shandy’, in Jordonova, L. J. (ed.), Languages of Nature: Critical Essays on Science and Literature, London: Free Association Books, 1986.Google Scholar
Rousseau, G. S., ‘Nerves, Spirits, and Fibres: Towards Defining the Origins of Sensibility’, in Brissenden, R. F. and Eade, J. C. (eds.), Studies in the Eighteenth Century III: Papers presented at the Third David Nichol Smith Memorial Seminar, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1976.Google Scholar
Scott, Sarah, A Description of Millenium Hall, ed. Kelly, Gary, Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview, 1995.Google Scholar
Scott, Sarah, The History of Sir George Ellison, ed. Rizzo, Betty, Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1996.Google Scholar
Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper, 3rd Earl of, Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, ed. Klein, Lawrence E., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.Google Scholar
Sheridan, Frances, Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph, ed. Köster, Patricia and Cleary, Jean CoatesOxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.Google Scholar
Sheriff, John K., The Good-Natured Man: The Evolution of a Moral Ideal, 1660–1800, Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1982.Google Scholar
Skinner, Gillian, Sensibility and Economics in the Novel, 1740–1800: The Price of a Tear, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1999.Google Scholar
Smith, Adam, Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, ed. Bryce, J. C. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983), p..CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Smith, Adam, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, ed. Raphael, D. D. and Macfie, A. L., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976.Google Scholar
Smollett, Tobias, The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom, ed. Grant, Damian, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971.Google Scholar
Smollett, Tobias, The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, ed. Clifford, James L., rev. Boucé, Paul-Gabriel, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983.Google Scholar
Smollett, Tobias, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker, ed. Knapp, Lewis M., rev. Boucé, Paul-Gabriel, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984.Google Scholar
Spencer, Georgiana (?), Emma; or, The Unfortunate Attachment, 3 vols., London, 1773.Google Scholar
Starr, G. A., ‘Aphra Behn and the Genealogy of the Man of Feeling’, Modern Philology 87 (1990).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Starr, G. A., ‘Only a Boy: Notes on Sentimental Novels’, Genre 10 (1977).Google Scholar
Starr, G. A., ‘Sentimental De-education’, in Patey, Douglas Lane and Kegan, Timothy (eds.), Augustan Studies: Essays in Honor of Irvin Ehrenpreis, Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1985.Google Scholar
Starr, G. A., ‘Sentimental Novels of the Later Eighteenth Century’, in Richetti, John (ed.), The Columbia History of the British Novel, New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.Google Scholar
Stephanson, Raymond, ‘Richardson's “Nerves”: The Physiology of Sensibility in Clarissa’, Journal of the History of Ideas 49 (1988).CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Sterne, Laurence, The Sermons of Laurence Sterne, ed. New, Melvyn, The Florida Edition of the Works of Laurence Sterne, vols. IV–V, Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1996CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sterne, Laurence, A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy and Continuation of the Bramine's Journal, ed. New, Melvyn and Day, W. G., Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2002.Google Scholar
Sterne, Laurence, Letters, ed. Curtis, Lewis Perry, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1935.Google Scholar
Sterne, Laurence, Sermons, ed. New, Melvyn, 2 vols, Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1996.Google Scholar
Sterne, Laurence, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, ed. New, Melvyn et al., 3 vols, Gainesville: University Presses of Florida, 1978–84.Google Scholar
Todd, Janet, Sensibility: An Introduction, London: Methuen, 1986.Google Scholar
van Sant, Ann Jessie, Eighteenth-Century Sensibility and the Novel: The Senses in Social Context, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.Google Scholar
Wilberforce, William, A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians (London, 1797) –4.Google Scholar
Williams, Carolyn D., ‘“The Luxury of Doing Good”: Benevolence, Sensibility, and the Royal Humane Society’, in Porter, Roy and Roberts, Marie Mulvey (eds.), Pleasure in the Eighteenth Century, New York: New York University Press, 1996.Google Scholar
6
Cited by

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×