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Incest and the English Novel, 1684-1814


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Table of Contents

Contents: Acknowledgments1 Introduction: Modernity, Incest, and Eighteenth-Century Narrative 2 Incest and Its Contingencies: Debates in Britain from the Reformation through the Eighteenth Century 3 Beyond Incest: Gender and the Politics of Transgression in Aphra Behn's Love Letters between a Nobleman and his Sister 4 Guarding the Succession of the (E)state: Incest and the Dangers of Representation in the Delarivier Manley's The New Atalantis 5 Moll Flanders, Incest, and the Structure of Exchange 6 Ingesting Incest: Maternity, Textuality, and the Problem of Origins 7 Incest and Liberty: Mansfield Park Notes Bibliography Index

Promotional Information

Incest and the English Novel makes a strong claim that incest is a nexus of patriarchal power that victimizes women, while its representation in the eighteenth-century novel paradoxically offers liberatory opportunities for them. This is a fine piece of scholarship that has no equal, an intricately argued and theoretically sophisticated book that will make a significant impact on the study of the novel. -- Felicity Nussbaum, UCLA Ellen Pollak has written an elegant and savvy book demonstrating that incest lies at the discursive center of modern normative conceptions of gender, sexuality, desire, and social power. No one writing about incest, the eighteenth-century family, or the rise of the novel can do without this book. -- Ruth Perry, MIT The first (and long overdue) full-length study of the topic... Combines a sophisticated theoretical understanding... with a set of rich textual analyses. -- William Donoghue

About the Author

Ellen Pollak teaches feminist theory and eighteenth-century literature and culture in the English department at Michigan State University.


In this imaginative and provocative study, the relationship between gender, incest and fiction is explored through a series of cultural, materialist and psychoanalytic readings of texts. -- Alison Stenton Times Literary Supplement Pollak's remarkable book has qualities typical of the best scholarly criticism: a thorough and assured grasp of the history and current discussions of the topic; the capacity to forcefully assert its own place in those discussions; and elegant movement between close readings and broader implications. Choice Pollak writes with clarity, conviction, and precision; she has authored a brilliant book, and literary studies will be richer for it. -- Alison Conway Eighteenth-Century Fiction Pollak's book is well worth reading for its illuminating analyses of individual novels; but it also does modern women a real service by using these close readings to denaturalize our false, present-day assumptions about incest. -- Eve Tavor South Atlantic Review Pollak succeeds in reading dialectically the discourse of sex, race, and class in the eighteenth-century novel, skillfully avoiding the traps of reifying categories. -- Ros Ballaster Journal of Literature, History, and the Philosophy of History The reading is illuminating, perhaps paradigm-altering... This book should change the way we think about fiction in the future. Eighteenth-Century Current Bibliography

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