Luxury in the Eighteenth Century: Debates, Desires and Delectable Goods
Edited by Maxine Berg and Elizabeth Eger
Book forthcoming from The Luxury Project – to be published by Palgrave Press, December, 2002
This volume provides the first interdisciplinary treatment of the history of luxury. It departs from the now well-worked theme of consumer culture to explore luxury as a concept and cultural phenomenon. Luxury was no less than the keyword of the eighteenth century. New foods, raw materials and manufactures were brought to Europe from around the world: sugar, coffee, chocolate and tea, dyestuffs such as indigo, exotic woods such as mahogany, and porcelain and calicoes. It was such material novelties that stimulated contemporary debates about luxury, contributing to its emergence as a catalyst and signpost of social and intellectual change. This volume explores the political, economic and moral effects of the production and consumption of luxury goods, tying the concept to contemporary discourse on taste, civility and sensibility, aesthetics and literary genres. This cultural history provides a broadly-based focus on luxury in a series of tightly-linked sections addressing key themes of economic debate, material culture, aesthetic principles, luxury as female vice and the exotic.
Part I: Debates
Chapter 1: The Rise and Fall of the Luxury Debates (Maxine Berg and Elizabeth Eger)
Chapter 2: Mandeville, Rousseau and the Political Economy of Fantasy (Edward Hundert)
Chapter 3: Luxury in the Dutch Golden Age in Theory and Practice (Jan de Vries)
Chapter 4: Aestheticising the critique of Luxury: Smollett’s Humphrey Clinker (Michael McKeon)
Part II: Delectable Goods
Chapter 5: Furnishing Discourses: Readings of a Writing Desk in Eighteenth-Century France (Dena Goodman)
Chapter 6: The Circulation of Luxury Goods in Eighteenth-Century Paris: Social Redistribution and an Alternative Currency (Laurence Fontaine)
Chapter 7: Custom or Consumption? Plebeian Fashion in Eighteenth-Century England (John Styles)
Part III: Beauty, Taste and Sensibility
Chapter 8: From the Moral Mound to the Material Maze: Hogarth’s Analysis of Beauty (Annie Richardson)
Chapter 9: From Luxury to Comfort and Back Again: Landscape Architecture and the Cottage in Britain and America (John Crowley)
Chapter 10: Vase Mania (Jenny Uglow)
Part IV: The Female Vice? Women and Luxury
Chapter 11: Performing Roxane: The Oriental Woman as the Sign of Luxury in Eighteenth-Century Fictions (Ros Ballaster)
Chapter 12: Luxury, Satire and Prostitute Narratives (Vivien Jones)
Chapter 13: Luxury, Industry and Charity: Bluestocking Culture Displayed (Elizabeth Eger)
Part V: Luxury and the Exotic
Chapter 14: Luxuries or Not? Consumption of Silk and Porcelain in Eighteenth-Century China (Shelagh Vainker)
Chapter 15: Luxury, Clothing and Race in Spanish America (Rebecca Earle)
Chapter 16: Asian Luxuries and the Making of the European Consumer Revolution (Maxine Berg)
Luxury Project bibliography cont:
- Brown, John, Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the Times (London, 1757)
- Leland, Thomas, History of the Life and Reign of Philip King of Macedon (London, 2 vols, 1758)
- Goldsmith, Oliver, Enquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning (London, 1759)
- Thomas Cole, Discourse on Luxury, Infidelity, and Enthusiasm (1761)
- Samuel Fawconer, Discourse on Modern Luxury (1765)
- Joseph Harris, An Essay upon Money and Coins (1757):
- ‘The word luxury hath usually annexed to it a kind of opprobrious idea; but so far as it encourages the arts, whets the inventions of men and finds employment for more of our own people, its influence is benign, and benficial to the whole society.’
- John Brewer and Roy Porter, eds., Consumption and the World of Goods (London: Routledge, 1993)
- Stephen Copley, Literature and the Social Order in Eighteenth Century England. Croom Helm: Lodon, Sydney, Dover, New Hampshire, 1984.
- J. G. A. Pocock- ‘Machiavelli, Harrington & English Political ideologies in the Eighteenth Century,’ in Politics, Language & Time: Essays on Political Thought & History (New York, 1971).
- George Rousseau & Roy Porter, eds., Exoticism in the Enlightenment (London, 1989).
- Werner Sombart, Luxury and Capitalism (Ann Arbor: Univeristy of Michigan, 1967). First published as Luxus und Kapitalismus (Munich and Leipzig, 1913).
- Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class, An Economic Study of Institutions (New York, 1899)
- Kathleen Wilson, ‘Empire of Virtue: The imperial project and Hanoverian culture c. 1720-1785’, An Imperial State at War. Britain from 1689 to 1815, Lawrence Stone, ed. (London and New York: Routledge, 1994).