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Love in the Time of RevolutionTransatlantic Literary Radicalism and Historical Change, 1793-1818$
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Andrew Cayton

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781469607504

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9781469607511_Cayton

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The New Man of Feeling

The New Man of Feeling

Chapter:
(p.239) 8 The New Man of Feeling
Source:
Love in the Time of Revolution
Author(s):

Andrew Cayton

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469607504.003.0009

This chapter compares William Godwin to Charles Brockden Brown, who was struggling to survive as a man of letters in a nation suddenly overrun with speculators, bankers, lawyers, and soldiers. By the early nineteenth century, the eighteenth-century blend of intellectual, social, and economic speculation uneasily embodied in the person of Gilbert Imlay had fractured. Commerce, which had signified, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, “intercourse in the affairs of life,” became strictly economic, the business of exchanging commodities and capital. Intercourse acquired its modern meaning when Thomas Malthus linked it to sexuality; it connoted male penetration of the female body, nothing more. Society became a synonym for public life. Godwin denounced these changes, and not only because he was personally uncomfortable with them. Social commerce was as important to a healthy society as economic commerce.

Keywords:   social commerce, economic commerce, William Godwin, Charles Brockden Brown, society

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