My Books

[My books have nothing to do with homeschooling, obviously, but I can't resist telling you about them here!]

The Romance of Gambling in the Eighteenth-Century British Novel  by Jessica Richard.  Palgrave 2011.  Series: Palgrave Studies in the Enlightenment, Romanticism and the Cultures of Print, eds. Anne Mellor and Clifford Siskin.

From high-stakes Faro to lottery insurance to petty wagers, even to the very instruments of the Financial Revolution, gambling permeated the daily lives of eighteenth-century Britons of all classes. Jessica Richard argues that the romance of gambling, its celebration of the chance incalculable event, the heroic achievement against all odds, the lucky break, is foundational to eighteenth-century British culture and as such a central concern for the period's novels. Analyzing works by Richardson, Brooke, Smollett, Henry and Sarah Fielding, Burney, Radcliffe, Edgeworth, and Austen, along with gambling ephemera such as playing cards and games manuals, Richard shows that novelists use gambling scenarios not to tame chance but to interrogate its role in generic form and in a transforming capital economy inspired by and dependent on gambling.

"Richard has constructed a conceptually sophisticated intertwining of historical analysis of the eighteenth-century culture of gambling with a series of effective readings of novels and visual images. This is a fine book on the culture of eighteenth century gambling that speaks eloquently to the stakes of our present time." - Ross Hamilton, Associate Professor of English, Columbia University.

The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia by Samuel Johnson.  Edited by Jessica Richard.  Broadview, 2008.

In Samuel Johnson’s classic philosophical tale, the prince and princess of Abissinia escape their confinement in the Happy Valley and conduct an ultimately unsuccessful search for a choice of life that leads to happiness. Johnson uses the conventions of the Oriental tale to depict a universal restlessness of desire. The excesses of Orientalism—its superfluous splendours, its despotic tyrannies, its riotous pleasures—cannot satisfy us. His tale challenges us by showing the problem of finding happiness to be insoluble while still dignifying our quest for fulfillment.

"Jessica Richard's engaging new edition of Rasselas for Broadview provides everything needed to bring into focus the paradoxical nature of Samuel Johnson's achievement in that slender masterpiece. As this edition makes clear, Johnson penned, against the cultural grain, a willfully anti-exotic 'Oriental tale.' Richard highlights the insouciance of such an Oriental tale in which the main characters—Coptic Christians in Africa—reflect with aplomb on the accidental happenstance of northwest Europe's global ascendance. Through her well-chosen contextual materials, Richard both establishes a background for Rasselas in the conventions of eighteenth-century literary Orientalism and clarifies the manifest singularity of Johnson's classic novella." - Clement Hawes, Pennsylvania State University

"The globalization of literary studies has produced fascinating insights into the cultural interactions between Europe and the East, and Europe and the Americas during the eighteenth century. Jessica Richard's enterprising edition of Johnson's Rasselas brings out the global interests of this popular tale by placing it firmly in the context of enlightenment Orientalism. It highlights Johnson's cosmopolitan universalism, for while embracing cultural difference he reverses the Oriental gaze, and uses the conventions of the Oriental tale to historicize his exploration of human desire and happiness. This new Broadview edition offers an excellent introduction to Johnson's global status." - Greg Clingham, Bucknell University

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