Novel Knowledge

John Bende

in This Is Enlightenment

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780226761473
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226761466 | DOI:
Novel Knowledge

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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This chapter argues that the British novelists of the early eighteenth century adopted three elements of natural philosophy in fashioning their narratives: surrogate witnessing, the contrived experiment, and the induction-based reasoning that could translate the findings of a single experiment into truths of general validity. It shows how early novelists fashioned printed texts into experiments that mediated different kinds of knowledge as a means of mediating the fictional and the real. The tools described both confer experience to the fictional characters and advance the judgment of both characters and readers.

Keywords: British novelists; natural philosophy; surrogate witnessing; contrived experiment; induction-based reasoning; mediation

Chapter.  7475 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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