Bernard Mandeville Criticism - Essay

Hector Monro (essay date 1975)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Monro, Hector. “The Two Mandevilles” and “The Real Mandeville?” In The Ambivalence of Bernard Mandeville, pp. 1-24; 249-67. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975.

[In the following essays, Monro discusses two very contradictory but equally plausible interpretations of Mandeville and finds such ambiguity consistent with the philosophical view evident throughout his work that the world is ultimately indefinable and unknowable.]


Mandeville is not an obscure writer, but it has nevertheless been found possible to interpret him in two diametrically opposed ways. On one view, he is a pious Christian, an ascetic, and an...

(The entire section is 16761 words.)

M. R. Jack (essay date 1975)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Jack, M. R. “Religion and Ethics in Mandeville.” In Mandeville Studies: New Explorations in the Art and Thought of Dr. Bernard Mandeville (1670-1733), edited by Irwin Primer, pp. 34-42. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1975.

[In the following essay, Jack examines Mandeville's “naturalistic” view of religion and ethics as having psychological rather than theological bases.]

At the beginning of his full-length work on religion entitled Free Thoughts on Religion, the Church, and National Happiness, Mandeville defines religion as “an Acknowledgment of an Immortal Power.”1 He later says that “Men of Sense, and good Logicians” have...

(The entire section is 4059 words.)

Robert H. Hopkins (essay date 1975)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Hopkins, Robert H. “The Cant of Social Compromise: Some Observations on Mandeville's Satire.” In Mandeville Studies: New Explorations in the Art and Thought of Dr. Bernard Mandeville (1670-1733), edited by Irwin Primer, pp. 168-92. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1975.

[In the following essay, Hopkins argues that, despite the attacks of many of his contemporaries, Mandeville in his satires was censuring many of the same things they were, stressing “how much in common Mandeville had with some of his illustrious adversaries in attacking the same satiric targets.”]

Let any Man observe the Equipages in this Town; he shall find the greater...

(The entire section is 11366 words.)

Louis Schneider (essay date 1987)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Schneider, Louis. “Bernard Mandeville: Observations in Lieu of a Biography.” In Paradox and Society: The Work of Bernard Mandeville. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Books, 1987, pp. 29-66.

[In the following essay, Schneider, provides an outline of Mandeville's life, thought, and literary activity.]

Material for a life of Mandeville is scant and a biography of him of any considerable scale is not feasible. One may make certain inferences about his character or personal traits from his work. Although this is a somewhat precarious enterprise, it is not entirely unrewarding. The effort to discover something of his character also will suggest intellectual...

(The entire section is 16791 words.)

M. M. Goldsmith (essay date 1992)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Goldsmith, M. M. “Bernard Mandeville and the Virtues of the Dutch.” Dutch Crossing 48 (autumn 1992): 20-38.

[In the following essay, Goldsmith discusses the impact that Mandeville's Dutch heritage may have had on his viewpoints, literary style, and subject matter.]

Little is known about the life of Bernard Mandeville (1670-1733), author of The Fable of the Bees: or Private Vices, Publick Benefits. Until recently all that was available concerning that part of his life which he spent in his native Holland was a few bald facts about his family background and his education. He was baptized in Rotterdam on 20 November 1670.1 His...

(The entire section is 6941 words.)

E. G. Hundert (essay date 1994)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Hundert, E. G. “A World of Goods.” In The Enlightenment's Fable: Bernard Mandeville and the Discovery of Society, pp. 175-218. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

[In the following essay, Hundert examines Mandeville's “unsettling observation” throughout his satires “that the technical operations of the market could be seen to govern even the most intimate aspects of civilized living.”]

When, early in his literary career, Mandeville wrote The Grumbling Hive, he satirized his contemporaries for trumpeting their commitment to classical or Christian ideals of virtue while glorying in recent English prosperity. Employing the beehive as a...

(The entire section is 17617 words.)

J. A. W. Gunn (essay date 2000)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Gunn, J. A. W. “‘State Hypochondriacks’ Dispraised: Mandeville versus the Active Citizen.” In Mandeville and Augustan Ideas: New Essays, edited by Charles W. A. Prior, pp. 16-34. Victoria, Canada: English Literary Studies, University of Victoria, 2000.

[In the following essay, Gunn analyzes Mandeville's distanced and detached perspective on public affairs.]

Mandeville as a thinker has always resisted easy labelling; were this not so, his place as a continuing focus for scholarly attention would be less easy to understand. Especially susceptible to exaggeration and plain misreading is his role as the apparent advocate of individual self-seeking. As I...

(The entire section is 8295 words.)

M. M. Goldsmith (essay date 2000)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Goldsmith, M. M. “Mandeville's Pernicious System.” In Mandeville and Augustan Ideas: New Essays, edited by Charles W. A. Prior, pp. 71-84. Victoria, Canada: English Literary Studies, University of Victoria, 2000.

[In the following essay, Goldsmith analyzes the validity of the claims by his detractors that Mandeville was promoting immorality and irreligion in The Fable of the Bees.]

Bernard Mandeville's The Fable of the Bees caught the attention of virtually every thinker of note in the eighteenth century.1 The book was widely attacked for irreligion and immorality; contemporary periodicals commented on the stir it made.2 When...

(The entire section is 6047 words.)

M. M. Goldsmith (essay date 2002)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Goldsmith, M. M. “Private Vices.” In Private Vices, Public Benefits: Bernard Mandeville's Social and Political Thought, second ed., pp. 33-49. Cybereditions, 2002.

[In the following excerpt, Goldsmith analyzes Mandeville's theory of society, which “justified the activities of those who sought only their private good or pleasure—what many called vice.”]

But something could be said against the ideology of public virtue. And it was, by Bernard Mandeville, an immigrant Dutch physician who had settled in London.1

Mandeville began his literary career writing verses. His first published work seems to have been The...

(The entire section is 8284 words.)