Reforming Count D’elmont: Masculinity, Sympathy, and Reading in Eliza Haywood’s Love in Excess

Mary Beth Harris, Bethany College
Vol. 38, No. 2 (Fall 2019), 285-311

This article explores the ways in which Eliza Haywood uses reading and sympathy to reform masculinity in her novel Love in Excess (1719). It argues that Haywood, long established as an author of amatory passion, is also a foundational authority on the connection between moral passion and codes of masculinity. In Love in Excess, Haywood transforms Count D’elmont from a rakish seducer to a sentimental gentleman through a narrative pattern that links D’elmont’s masculinity with his sympathetic reading—both literal and metaphorical—in ways that create access points for women’s influence and authorship. Haywood uses this dynamic to create desire in her readers for the new masculinity of the gentleman and validate the moral, sympathetic potential of her own amatory style and literary authority. This essay rethinks assumptions that Haywood was primarily focused on female readers and argues that she sought to dictate to male readers as well

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]