Eighteenth-Century British Periodicals Criticism: The Impact And Influence Of Periodicals - Essay

Donald F. Bond (essay date 1970)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Introduction to Critical Essays from The Spectator by Joseph Addison with four Essays by Richard Steele, Clarendon Press, 1970, pp. ix-xxi.

[In the essay that follows, Bond analyzes Addison's efforts in the Spectator to redefine the scope and methods of literary criticism.]

The series of daily essays published by Addison and Steele in 1711-12, from the pen of ‘Mr. Spectator’, ranged in subject-matter from the follies of contemporary fashion to the more serious problems of ethics and religion. From the beginning an imaginary club was devised, with members of broadly varying interests, whose topics of conversation might presumably be drawn upon...

(The entire section is 6050 words.)

F. W. Bateson (essay date 1971)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Addison, Steele and the Periodical Essay,” in Sphere History of Literature in the English Language, Volume 4: Dryden to Johnson, edited by Roger Lonsdale, Sphere Books Limited, 1971, pp. 144-63.

[In the essay that follows, Bateson credits Richard Steele with the invention of the periodical essay but argues that it was Joseph Addison's brilliant prose style that assured the success of the genre.]


The crucial innovations in a literature occur when some sub-literary form—such as the folk-song, the popular sermon, the melodramatic romance, to give three familiar examples—ceases to be ‘trash’ and becomes the vehicle of...

(The entire section is 8024 words.)

Calhoun Winton (essay date 1976)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Richard Steele, Journalist—and Journalism,” in Newsletters to Newspapers: Eighteenth-Century Journalism, edited by Donovan H. Bond and W. Reynolds McLeod, The School of Journalism, West Virginia University, 1977, pp. 21-31.

[In this essay, first presented at a 1976 symposium, Winton examines Steele's editorial direction of the Tatlerand the Spectator. The critic maintains that Steele introduced a number of innovations into print journalism, most notably the letters-to-the-editor feature, which permitted an unprecedented interaction between writer and audience.]

A few years ago the death of the novel was confidently predicted in...

(The entire section is 5143 words.)

Peter France (essay date 1991)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Society, Journalism, and the Essay: Two Spectators,” in Continuum: Problems in French Literature from the Late Renaissance to the Early Enlightenment. Volume 3: Poetics of Exposition & Libertinage and the Art of Writing 1, edited by David Lee Rubin, AMS Press, pp. 85-112.

[In the following excerpt, France discusses the role of the Spectator in the development of the essay form, noting the characteristic “blend of seriousness and ease, Christianity and worldliness” in the pieces printed in the journal.]

[The Spectator points to] a crucial element in the development of the essay, and that is the role of the periodical press. Journals...

(The entire section is 3290 words.)

Maria Lúcia Pallares-Burke (essay date 1996)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “The Spectator Abroad: The Fascination of the Mask,” in History of European Ideas, Vol. 22, No. 1, 1996, pp. 1-18.

[In the following essay, Pallares-Burke describes how admiration for the Spectator quickly spread beyond England, spawning imitations throughout Europe. She also discusses how the journal's influence lasted long after it ceased publication.]

This article offers some reflexions on the reception of the Spectator of Addison and Steele in Europe by focusing on the reforming power and authority it was believed to have at the time. My aim is to make a small contribution to the international history of the Spectator genre,...

(The entire section is 9371 words.)