By J. Solinger
Turning into the Gentleman explains why British voters within the lengthy eighteenth century have been haunted through the query of what it intended to be a gentleman. Supplementing contemporary paintings on femininity, Solinger identifies a corpus of texts that deal with masculinity and demanding situations the suggestion of a masculine determine that has been considered as unchanging.
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Additional resources for Becoming the Gentleman: British Literature and the Invention of Modern Masculinity, 1660–1815
21 “Knowledge of the world” was not to be attained through the kinds of commodity exchange that characterized the book market but through the more rarefied forms of spoken exchange that took place among gatherings of a social elite. In the end, the successful acquisition of this particular literacy required that one keep company with those who already possessed it, an imperative manifest in the importance that these texts placed on the gentleman’s tutor. In Locke’s self-serving estimation, Politeness of Manners, and Knowledge of the World should principally be look’d after in a Tutor : And that is, because a Man of Parts, and years, may enter a Lad far enough in any of those Sciences which he has no deep insight into himself.
The historical separation between gentlemen and men of learning was not only social and institutional. It was also cultural and sociological. As Steven Shapin explains in his account of the rise of the new science, “[T]he identification of gentlemanly decorum and active engagement in the world provided a sharp contrast to attributions of scholars’ temperament and mode of life” (“ ‘A Scholar’ ” 289). 10 Thus, reimagining the gentleman necessitated revising as well the very notion of learning. How did instructional writers reconcile the pursuit of knowledge with these expectations of the gentleman’s conduct and role within the world?
It permits them to define themselves as the few possessing their ancestors’ virtues and estates, a move that was self-serving but also logical. Ramesey closes his first chapter entitled “What Gentility Is,” noting: “If thou hast a good Soul, good Education, art Virtuous, well qualified in thy Conditions, Honest, Ingenuous, Learned, hating all baseness, thou art a true Gentleman, nay, perfectly Noble, though born of Thersites ” (6). Few sons of Thersites have access to learning, and, as John Locke would argue a few year later, without such access, the cultivation of “virtue” was a difficult task.
Becoming the Gentleman: British Literature and the Invention of Modern Masculinity, 1660–1815 by J. Solinger