What qualities in "The Spectator" makes it an informal essay?

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ladyvols1 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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“The Spectator” was a daily periodical written and published by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele.  The publication was considered the defining standard for informal essays of its era and years to come.  The Spectator contained essays with speculations and opinions about the life going on around the men at this time.  One might consider it the “People” magazine of today, only “The Spectator” was published daily. 


The readers know it is created from informal essays because the qualities used in the essays are standard for an informal essay.  They are written in the first person and based on everyday life and events of the writer.   The essays discuss culture, politics, and current events of the day.  There is a solid structure to the essays but they are loose and entertaining; not a lot of technical terms or calls to action.  The essays, although they have structure, they are not as dependent upon the accepted academic rules required for formal writing.   The essays also contain slang, colloquialisms and humor.         


“I have observed, that a Reader seldom peruses a Book with Pleasure 'till he knows whether the Writer of it be a black or a fair Man, of a mild or cholerick Disposition, Married or a Batchelor, with other Particulars of the like nature, that conduce very much to the right Understanding of an Author. To gratify this Curiosity, which is so natural to a Reader, I design this Paper, and my next, as Prefatory Discourses to my following Writings, and shall give some Account in them of the several persons that are engaged in this Work. As the chief trouble of Compiling, Digesting, and Correcting will fall to my Share, I must do myself the Justice to open the Work with my own History.” (Spectator Vol. 1)

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