Thursday, September 21, 2006

A nice surprise today

A colleague tipped me off to a short but very positive review of my book Hypocrisy and the Politics of Politeness in the journal Common Knowledge:

Davidson romps through the eighteenth century as if it were her own private preserve. Her vast command of its literature and history, itself a source of pleasure to this reader, is put to use in demonstrating that politeness and manners served hypocritical aims, principally the subjugation of servants and women. Davidson places greater emphasis on dissimulation than on breach of trust in her definition of hypocrisy, and she seems to follow Machiavelli's view that in power (dependency) relationships honesty is not to be found on either side. This premise leads her to interesting perspectives on manners and to complex illustrations of the way society develops language to deal with the problem that telling the truth can be uncivil. Point counter point, Davidson pits one text against another to display the eighteenth-century arguments, with Mary Wollstonecraft's shining so brightly that it illuminates gender discrimination even today. This book does not shed any light on hypocrisy itself, however, or why, despite its long-standing bad reputation, it has proven to be so durable and so necessary.

Good, eh? I see that Kris has recently published on hypocrisy in the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, I must take a look. I feel I have not said everything I want to about hypocrisy, but also (as I often think--switching back and forth between modes gives you better leverage on a topic) that next time round I might approach it by way of a novel rather than a monograph....


  1. The best kind of literary intelligence is one that reads everything and loves carelessly. You have that intelligence.

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  3. Here is what you want !!!!!!!!!!!!!!