Eighteenth-century England saw an explosion of writings about deviance. In literature, in the law, and in the press, writers returned again and again to the question of crime and criminals.
While the extension of the legal system formalised the power of the state to categorise and punish ‘deviance’, writers repeatedly confronted the problematic nature of legal authority and the unstable idea of ‘the criminal’. Some of this commentary was supportive, some was subversive and resistant, uncovering the complexity of issues the law sought to ignore.
Originally published in 1991, Ian Bell’s masterly investigation of the diverse representations of crime and legality in the Augustan period ranges widely across the contemporary press, involving court reports, philosophical writings, periodicals, biographies, pornography and polemics. Re-assessing the canonical texts of eighteenth-century ‘Literature’, Bell situates the work of Defoe, Hogarth, Gay, Swift, Pope, Richardson and Fielding in its social and political context.
Acknowledgements. Introduction: Buttock and Twang 1. Literature/Crime/Society 2. Representing the Criminal 3. The Harlot’s Progress 4. Satire’s Rough Music 5. Fielding and the Discipline of Fiction 6. Postscript: Buttock and File. Notes. Index.
This 13 volume set contains titles, originally published between 1949 and 1991. Focusing on eighteenth-century England it includes titles which examine novels, drama and poetry from the time. There are titles that discuss the literature in a historical, sociological and political context as well as from a feminist perspective. Other texts look at the language and structure used in literature and how it has evolved over time. This collection will be of interest to students of literature and literary theory.