Chapter

Introduction

Frank Christianson

in Philanthropy in British and American Fiction

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780748625086
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652068 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748625086.003.0001
Introduction

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This book shows that philanthropy became a favoured trope within literary realism because of its unique utility as a site for the working out of epistemological and aesthetic problems. Henry Mayhew's work represents a new expressive mode uniquely suited to promoting the various aims of philanthropy. Mike Martin sees philanthropy as ‘all forms of voluntary, private giving for public purposes’. Alexander Bain's response represents one of many accounts of philanthropy and its sentimental underpinnings penned by economists, social scientists, public moralists and novelists that amounted to a rich and varied discursive tradition over the course of the century. A comparison of philanthropy and political economy as discrete, if closely interrelated discourses, sheds light on the process of middle-class cultural formation as it pertains to the historically changing form of the novel.

Keywords: philanthropy; literary realism; Henry Mayhew; Mike Martin; Alexander Bain; political economy

Chapter.  12094 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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