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British Literature 1640-1789: Keywords

British Literature 1640-1789: Keywords

Robert DeMaria Jr.

ISBN: 978-1-119-18161-3

May 2018, Wiley-Blackwell

256 pages


An indispensable reference for scholars and students of eighteenth-century English literature 

This addition to the celebrated Wiley-Blackwell Keywords series explores the meanings of fifty-eight of the most important words in British literature of the period 1640-1789. Professor DeMaria focuses on words used with frequency and urgency throughout the works of most major and several minor writers of the British Neoclassical era, with the occasional reach back to the early seventeenth century for a definitive usage found in Francis Bacon, for instance, and look forward to the nineteenth century to the works of Wordsworth, Austen, and Keats. Through discussions of words such as atom, economy, humanity, labor, machine, slavery, society, and system he reveals underlying assumptions about the way writers of the period thought about the physical and social world. Likewise, considerations of words such as happiness, passion, truth, and virtue shed light on the ethical and moral commitments of the age. Unlike dictionaries and many big-data semantics projects, this book brings forth the ambiguities, nuances, and ironies that accrued to word usages during the period through a heightened awareness of the contexts in which they occurred.

  • Highlights and exposes the salient cultural and literary debates and metamorphic moments of cultural thought
  • Reveals an increase in irony and a decrease in allegorical usage as an important trend in the evolution of literary language during the Neoclassical period
  • Stresses the contexts within which words or phrases appear in order to offer a fuller understanding of their meanings and significance than available from digital databases
  • Draws upon a vast compilation of sources from one of the most transformative eras of English literature

Rigorous in its scholarship and historical reach, British Literature 1640-1789: Keywords is an indispensable resource which scholars and students of British Neoclassical literature will want to keep close at hand. It is certain to become a fixture of most university reference libraries. 

Note on References ix

Short Titles and Abbreviations x

Introduction xii

A 1

Address 1

Admiration and Wonder 5

Advancement 7

Ardor 10

Atheism 13

Atom 16

Attention 21

B 25

Barbarism 25

Beauty 27

Belief 31

Business 35

C 39

Conversation 39

D 43

Domestic 43

E 47

Economy 47

Enthusiasm 50

Expedient 54

Experience 57

F 61

Fortune 61

G 67

Genius 67

God 70

Grubstreet 75

H 79

Happiness 79

Humanity 85

I 89

Idea 89

Imagination 93

J 98

Judgment 98

L 102

Labor 102

Learning and Literature 106

Life 110

M 116

Machine and Engine 116

Man 120

Melancholy 123

Modern 126

N 130

National 130

Nature 133

News 139

Nice 142

Novel 144

P 148

Passion 148

Patriot 152

Philosophy 155

Pride 158

Primitive 163

R 168

Reason 168

Revolution 173

Romance 177

S 181

Savage 181

Science 184

Sensibility 188

Slavery 192

Society 195

Spleen 199

System 201

T 205

Truth 205

V 211

Virtue 211

W 218

War 218

Wit 222

Woman 225

World 229

Index 235