Defoe's Writings and Manliness is a timely intervention in Defoe studies and in the study of masculinity in eighteenth-century literature more generally. Arguing that Defoe's writings insistently returned to the issues of manliness and its contrary, effeminacy, this book reveals how he drew upon a complex and diverse range of discourses through which masculinity was discussed in the period. It is for this reason that this book crosses over and moves between modern paradigms for the analysis of eighteenth-century masculinity to assess Defoe's men. A combination of Defoe's clarity of vision, a spirit of contrariness and a streak of moral didacticism resulted in an idiosyncratic and restless testing of the forces surrounding his period's ideas of manliness. Defoe's men are men, but they are never unproblematically so: they display a contrariness which indicates that a failure of manliness is never very far away.
'Stephen Gregg's fine study recovers the full range of attitudes and sources that fed Defoe's complex vision of masculinity and delivers one of the more unflinching examinations of Defoe's unnerving ability to get mileage out of contradiction and perversity. This is a highly welcome contribution to the gradually growing canon of books about Defoe and gender.' Wolfram Schmidgen, Washington University, USA ’Stephen H. Gregg has written a timely and much-needed study of Daniel Defoe… By the end of the study a reader feels that he or she has been in the company of a scholar steeped in the work of Daniel Defoe. … Gregg has offered us a breath-taking and comprehensice grasp of Defoe […] and the very complexity of his argument means that it will be able to shape our thinking about Defoe for some time to come.’ Digital Defoe 'In showing the varieties of manliness that Defoe engages in his writings, Gregg has broadened our understanding of both Defoe and the intricacies of eighteenth-century maleness in some provocative and persuasive ways. This well-written study is shrewd in its assessments, theoretically sophisticated, and wide-ranging in its use of literary and cultural evidence.' Eighteenth-Century Fiction 'Sketching a broad canvas beyond Defoe’s texts, Gregg demonstrates eloquently that ’manliness is shaped by the intermittent tensions and fitful syntheses between a variety of contrary forces in Defoe’s writings: between, for example, commerce and civic humanism; Christian and Classical virtue; patriarchy and companionate marriage; gentility and gentlemanliness; or between private friendship and public spirit’.' Notes and Queries