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Picturing Benevolence: The Picturesque and Radical Charity

Landry, Donna (2008) Picturing Benevolence: The Picturesque and Radical Charity. In: Surdulescu, Radu and Grigorescu Pana, Irina and Oltean, Roxana, eds. Writing the Self: Modes of Self-Portrayal in the Cultural Text. Department of English, University of Bucharest, Bucharest, pp. 87-96. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:20505)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided.


During the final decades of the eighteenth century, when the dictates of Adam Smith's theory of political economy began to take hold, charity became deeply unfashionable. In consonance with Smith's dictates, though conceived independently of them, William Gilpin's theory of Picturesque beauty suggested protocols for representation that excluded the picuring of charitable acts along with other kinds of sentimental narrative. Against political economic hostility to acts of charity and Picturesque reluctance to picture such gestures of sympathy for and solidarity with the poor, some English women writers continued to perpetuate in fiction a mid-century tradition of charitable benevolence. The novels of Sarah Fielding and other women writers of the 1740s and 1750s continued to resonate between the 1770s and 1790s with such writers as Frances Burney and Elizabeth Inchbald. Inchbald's *Nature and Art* is particularly noteworthy and important in its radical combination of charitable benevolence with Picturesque dishevelment. In this fiction of charitable benevolence there is a hearkening back to seventeenth-century ideas of charity as the poor's rightful property and the body politic as properly a commonwealth. We might say that Inchbald, like Sarah Fielding before her, refused to relinquish the Enlightenment grand narrative of human emancipation in favour of the grand narrative of progress, defined ever more narrowly as the progress of capitalism.

Item Type: Book section
Additional information: ISSN 1454-9328
Subjects: P Language and Literature
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
Depositing User: Kate Smith
Date Deposited: 27 Jul 2009 11:15 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 09:58 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Landry, Donna.

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