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The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  86 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
John Brewster's landmark book shows us how British artists, amateurs, entrepeneurs, and audiences created a culture that is still celebrated for its wit and brilliance.
Hardcover, 721 pages
Published September 30th 1997 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published May 22nd 1997)
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Lauren
Apr 28, 2012 Lauren rated it it was amazing
This is a difficult book to review, mostly because I don’t consider myself qualified to properly criticize the amount of work that went into this well-crafted, well-written brick (and it is a brick – it’s a read-at-a-table-because-it’s-too-heavy-to-comfortably-hold-for-long-stretches-of-time book). With over 660 pages of narrative, The Pleasures of the Imagination requires commitment (and a bit of insanity) to not only start but also finish. The good news is, it’s completely worth the reading ti ...more
Sherwood Smith
One of my long-term standby books for delving into English culture and literary history of the 1700s. I've slowly come to see that it lacks an even-handed treatment of women, but it still is worth reading.
Jenny Brown
Jan 02, 2012 Jenny Brown rated it really liked it
This book sets out to do something complex and not easily described, describing the way that the commonly shared idea of English culture emerged out of the expanded literacy and economic development of the 18th century, and for the most part does it well.

There are excellent rundowns of how modern book publishing emerged from the older, highly controlled guild version of the 1600s, and an excellent sections on the development of the stage and the musical profession (and amateur practice) in the
...more
James
Aug 16, 2010 James rated it really liked it
This behemoth sat on my shelf for years, but turned out to be one of those nonfiction "let me tell you everything you need to know about this subject" tomes that picks up once you get into it. Brewer wants to hit every aspect of English material culture that he thinks matters (i.e. most of the pretty ones). Some great sections on minor figures of the 18th century.
Ccfarmer
Aug 16, 2015 Ccfarmer rated it really liked it
I admit that I got this book because I wanted to learn more on Jane Austin and that time period. I found the writing humorous and intelligent, which for me was a challenge. Oh dear, I haven't seen words like this since college. Took me a month to get through but I am glad I did. It was so much better than reading the Cat and the Hat for the umpteenth time.
Gramarye
Sep 11, 2008 Gramarye rated it it was amazing
Quite possibly the best cultural history book that I read in 2008 -- A masterful study of the intricate connections and networks that developed English culture in the long eighteenth century. Very informative and highly recommended.
Mike Thelwall
Apr 26, 2016 Mike Thelwall rated it it was amazing
Utterly brilliant and fascinating. A huge book, full of small details of many people's lives and how they fit into social changes in the 18th century. I feel that I understand the social organisation of entertainment today much better for this history of an important century in its development.
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