The Power of the Passive Self in English Literature, 1640-1770

Synopsis

Challenging recent work contending that seventeenth-century English discourses privilege the notion of a self-enclosed, self-sufficient individual, this study recovers a counter-tradition that imagines selves as more passively prompted than actively choosing. Gordon traces the origins of such ideas of passivity from their roots in the non-conformist religious tradition to their flowering in one of the central texts of eighteenth-century literature, Samuel Richardson's Clarissa.