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Title: Community and the subject in the work of Samuel Richardson
Author: Barr, R. A.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2007
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The novel has often been viewed as instantiating the alienation of the self from society, replacing the involved pre-modern self with an inward-turning ‘subject’. Ian Watt’s influential characterisation of the novel form, and particularly Richardson’s work, is that it is ‘individualist and innovating’. The idea that the novel’s ‘primary criterion [is] truth to individual experience’ has coloured subsequent analysis, which has accordingly focussed on the individuality – that is, the isolation or separateness – of Richardson’s characters rather than their connectedness, or sense of community. This thesis attempts to rectify the individualist bias of previous literary criticism. Through detailed textual analysis of Richardson’s conduct book, The Apprentice’s Vade Mecum, and his novels, Pamela, Clarissa, and Sir Charles Grandison, I provide a re-reading of Richardson’s work which reinstates the importance of relationship in the novel with reference to religious and philosophical contexts. Situating Richardson’s work as part of the reaction against the work of Mandeville, I show how religious ideas underpin his representations of the community, gender and the subject. By using the concept of subjectivity, and the subject, rather than the over-determined category of the individual, I show how his novels act as literary figurations of social practice. I argue that these writings offer a theory of human relations in their focus on the subject and its social duties. Locating and critiquing inadequate, immoral and dysfunctional forms of relationship, they offer a social grammar of obligation, morality and self-sacrifice.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available