The Little Everyman

The Little Everyman : Stature and Masculinity in Eighteenth-Century English Literature

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Eighteenth-century English literature, art, science, and popular culture exhibited an unprecedented fascination with small male bodies of various kinds. Henry Fielding's Tom Thumb plays drew packed crowds, while public exhibitions advertised male dwarfs as paragons of English masculinity. Bawdy popular poems featured diminutive men paired with enormous women, and amateur scientists anthropomorphized and gendered the "minute bodies" they observed under their fashionable new pocket microscopes. Little men, both real and imagined, embodied the anxieties of a newly bourgeois English culture and were transformed to suit changing concerns about the status of English masculinity in the modern era.

The Little Everyman explores this strange trend by tracing the historical trajectory of the supplanting of the premodern court dwarf by a more metaphorical and quintessentially modern "little man" who came to represent in miniature the historical shift in literary production from aristocratic patronage to the bourgeois fantasy of freelance authorship. Armintor's close readings of Pope, Fielding, Swift, and Sterne highlight little recognized aspects of classic works while demonstrating how the little man became an "everyman."
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Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 156 x 230 x 18mm | 458.13g
  • Washington, United States
  • English
  • New
  • 17 illus.
  • 0295990872
  • 9780295990873

Table of contents


1. A Visual Prehistory2. The Dwarfing of Little-Man Pope3. The Little Man-Microscope in Brobdingnag4. The Labor of Little Men5. The Little Man of Feeling6. Josef Boruwlaski's Memoirs of the Celebrated Dwarf

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Review quote

. . . a spirited short book, dealing with a pictorial tradition of dwarfs, big men, and little men in caricature . . . -- Claude Rawson * Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 * The Little Everyman offers a chronologically ordered, wide-ranging discussion of the depiction of little men that extends from seventeenth-century ....any reader, from senior undergraduate to scholar of the period, will find much here to think about-little men but big ideas. -- Cameron McFarlane * Eighteenth-Century Fiction * . . . original, enlightening, and clearly written. Summing Up: Recommended. * Choice *
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About Deborah Needleman Armintor

Deborah Needleman Armintor is associate professor of English at the University of North Texas and the co-editor of Eighteenth-Century British Erotica, Vol. 2.
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