Eliza Haywood’s Progress through the Passions
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Eliza Haywood (1693?-1756) was a popular and prolific author of early eighteenth-century Britain. Noted by one of her earliest critics as ‘the Great Arbitress of Passion’1 and some of her most recent as the ‘Fair Philosopher’,2 she successfully synthesises both of these authorial personas throughout her oeuvre.3 This chapter argues that Haywood’s sustained and specific discussion of feeling in her fiction theorises emotions in narrative form; her novels effectively demonstrate how the intersection of philosophy and narrative provide authentic representations of private emotion in a public format. As a significant place to explore, plan, and test emotional theories of sentiment, sensibility, and sociability, the emergent novel may be one of the most dynamic modes of eighteenth-century print culture. Fiction can explore emotions from first-person accounts and comment on characters through third-person omniscience, so it is one of the few genres in which philosophy, personal experience, and critical analysis can occur simultaneously. By examining two of her texts, Reflections on the Various Effects of Love (1726) and Life’s Progress through the Passions; or the Adventures of Natura (1748), I show that, over this 22-year span, she explores a discourse for the passions — what I call an ethics of emotion — in a fictional narrative form.
KeywordsEighteenth Century Virtual Community Narrative Form Passionate Experience Modern Thinker
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