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Family Fictions: Narrative and Domestic Relations in Britain, 1688-1798 Paperback – Dec 18 2000
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From the Inside Flap
Challenging competing critical claims that the household either experienced a revolution in form or that it remained essentially unchanged, the author argues that eighteenth-century writers employed a set of complementary strategies to refashion the symbolic and affective power of bourgeois domesticity. Whether these writers regarded the household as a supplement to such other social institutions as the Church or the monarchy, or as a structure resisting these institutions, they affirmed the family’s central role in managing civil behavior.
At a time, however, when the middle class was beginning to scrutinize itself as a distinct social entity, its most popular form of literature reveals that many felt alienated from the most intimate and yet explosive of social experiences—family life. Prose fiction sought to channel these disturbingly fluid domestic feelings, yet was in itself haunted by the specter of unregulated affect. Recovering the period’s own disparate perceptions of household relations, the book explains how eighteenth-century British prose fiction, which incorporates elements from conduct books, political treatises, and demographic material, used the family as an instrumental concept in a struggle to resolve larger cultural tensions at the same time it replicated many of the rifts within contemporary family ideology.