English fiction -- 18th century -- History and criticism., Literature and society -- Great Britain -- History -- 18th century., Literature and science -- Great Britain -- History -- 18th century., Senses and sensation in literature., Sentimentalism in literature., Emotions in literature., Sensation -- in literature., Criticism, interpretation, etc., and History.
"This study of sensibility in the eighteenth-century novel discusses literary representations of suffering and responses to it, in the social and scientific context of the period. The reader of novels shares with some scientific observers the activity of gazing on suffering, leading Ann Van Sant to explore in the broader social context - specifically in the display of repentant prostitutes and the children of the vagrant and criminal poor and in certain scientific experiments - the coincidence between the rhetoric of pathos and scientific presentation. Showing that when sensibility becomes central to an understanding of psychology, it becomes the basis for an experimental approach to character, she argues that Samuel Richardson's method of revealing his heroine's heart in Clarissa is analogous to the enterprise of scientists creating and observing suffering in order to study interior physiological functions." "The book goes on to explore sensibility's location of psychological response in physical structures. Van Sant invokes eighteenth-century debates about the relative status of sight and touch in epistemology and psychology, as a context for discussing the "man of feeling," a spectator who reports on "touching" experiences. Focusing principally on Laurence Stern's A Sentimental Journey, she argues that the man of feeling's experience is located in the body - by definition both feminized and physiological, and therefore inherently parodic." "In a further note on readers of sensibility, she examines the relation between focusing on a physiologically defined moment and the fragmented, intensified episodes of the sentimental narrative."--Jacket.