Making Love: Sentiment and Sexuality in Eighteenth-Century British Literature

Paul Kelleher. Making Love: Sentiment and Sexuality in Eighteenth-Century British Literature
Paul Kelleher
Date: 
January 01, 2015
ISBN: 
9781611486933

Making Love revises current understandings of the history of sexuality from the vantage point of the literary history of sentimentalism. Kelleher demonstrates how eighteenth-century British writers fundamentally reconceived the relations among sentiment, sexuality, and morality. Sentimentalism posited heterosexual desire as the precondition of moral feeling and conduct. Further, sentimental writers fashioned the ideal of conjugal love as an ideological antidote to the theories of self-interest promulgated by Hobbes and Mandeville. Heterosexual desire and its culmination in conjugal love and parental affection were represented as the privileged means for an individual to transcend self-interest and to develop a moral sensibility attuned to the thoughts and feelings of others. At the same time, Kelleher argues, same-sex desire was increasingly depicted as antithetical to conjugal love. Making Love closely examines works by Shaftesbury, Addison, Steele, Haywood, Richardson, and Fielding in order to reveal how these authors collectively reinforced an overarching sentimental ideology: conjugal love becomes synonymous with sympathy, benevolence, and moral goodness, while same-sex desire desire is pathologized as a selfish withdrawal from sociability and even "humanity" itself.

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