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At the beginning of 1845 members of parliament and newspaper leader writers celebrated the inventiveness and prosperity of Britain while also acknowledging that the ‘Condition of England Question’ cast a long shadow: ‘The people deteriorate.’ Leading writers such as Carlyle and Disraeli explored this question in their writings, often drawing upon documentary evidence in open letters to the newspapers or pamphlets framed as ‘letters’. Private letters also proliferated. Although leading figures in public life had secretaries who either wrote their employers’ letters to dictation or transcribed them in letter or copy books, senior professionals such as judges, generals, bishops and ministers of state, including prime ministers, generally wrote several letters each day, using a dip pen and inkstand while resting their paper – often a quarto sheet folded once – on a desk or table, or on a portable writing ‘slope’ or ‘desk’ when travelling. The letters of Augustus Welby Pugin and Edward FitzGerald provide examples of correspondence binding together communities of friends and colleagues through the universal penny post.
This chapter rereads The Great Gatsby as a novel deeply concerned with the temptations and dangers of fossil fuel culture. After providing an overview of the contemporaneous Teapot Dome Scandal, Stecopoulos examines Fitzgerald’s subtle linkage of the novel’s more precarious characters with petro-modernity. By analyzing figural accounts of Gatsby as oil detector, Myrtle Wilson as gusher, and George Wilson as depleted energy field, the chapter offers an ecologically oriented account of a classic American novel.
The chapter provides an overview of literary predecessors whose influence is evident across Mailer’s work, but perhaps most notably in his early work: John Dos Passos, James T. Farrell, William Faulkner, D. H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, Theodore Dreiser, Herman Melville, John Steinbeck, Thomas Wolfe, and Leo Tolstoy, among others.
‘Miscellany’ is not an ancient genre name. When scholars use the term, they are often vague about the definition and boundaries of the genre, and rely on well-known ‘examples’ that are treated as paradigmatic. Two scholars have sought to define the ‘miscellany’ more closely: Teresa Morgan gave a broad, inclusive definition grounded in the history of educational praxis; William Fitzgerald gave a narrower definition, focusing on the rhetorical characteristics of an elite, literary strand of miscellany-making. Fitzgerald's approach shall be our starting point as we investigate how and why Clement artfully deployed rhetorical tropes, imagery and metatextual observations to thematise his intentional participation in a wider discourse of learned literary miscellanism. But we must also situate his work in relation to particular examples of early imperial prose miscellanies, otherwise we risk lapsing into generalities about an irreducibly diverse group of texts. Plutarch’s Table Talk; Pliny’s Natural History; Gellius’ Attic Nights and Athenaeus’ Deipnosophists are introduced alongside Clement’s Stromateis,as appropriate for comparative study.
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