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Reviews

"Thoroughly researched and densely annotated, this is a book for scholars of 18th century literature, culture, society, and ideas."

"Festa's supple prose serves her well... She is capable both of the judicious concession... and the head-on confrontation."

"Engaging and erudite book."

"There is great originality in this book, and even where we find what oft was thought, it’s rarely so well expressed."

"As a comparative cultural history, Professor Festa’s study offers a sound and especially persuasive argument for researching from the early modern era the emerging social relationships between the self and the objectified other in relation to empire, whether in the sentimental novel or elsewhere."

"Most memorable for unearthing the volatile politics of the sentimental form."

"Festa's account of the shortcomings (and the strengths) of imperialist benevolence in the eighteenth century is unusually deft and lucid."

"Sentimental Figures is, put simply, a terrific book, and perhaps most especially so in the willingness of its author, Lynn Festa, to consider groundbreaking subject matter... in at once theoretically astute and historically nuanced ways."

"A beautifully written and compellingly argued book about 'the margins of the Enlightenment.'"

"A remarkable scholarly and theoretical achievement... original and powerful."

"Extremely well written and very persuasive in suggesting how the discourses of sympathetic identification work to reinscribe various forms of social, gender, and imperial difference. While there are numerous studies devoted to the literary construction of sentimental selfhood in the eighteenth century and a rapidly growing body of work on the genesis of the British empire, no other critic has argued so convincingly for a dialectical approach to the relationship between sentimental texts and the larger sociocultural effects of imperial designs and operations."

"With considerable verve and tenacity, Lynn Festa demonstrates that the sentimental mode in the eighteenth century was inextricable from the colonial beginnings of empire. The flinty lightness of Festa’s readings cannily resembles the subtlety and style of the varied examples she deftly analyzes, from the snuffbox in Sterne’s A Sentimental Journey to the perorations in Raynal’s History of the Two Indies. By documenting how writers during the period ventriloquize ostensibly mute slaves as well as inanimate objects, Festa shows how sentimentalism challenged—and also extended—the reach of empire. By plumbing the complexity of eighteenth-century mercantilist and abolitionist discourses, this study breaks new ground in the scholarship about sentimentalism."

"Thoughtful, witty, and brimming over with insight and information, Sentimental Figures of Empire offers the best explanation I know of how and why the language of sentimentalism became the preferred idiom for both vindicating and critiquing Europeans' colonial activities. Scholars of Enlightenment philosophy, of abolitionism, of the French and British novel will all benefit from—and be moved by—this rich account of sympathy's global travels during the long eighteenth century."