By J. Solinger
Turning into the Gentleman explains why British voters within the lengthy eighteenth century have been haunted by way of the query of what it intended to be a gentleman. Supplementing fresh paintings on femininity, Solinger identifies a corpus of texts that tackle masculinity and demanding situations the inspiration of a masculine determine that has been considered as unchanging.
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Changing into the Gentleman explains why British voters within the lengthy eighteenth century have been haunted by way of the query of what it intended to be a gentleman. Supplementing contemporary paintings on femininity, Solinger identifies a corpus of texts that handle masculinity and demanding situations the suggestion of a masculine determine that has been considered as unchanging.
Additional resources for Becoming the Gentleman: British Literature and the Invention of Modern Masculinity, 1660–1815
16 In it, Locke represents “the world” as a corruptive agent personified by dissolute, dissembling and insinuating characters. He conceives a successful education in negative terms, by the moral and economic catastrophes it teaches young men to avoid. A good tutor, he explains, will instill in his pupil a knowledge of [m]en, and their Manners; pull off the Mask, which their several Callings, and Pretences cover them with; and make his Pupil discern what lies at the bottom, under such appearances; That he may not, as unexperienced young Men are apt to do, if they are unwarn’d, take one thing for another, judge by the out-side, and give himself up to shew, and the insinuation of a fair Carriage, or an obliging Application.
The man who inherits his “Fathers” and “Ancestors[’] . . Estate” without their “Virtues,” Ramesey explains, is “but a Titular Gentleman at best” (3). Pronouncements of this sort avoid offending aristocratic readers by giving them an escape hatch. It permits them to define themselves as the few possessing their ancestors’ virtues and estates, a move that was self-serving but also logical. Ramesey closes his first chapter entitled “What Gentility Is,” noting: “If thou hast a good Soul, good Education, art Virtuous, well qualified in thy Conditions, Honest, Ingenuous, Learned, hating all baseness, thou art a true Gentleman, nay, perfectly Noble, though born of Thersites ” (6).
The opposition between pedantry and knowledge of the world does not always pit book learning against experience. Rather, these antipodes provided Locke, Shaftesbury and their contemporaries new criteria for organizing and hierarchizing a wide range of printed matter in a post-Licensing Act landscape of textual abundance. Battles of the Books One would be pressed to find an eighteenth-century discussion of what men ought to learn that doesn’t hinge on the question of which texts, disciplines and settings are most likely to provide knowledge of the world.
Becoming the Gentleman: British Literature and the Invention of Modern Masculinity, 1660–1815 by J. Solinger