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Family and the Law in Eighteenth-Century Fiction


  • Page extent: 232 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.363 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521044288)

Family and the Law in Eighteenth-Century Fiction offers challenging interpretations of the public and private faces of individualism in the eighteenth-century English novel. John P. Zomchick begins by surveying the social, historical and ideological functions of law and the family in England's developing market economy. He goes on to examine in detail their part in the fortunes and misfortunes of the protagonists in Defoe's Roxana, Richardson's Clarissa, Smollett's Roderick Random, Goldsmith's The Vicar of Wakefield and Godwin's Caleb Williams. Zomchick reveals in these novels an attempt to produce a 'juridical subject': a representation of the individual identified with the principles and aims of the law, and motivated by an inherent need for affection and community fulfilled by the family. Their ambivalence towards that formulation indicates a nostalgia for less competitive social relations, and an emergent liberal critique of the law's operation in the service of society's elites.

• Linkage of literature and law (particularly in a theoretical way) is trendy, especially in the USA • Looks at major, widely studied novels, notably the televised Clarissa • Interdisciplinary focus involves social history and history of ideas, as well as legal history and literary theory


Preface; Acknowledgements; 1. Introduction; 2. Roxana's contractual affiliations; 3. Clarissa Harlowe: caught in the contract; 4. Tame spirits, brave fellows, and the web of law: Robert Lovelace's legalistic conscience; 5. Roderick Random: suited by the law; 6. Shadows of the prison house or shade of the family tree: Amelia's public and private worlds; 7. The embattled middle: longing for authority in The Vicar of Wakefield; 8. Caleb Williams: negating the romance of the public conscience; Bibliography; Index.

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