Friday, January 13, 2012

Nine notable books on The Enlightenment

Sophie Gee is Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in Princeton's English department.

In 2007 she published her first novel, The Scandal of the Season, a comedy of manners set in eighteenth-century London, and a retelling of "The Rape of the Lock." The novel was named one of the Best Books of 2007 by the Washington Post and the Economist and is published in 13 countries.

In 2009 Gee discussed some notable books on The Enlightenment with Roland Chambers at The Browser, including:
City of Laughter
by Vic Gatrell

So finally to City of Laughter: Sex and Satire in Eighteenth Century London, which a reviewer describes like this: ‘Great toppling pyramids of bottoms and bosoms decorate this book, nipples stipple it, and on every page chamber pots and tankards overflow.’

I wanted to put a book in that showed that the Enlightenment wasn’t just about people having big ideas. It was also about people having a good time. And I suppose that one of the consequences of political and social optimism was collective pleasure, and that’s really what this book’s about. It’s about people being libidinous and bawdy and sexually free in a big city. Feeling for the first time that they were living in a modern world. What’s coming across in this book is that the Enlightenment is a period of excess, of luxury, of feeling as though people have more than enough to go round – piles of bottoms and breasts – a celebration of life and plenty. And an acknowledgement as well of the other side of that which is a plenitude of filth and lewdness and disenchantment and poverty and vice. In other words the overflow of the other side of life.
Read about the other books Gee discussed at The Browser.

Visit Sophie Gee's website.

The Page 99 Test: Sophie Gee's The Scandal of the Season.

Writers Read: Sophie Gee (June 2009).

--Marshal Zeringue