Cultural studies deal with the “sentimental revolution”, the “reading revolution” in the 1700s. This essay explores one theme – male sensibility making men more like women – in two novels: Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year, as precursor to the revolution of sensibility, and Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, the earliest best-seller of sentiment. In Defoe’s Journal, we have a model of reading; not only reception and passion, but the scene of reading, which becomes the means for an epistemological critique of the circulation of information in the metropolis. Pamela, on the other hand, makes much of a man crying. In the visual arts, the “scene of reading” translated into the currency of paintings showing women reading. The scene of reading became a metaphor for the paradoxes of distance and privacy (including the theatricality of the reader reading readers).

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