Novel Relations: The Transformation of Kinship in English Literature and Culture, 1748–1818

Novel Relations: The Transformation of Kinship in English Literature and Culture, 1748–1818

(Cambridge University Press, 2004)
By Ruth Perry

Ruth Perry describes the transformation of the English family as a function of several major social changes taking place in the eighteenth century including the development of a market economy and waged labor, enclosure and the redistribution of land, urbanization, the 'rise' of the middle class, and the development of print culture. In particular, Perry traces the shift from a kinship orientation based on blood relations to a kinship axis constituted by conjugal ties as it is revealed in popular literature of the second half of the eighteenth century. Perry focuses particularly on the effect these changes had on women's position in families. She uses social history, literary analysis and anthropological kinship theory to examine texts by Samuel Richardson, Charlotte Lennox, Henry MacKenzie, Frances Burney, Jane Austen, and many others. This important study by a leading eighteenth-century scholar will be of interest to social and literary historians.

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