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‘Men whose glory it is to be known’: Godwin, Bentham, and the London Corresponding Society

Coulombeau, Sophie 2014. ‘Men whose glory it is to be known’: Godwin, Bentham, and the London Corresponding Society. Nineteenth-Century Prose 41 (2) , pp. 277-312.

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Abstract

This essay addresses the circulation and mutation of the personal name in Godwin’s Caleb Williams, and considers the relationship between notions of the ‘name’ as a unit of orally or verbally transmitted language and as a publicly-constructed and contested reputation. Arguing that the narrative tempo of Caleb Williams is controlled by pivotal moments at which Caleb’s name is exposed, modified, or concealed, I read Godwin’s novel as a consideration of the name’s potential to act as either disciplinary or emancipatory apparatus. I locate the novel within a network of broadly contemporary discourses that also address the relationship between naming and identity, notably Jeremy Bentham’s Indirect Legislation and the self- fashioning practices of the London Corresponding Society. These texts engage a cultural discourse of anxiety about the relationship between anonymity and lower class crime. They suggest that ownership of the unique personal name benefits men of property, ‘men whose glory it is to be known,’ but that assimilation into group names or titles might prove more advantageous for the unpropertied.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Publisher: San Diego State University
Related URLs:
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2020 15:56
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/76156

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