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Political Magic: British Fictions of Savagery and Sovereignty, 1650-1750 (Hardback)

Christopher F. Loar

Edité par Fordham University Press, United States, 2014
ISBN 10: 082325691X / ISBN 13: 9780823256914
Neuf(s) / Hardback / Quantité : 1
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Titre : Political Magic: British Fictions of ...

Éditeur : Fordham University Press, United States

Date d'édition : 2014

Reliure : Hardback

Etat du livre : New

Description :

Language: English . Brand New Book. Political Magic examines early modern British fictions of exploration and colonialism, arguing that narratives of intercultural contact reimagine ideas of sovereignty and popular power. These fictions reveal aspects of political thought in this period that official discourse typically shunted aside, particularly the political status of the commoner, whose liberty was often proclaimed even as it was undermined both in theory and in practice. Like the Hobbesian sovereign, the colonist appears to the colonized as a giver of rules who remains unruly. At the heart of many texts are moments of savage wonder, provoked by European displays of technological prowess. In particular, the trope of the first gunshot articulates an origin of consent and political legitimacy in colonial showmanship. Yet as manifestations of force held in abeyance, these technologies also signal the ultimate reliance of sovereigns on extreme violence as the lessthan-mystical foundation of their authority. By examining works by Cavendish, Defoe, Behn, Swift, and Haywood in conjunction with contemporary political writing and travelogues, Political Magic locates a subterranean discourse of sovereignty in the century after Hobbes, finding surprising affinities between the government of savages and of Britons. N° de réf. du libraire AAJ9780823256914

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Synopsis : Political Magic examines British fictions of exploration and colonialism from 1650 to 1750, arguing that narratives of intercultural contact work to reimagine political categories such as sovereignty and popular power. These fictions refigure the commoner as a superstitious savage encountering Britons as civilizing sovereigns. Authors of these narratives use the colonial scene as a political allegory; just as the Hobbesian sovereign or Filmerian king is in some sense exterior to the legal order, so is the colonist exterior to the colonized: a giver of rules who remains unruly. These fictions reveal aspects of political thought in this period that official discourse typically shunted aside or handled differently -particularly the status of the common folk as political subjects, whose "liberty" was often proclaimed even as it was undermined both in theory and in practice. Political Magic traces fictional efforts to manage and reconcile these tensions. These texts repeatedly focalize moments of savage wonder, in which "uncivilized" people stand astonished when first witnessing European displays of technological prowess, particularly gunpowder. It suggests that this repeated motif - the "first gunshot topos" - performs important conceptual work on ideas of consent and political legitimacy. Wonder induces admiration, and admiration transforms the unruly savage into a docile subject. However, as manifestations of force held in abeyance, these technologies also signal the ultimate reliance of sovereigns on extreme violence as the less-than-mystical foundation of their authority - a violence that repeatedly surfaces in scenes of colonial massacre. By examining works by Margaret Cavendish, Daniel Defoe, Aphra Behn, Jonathan Swift, and Eliza Haywood in conjunction with contemporary political writing and travelogues, Political Magic locates a subterranean discourse of sovereignty in the century after Hobbes, finding surprising affinities between the government of "savages" and of Britons.

Critique: "Political Magic finds an intriguing and persuasive through-line in these texts that has not been noticed before and that raises some interesting new points about way these writers were negotiating the idea of civilization"-Laura Rosenthal, University of Maryland

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