Women, Love, and Commodity Culture in British Romanticism  book cover
1st Edition

Women, Love, and Commodity Culture in British Romanticism

ISBN 9781138279476
Published November 17, 2016 by Routledge
192 Pages

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Book Description

Offering a new understanding of canonical Romanticism, Daniela Garofalo suggests that representations of erotic love in the period have been largely misunderstood. Commonly understood as a means for transcending political and economic realities, love, for several canonical Romantic writers, offers, instead, a contestation of those realities. Garofalo argues that Romantic writers show that the desire for transcendence through love mimics the desire for commodity consumption and depends on the same dynamic of delayed fulfillment that was advocated by thinkers such as Adam Smith. As writers such as William Blake, Lord Byron, Sir Walter Scott, John Keats, and Emily Brontë engaged with the period's concern with political economy and the nature of desire, they challenged stereotypical representations of women either as self-denying consumers or as intemperate participants in the market economy. Instead, their works show the importance of women for understanding modern economics, with women's desire conceived as a force that not only undermines the political economy's emphasis on productivity, growth, and perpetual consumption, but also holds forth the possibility of alternatives to a system of capitalist exchange.

Table of Contents

Contents: The unfair sex; 'The stock of love': unending desire in women's periodicals and in Letitia Landon's Improvisatrice; 'Take thy bliss'; surplus enjoyment and Oothoon's joy in Blake's Visions of the Daughters of Albion; Beyond Platonism: Byron's Don Juan and the critique of political economy; 'Give me that voice again... those looks immortal': gaze and voice in Keats's The Eve of St Agnes; Impossible things: Scott's Ivanhoe and the limits of exchange; Impossible love and commodity culture in Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights; Works cited; Index.

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Daniela Garofalo is Associate Professor of English at the University of Oklahoma, USA. She is the author of Manly Leaders in Nineteenth-Century British Literature (2008).


'... in highlighting Romantic literature that both unites and decouples desire and consumer culture, Garofalo offers innovative readings that reimagine Romanticism in its engagement with the modern world, particularly its depiction of the feminine.' Keats-Shelley Journal