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Critical Fictions


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About the Author

JOSEPH FICHTELBERG is an associate professor of English at Hofstra University.


Critical Fictions overthrows the received wisdom that early American sentimental fiction was a form of resistance to the impersonal rationality of commerce. Exploring commercial discourse and fiction from 1780 to 1870, he discovers sentiment to have been the organizing discursive structure of the market in the early republic, determining the character of negotiation and the force of reward and punishment, while providing the pathos of acquisition and contractual compromise. In this year when executive greed has made us notice the acquisitive passions of players in the market, Fichtelberg's insightful study teaches us that there has never been a divorce between the desires that impel commerce and those that bind persons in imaginative communities.--David Shields "editor of Early American Literature "

Ambitious, well-researched, and richly suggestive.

--Journal of the Early Republic

An exemplary study of the early American novel, its cultural context, and its pragmatic intervention in the discourse crucial to the defining of democracy for a new republic. The study is wide in scope and fascinating in its findings--a must read for anyone studying writings from the era of the new republic.

--Carla J. Mulford "Pennsylvania State University "

By finding the analogy between the affective and the economic in unexpected places, Fichtelberg demonstrates that it permeated American culture. In a series of well-argued chapters, he productively interprets writings by Crevecoeur, Emerson, Whitman, Olaudah Equiano, Martha Meredith Read, Isaac Mitchell, and Nathaniel Coverly.

--American Literature

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