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Vol 21 No 9 Sept/Oct 2016

Book of the Month

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Goode on Commercial Law

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Eighteenth-Century Fiction and the Law of Property

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ISBN13: 9780521024594
ISBN: 0521024595
Published: June 2006
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Paperback
Price: £29.99

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In Eighteenth-Century Fiction and the Law of Property, Wolfram Schmidgen draws on legal and economic writings to analyse the description of houses, landscapes, and commodities in eighteenth-century fiction. His study argues that such descriptions are important to the British imagination of community. By making visible what it means to own something, they illuminate how competing concepts of property define the boundaries of the individual, of social community, and of political systems.

In this way, Schmidgen recovers description as a major feature of eighteenth-century prose, and he makes his case across a wide range of authors, including Daniel Defoe, Henry Fielding, William Blackstone, Adam Smith, and Ann Radcliffe. The book's most incisive theoretical contribution lies in its careful insistence on the unity of the human and the material: in Schmidgen's argument, persons and things are inescapably entangled. This approach produces fresh insights into the relationship between law, literature, and economics.

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Legal History
1. Communal form and the transitional culture of the eighteenth-century novel
2. Terra nullius, cannibalism, and the natural law of appropriation in Robinson Crusoe
3. Henry Fielding's common law of plenitude
4. Commodity fetishism in heterogeneous spaces
5. Ann Radcliffe and the political economy of Gothic space
6. Scottish law and Waverley's museum of property