There’s no question that this is what Addison and Steele wished the state to be like.My argument is that it’s also what they wished human minds to be like, in the face of much evidence to the contrary.Tags: The Scarlet Ibis Essay On PridePlato Alry Of The Cave EssayBest Dissertation WritingGood Word To Use For Definition EssaysOcr As Level Ict CourseworkThesis Statement Stress ManagementFuel Cell Research PaperSara Problem Solving ModelStrong Critical Thinking SkillsTerm Paper Obesity
The public sphere constituted the forum in which private subjects came together to exercise their reason: it was an ‘Öffentlichkeit von Privatleuten’—a public of private subjects.” The argument I make in this essay is indebted to scholars like Cowan, as well as Paul Kelleher, Markman Ellis, and Anthony Pollock, who have shown that the interaction between private subjects and public life in periodical essays, coffeehouses, and other key sites of public sphere life was much less harmonious and unproblematic than Addison and Steele encourage us to assume.
But the traditional account of the early eighteenth-century periodical essay is worth repeating because it summarizes what a particular group of essayists, including Addison and Steele, were attempting, sometimes through coercive rhetorical strategies.
This is the paradox that Jonathan Swift addresses in his early essays.
My argument is that Swift’s stylistic dissimilarity to Addison’s and Steele’s essays of the same period should alert us to the fact that the essays of Swift, Addison, and Steele were in self-conscious debate about the nature of interiority and its relation to the essay form.
Its stylistic signature was a roughness and sense of spontaneity that communicated the reality of a mind in thought.
Croll offers wonderful descriptions of what it feels like to encounter the speaking voices of the great seventeenth-century personal essayists in the period of Montaigne and Bacon, arguing that their style “renders the process of thought and portrays the picturesque actuality of life with equal effect and constantly relates the one to the other.” Croll eventually settled on the term “Baroque” rather than “Attic” to describe the new essayistic style because, in the words of his posthumous editor, “Baroque” connotes “exactly the suggestions he wanted of the human mind struggling bravely with resistant masses of thought, and producing in the effort masterpieces of asymmetric design.” One implication of Croll’s arguments, crucial for understanding the eighteenth-century essay, is that the form depicts individual minds in the process of struggle—and that in spite of the struggle they are able to create masterpieces of intellectual coherence and emotional power.(Nutt didn’t register the copyright for the Tatler until May 1710, evidently thinking it wouldn’t succeed.) Steele’s speaking persona in the first issues of the paper was Isaac Bickerstaff, a name taken from Swift, who had used the character in a literary hoax of 1708, when Bickerstaff had predicted the death of the superstitious almanac maker John Partridge.The Tatler, in other words, is closely connected to the trenchantly political, polemical style and sensibility for which Swift was famous after A Tale of a Tub, the publication with which the newspaper shared its publishing lineage.The Spectator started in March 1711 and ran until 1712.The essays, addressing aspects of civic, social, and cultural life in London, were sophisticated, polished, and metropolitan, often written under the guise of various eccentric urban personas but never giving way to real eccentricity or abandoning the suave, controlled style that readers would recognize as belonging to Richard Steele and Joseph Addison.The speaking voices in early eighteenth-century essays tend to be at once personal and impersonal: the intimate, quotidian, occasionally even confessional style we encounter in the Tatler, the Spectator, and elsewhere is paradoxically a sign of a large, anonymous audience.In 1711 Joseph Addison summarized the intimate impersonality of the new periodical essay in the Spectator when he referred to “the Pains I am at in qualifying what I write after such a manner, that nothing may be interpreted as aimed at private Persons.” His topics were oriented to the preoccupations of an aspirational urban middle class and eschewed gossip, politics, and high society: “my Paper has not in it a single Word of News, a Reflection in Politics, nor a Stroak of Party;…In this article I discuss three early essays by Jonathan Swift.I argue that Swift resisted Addison’s Whig journalism precisely because of its confidence in speaking about and on behalf of people’s personal, individuated selves.Swift is agitated and immoderate, often spiteful, always writing in a verbose, self-undermining style that doubles and redoubles back on itself until its sense is all but lost.Swift’s essays communicate their author’s conviction that, as Fish writes of Bacon, “the mind has the role of villain”—but unlike Bacon, Swift appears to consider humiliation and punishment, not rehabilitation, the appropriate responses to cognitive wrongdoing.