Concealing the Eighteenth-Century Self
In Privacy, Patricia Meyer Spacks explores eighteenth-century concerns about privacy and the strategies people developed to avoid public scrutiny and social pressure. She examines, for instance, the way people hid behind common rules of etiquette to mask their innermost feelings and how, in fact, people were taught to employ such devices. She considers the erotic overtones that privacy aroused in its suppression of deeper desires. And perhaps most important, she explores the idea of privacy as a societal threat—one that bred pretense and hypocrisy in its practitioners. Through inspired readings of novels by Defoe, Richardson, Fielding, and Sterne, along with a penetrating glimpse into diaries, autobiographies, poems, and works of pornography written during the period, Spacks ultimately shows how writers charted the imaginative possibilities of privacy and its social repercussions.
Finely nuanced and elegantly conceived, Spacks's new work will fascinate anyone who has relished concealment or mourned its recent demise.
2. Privacies of Reading
3. The Performance of Sensibility
4. Privacy, Dissimulation, and Propriety
5. Private Conversations
6. Exposures: Sex, Privacy, and Sensibility
7. Trivial Pursuits
8. Privacy as Enablement
“This provocative and stimulating study is a welcome and pertinent addition to scholarship on eighteenth-century interiority. Spacks foregrounds the unknowability of the self which was and remains a source of anxiety and fascination.”
Choice Magazine: CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title Awards