Conversing with Pictures: The Periodical and the Polite

Brean S. Hammond

in Professional Imaginative Writing in England, 1670–1740

Published in print March 1997 | ISBN: 9780198112990
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670909 | DOI:
Conversing with Pictures: The Periodical and the Polite

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This chapter amplifies the account of the ‘novelization’ of literary culture. It begins by defining ‘the polite’ and considering the ideological work that its various manifestations were required to perform. Professional writers like Peter Motteux, John Oldmixon, and John Dunton played a part in the shaping of polite discourse, even if their motives were those of commerce and profit, and even if they themselves would hardly make membership of the middle class. Others contributed to its formation from a position relatively external to it, like Pope and Swift, or entirely external to it: in the case of John Dennis, implacably hostile to it. And perhaps the single most important negotiator of the polite was Anthony Ashley Cooper, third Earl of Shaftesbury, whose class vantage-point was many miles above it. Addison and Steele were central to its formation, as would be generally agreed. It is argued that they were so because together they had the range of experience and breadth of attitude necessary to meld widely disparate cultural elements into a witty, tolerant, moderate, and highly marketable literary product.

Keywords: writing; literature; polite discourse; Anthony Ashley Cooper; Peter Motteux; JohnOldmixon; John Dunton

Chapter.  19178 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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