Volume 53 Number 1
  • ISSN: 2589-4617
  • E-ISSN: 2667-2081



For the modern reader, the sentimental novel has become virtually unreadable. Yet, for the eighteenth-century reader it meant a ‘revolution of feeling’ that can be regarded simultaneously as a consequence of, and a counterbalance to, early modern individualism. Passion and emotion were increasingly valorized because they provided an escape from the isolation produced by the Enlightenment emancipations into an intimate bond between a few self-chosen individuals. The increasing freedom in personal relations, however, implied that an emotional connection could be cancelled at any time. The genre’s swollen rhetoric thus aimed at countering an underlying fear. A careful reading of sentimentalist texts reveals various lapses and slips that hint at this fear. In Rhijnvis Feith’s , it even defines the plot as both characters, at a crucial moment in the story, believe that the other has become unfaithful.


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