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The Temporality of Taste in Eighteenth-Century British Writing$
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James Noggle

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199642434

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199642434.001.0001

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Introduction: The Progress of Pleasure

Introduction: The Progress of Pleasure

(p.1) Introduction: The Progress of Pleasure
The Temporality of Taste in Eighteenth-Century British Writing

James Noggle

Oxford University Press

The introduction describes the tension between two ways eighteenth‐century writing described the temporal dimensions of the taste for beauty. First, there is taste as such, an immediate, momentary sensory response of the mind. Second, there are tastes, slowly evolved predilections and outcomes of historical processes (e.g. modern taste, British taste, Gothic or Chinese taste). The first of three sections, ‘Times Upon the Mind’, shows both how the two temporal modes may be pleasingly harmonized in individual subjects and how in some they may produce cognitive dissonance. The second, ‘The Two Presents’, shows how taste joins the historical present—British modernity—with the intensely present experience of individual minds; even as taste’s temporal divide makes a critique of modernity possible. The final section, ‘The Composite Fantasy’, demonstrates how taste’s two temporalities combine to create aesthetic ideology in embryonic form, while also suggesting how that ideology may be dismantled.

Keywords:   taste, eighteenth century, Britain/British, temporality, literature, aesthetics, ideology, modernity, historiography

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