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Quite Contrary: Defoe’s Dialectics

Quite Contrary: Defoe’s Dialectics Benjamin F. Pauley Eastern Connecticut State University Robert James Merrett's Daniel Defoe: Contrarian (Toronto, 2013) is an immensely ambitious and frequently absorbing examination of Defoe's methods as a thinker and writer, with an emphasis on the ways that Defoe anticipates and shapes readers' responses to his deceptively artless-seeming prose. The book displays both a deep familiarity with Defoe's oeuvre and a careful and wellconsidered engagement with important works of Defoe scholarship, meticulously recorded in ample endnotes. It is also quite a difficult book to read, and it is perhaps worth first addressing that difficulty before going on to suggest why the effort might still be worthwhile for students of Defoe. Some of the difficulty of Merrett's book is doubtless a function of its ambition. Merrett wants to examine Defoe's works in multiple lights, showing their engagement with questions of religion, politics, and society. These questions prove not only to be entangled with one another, but also with Defoe's sense of narrative and of rhetoric, with his conscious (if idiosyncratic) verbal art, and--ultimately--with his sense of how the human mind works. These are big questions that would be difficult enough to handle separately, much less in their complex inter-implications, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Eighteenth Century University of Pennsylvania Press

Quite Contrary: Defoe’s Dialectics

The Eighteenth Century , Volume 57 (3) – Nov 4, 2016

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Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2010 University of Pennsylvania Press.
ISSN
1935-0201
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Benjamin F. Pauley Eastern Connecticut State University Robert James Merrett's Daniel Defoe: Contrarian (Toronto, 2013) is an immensely ambitious and frequently absorbing examination of Defoe's methods as a thinker and writer, with an emphasis on the ways that Defoe anticipates and shapes readers' responses to his deceptively artless-seeming prose. The book displays both a deep familiarity with Defoe's oeuvre and a careful and wellconsidered engagement with important works of Defoe scholarship, meticulously recorded in ample endnotes. It is also quite a difficult book to read, and it is perhaps worth first addressing that difficulty before going on to suggest why the effort might still be worthwhile for students of Defoe. Some of the difficulty of Merrett's book is doubtless a function of its ambition. Merrett wants to examine Defoe's works in multiple lights, showing their engagement with questions of religion, politics, and society. These questions prove not only to be entangled with one another, but also with Defoe's sense of narrative and of rhetoric, with his conscious (if idiosyncratic) verbal art, and--ultimately--with his sense of how the human mind works. These are big questions that would be difficult enough to handle separately, much less in their complex inter-implications,

Journal

The Eighteenth CenturyUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Published: Nov 4, 2016

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