This volume provides the first interdisciplinary treatment of the history of luxury. It departs from the now well-worked theme of consumer culture to explore luxury as a concept and cultural phenomenon. Luxury was no less than the keyword of the eighteenth century. New foods and raw materials were brought to Europe from around the world: sugar, coffee, chocolate and tea; dyestuffs such as indigo; exotic woods such as mahogany; and porcelain and calicoes. It was such material novelties that stimulated contemporary debates about luxury, contributing to its emergence as a catalyst and signpost of social and intellectual change. This volume explores the political, economic and moral effects of the production and consumption of luxury goods, tying the concept to contmporary discourse on taste, civility and sensibility, aesthetics and literary genres. This cultural history provides a broadly-based focus on luxury in a series of tightly-linked sections addressing key themes of economic debate, material culture, aesthetic prionciples, luxury as a female vice and the exotic.

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