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Eighteenth-Century Fiction and the Reinvention of Wonder$
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Sarah Tindal Kareem

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199689101

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199689101.001.0001

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Wonder in the Age of Enlightenment

Wonder in the Age of Enlightenment

(p.35) 1 Wonder in the Age of Enlightenment
Eighteenth-Century Fiction and the Reinvention of Wonder

Sarah Tindal Kareem

Oxford University Press

This chapter turns to early modern and eighteenth-century theory of wonder in order to establish how the eighteenth century reinvents wonder for an enlightened age. This chapter shows how travel literature, Protestant devotional practices, and natural philosophy develop literary techniques associated with wonder’s production. The chapter then outlines a narratology of wonder that articulates how fiction took advantage of these techniques. The chapter locates these assumptions about wonder’s operation and production within the context of shifting ideas about fact and fiction, and “polite” and “vulgar” taste. Establishing, here, a theoretical model for wonder’s operation as well as a historical context for wonder’s prominence lays the ground for the subsequent chapters’ close readings.

Keywords:   theory of wonder, natural philosophy, Protestantism, fact, fiction, polite, vulgar

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