McKee, Anthony Patrick Francis
An anatomy of power: the early works of Bernard Mandeville.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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The thesis takes Mandeville's medical works at Leiden as a starting point. Translations of his first three works - all originally published in Latin - lay the foundation for a consideration of his approach to medicine, medical discourse and the contemporary seventeenth-century debates on Cartesian thought.
From this basis, Mandeville's early English works are examined in detail. His fables are seen to develop the first stages of a complex theory of imitation which is closely related to his medical ideas on digestion.
Mandeville elaborated this theory in three major works - The Virgin Unmask'd (1709), A Treatise of the Hypochondriack and Hysterick Passions (1711) and The Fable of the Bees (1714). Each of these works is examined in the context of contemporary texts and ideas. Taken as a trilogy, the works are shown to explore the problems of the individual in a rapidly changing society.
The thesis argues that in The Virgin Unmask'd Mandeville considers the nature of seual identity and the various ways in which the new consumer society could operate to determine that identity.
In A Treatise of the Hypochondriack and Hysterick Passions, it is shown that Mandeville continues his exploration of the effects of consumerism on the individual. In this text, however, he is concerned with consumption in both its literal and metaphorical dimensions as he fully develops the medical theories on digestion which he had begun to consider as a student in Leiden.
Finally, Mandeville's first edition of The Fable of the Bees is examined in the light of his medical works and his interest in the nature of consumerism.
Through the readings of each of these texts it is shown how Mandeville uses both the dialogue form and the `Remarks' of The Fable of the Bees to equip the reader with a set of interpretative tools. By using his chosen literary forms to question the notions of `knowledge' and `ignorance', he offers a perspective from which to `anatomize' the structures of power that were beginning to take shape in early eighteenth-century England.
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