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Latitudinarianism and Didacticism in Eighteenth-Century Literature

Moral Theology in Fielding, Sterne, and Goldsmith

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Patrick Müller

The relationship between Latitudinarian moral theology and eighteenth-century literature has been much debated among scholars. However, this issue can only be tackled if the exact objectives of the Latitudinarians’ moral theology are clearly delineated. In doing so, Patrick Müller unveils the intricate connection between the didactic bias of Latitudinarianism and the resurgent interest in didactic literary genres in the first half of the eighteenth century. His study sheds new light on the complex and contradictory reception of the Latitudinarians’ controversial theses in the work of three of the major eighteenth-century novelists: Henry Fielding, Laurence Sterne, and Oliver Goldsmith.
Contents: Latitudinarian Moral Theology – The Moralization of Literature, Poetic Justice, and Sentimentalism – The Moral Purpose of Henry Fielding’s Art – The Comedy of Human Imperfection in Laurence Sterne – Oliver Goldsmith and the Literary Uses of Religion.