Introduction: The Progress of Pleasure

James Noggle

in The Temporality of Taste in Eighteenth-Century British Writing

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199642434
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738579 | DOI:
Introduction: The Progress of Pleasure

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The introduction describes the tension between two ways eighteenth‐century writing described the temporal dimensions of the taste for beauty. First, there is taste as such, an immediate, momentary sensory response of the mind. Second, there are tastes, slowly evolved predilections and outcomes of historical processes (e.g. modern taste, British taste, Gothic or Chinese taste). The first of three sections, ‘Times Upon the Mind’, shows both how the two temporal modes may be pleasingly harmonized in individual subjects and how in some they may produce cognitive dissonance. The second, ‘The Two Presents’, shows how taste joins the historical present—British modernity—with the intensely present experience of individual minds; even as taste’s temporal divide makes a critique of modernity possible. The final section, ‘The Composite Fantasy’, demonstrates how taste’s two temporalities combine to create aesthetic ideology in embryonic form, while also suggesting how that ideology may be dismantled.

Keywords: taste; eighteenth century; Britain/British; temporality; literature; aesthetics; ideology; modernity; historiography

Chapter.  18924 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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