Falling into Matter: Problems of Embodiment in English Fiction from Defoe to Shelley
Published: March 2012© 2011
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 304 Pages
Dimensions: 6.30 x 9.30
304 Pages, 6.30 x 9.30 x 0.95 in
Falling into Matter examines the complex role of the body in the development of the English novel in the eighteenth century. Elizabeth R. Napier argues that despite an increasing emphasis on the need to present ideas in corporeal terms, early fiction writers continued to register spiritual and moral reservations about the centrality of the body to human and imaginative experience.
Drawing on six works of early English fiction — Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, Samuel Richardson's Clarissa, Henry Fielding's Tom Jones, Elizabeth Inchbald's A Simple Story, and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein - Napier examines how authors grappled with technical and philosophical issues of the body, questioning its capacity for moral action, its relationship to individual freedom and dignity, and its role in the creation of art. Falling into Matter charts the course of the early novel as its authors engaged formally, stylistically, and thematically with the increasingly insistent role of the body in the new genre.
1. Robinson Crusoe: Discord
2. Gulliver’s Travels: Shock
3. Clarissa: Grace
4. Tom Jones: Cohesion
5. A Simple Story: Dissipation
6. Frankenstein: Dissociation
‘Napier offers interesting readings of individual texts; specialists in the 18th century novel will surely wish to consult them… Recommended.’ A.W. Lee, Choice Magazine; vol 50:03:2012