"Davidson has thoroughly absorbed, and carefully selects from, contemporary theoretical writings on literature, language, and society... Summing Up: Recommended." G. Shivel, University of Miami, Choice
Jenny Davidson considers the arguments that define hypocrisy as a moral and political virtue in its own right. She shows that these were arguments that thrived in eighteenth-century Britain's culture of politeness. In the debate about the balance between truthfulness and politeness, Davidson argues that eighteenth-century writers from Locke to Austen come down firmly on the side of politeness. These writers argue that the open profession of vice is far more dangerous for society than discrepancies between what people say in public and what they do in private.