Eighteenth-Century British Periodicals Criticism: Periodicals And Society - Essay

Albert Furtwangler (essay date 1977)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “The Making of Mr. Spectator,” in Modern Language Quarterly, Vol. 38, No. 1, March 1977, pp. 21-39.

[In following essay, Furtwangler contends that Mr. Spectator, the fictional editorial voice of the Spectator,was a “didactic figure” designed to promote the journal's “identification of moral improvement with reading improvement.”]

Addison and Steele had a very practical reason for creating the fictitious editors of their periodical works: canny self-protection. Neither Addison the rising politician nor Steele the ambitious soldier-turned-Gazetteer could well afford to entertain a broad public or moralize in his own name. Yet from the broad...

(The entire section is 8030 words.)

Reginald Berry (essay date 1980)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Modifying a Whole Landscape: False Humour, Good Nature, and Satire in the Spectator,” in Thalia: Studies in Literary Humor, Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring 1980, pp. 3-10.

[In the essay that follows, Berry examines how satire was used and developed in the Spectator, primarily by Joseph Addison. The critic asserts that Addison felt that legitimate satire must be good-natured, based in morality, and used “for the Benefit of Mankind.”]

A satiric portrait by Pope or Swift is like a thunderclap; the Addisonian method is more like the slow operations of ordinary nature, loosening stones, blunding outlines, modifying a whole landscape...

(The entire section is 6621 words.)

John Dwyer (essay date 1987)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Addison and Steele's Spectator: Towards a Reappraisal,” in Journal of Newspaper and Periodical History, Vol. 4, No. 1, Winter 1987, pp. 2-11.

[In this essay, Dwyer analyzes the moral perspective promulgated by Addison and Steele through the persona of Mr. Spectator. In response to the ethical confusion of English society, this character, Dwyer contends, “attempted to present virtue and contentment in a clearer, basically classical, light in the pages of his papers.”]

In an article written for Encounter twenty years ago, Peter Gay called for a greater appreciation of the role of the Spectator in early eighteenth-century British...

(The entire section is 4873 words.)

Charles A. Knight (essay date 1993)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “The Spectator's Moral Economy,” in Modern Philology, Vol. 91, No. 2, 1993, pp. 161-79.

[In the essay that follows, Knight considers the linking of morality and economics in the Spectator, maintaining that the journal delineated “the workings of ethics through an economic order in which wealth, achievement, and status become public representations of moral goodness.”]

If the influential series of essays produced between 1709 and 1714 by Joseph Addison and Sir Richard Steele emerges from its present benign neglect, it may do so through the concept that periodicals create culture—that if art imitates life, life imitates art with equal...

(The entire section is 8184 words.)

Timothy Dykstal (essay date 1994)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “The Politics of Taste in the Spectator,” in The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, Vol. 35, No. 1, Spring 1994, pp. 46-63.

[In the essay that follows, Dykstal offers a Marxist analysis of the Spectator's role in defining “taste” as an “organizing principle of the public sphere,” in which private rectitude is publicly recognized. In this formulation, the critic contends, taste “rests, ultimately, not on the private apprehension of beauty but on the public defense of it.”]

The basic error of all materialism in politics—and this materialism is not Marxian and not even modern in origin, but as old as...

(The entire section is 8206 words.)

Shawn Lisa Maurer (essay date 1994)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “‘As Sacred as Friendship, as Pleasurable as Love’: Father-Son Relations in the Tatler and Spectator,” in History, Gender & Eighteenth-Century Literature, edited by Beth Fowkes Tobin, The University of Georgia Press, 1994, pp. 14-38.

[In this essay, Maurer explores how early periodicals depicted and defined gender roles, family dynamics, and other social and domestic values.]

The revolution in which the slogan “liberté, egalité, fraternité” was proclaimed began in 1789, but the alliance between the three elements was forged much earlier. Modern patriarchy is fraternal in form and the original contract is a...

(The entire section is 9936 words.)

Scott Paul Gordon (essay date 1995)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Voyeuristic Dreams: Mr. Spectator and the Power of Spectacle,” in The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, Vol. 36, No. 1, Spring 1995, pp. 3-23.

[In the following essay, Gordon argues that the figure of Mr. Spectator, the fictional editorial voice of the Spectator,was designed to be “a mechanism to reform London society,” part of the journal's “disciplinary regime based on omnipotent surveillance and the threat of public exposure.”]

Mr. Spectator seems to anticipate precisely the “Eye of Power,” the voyeuristic gaze which disciplines subjects by observing them, that recent theory detects in social institutions from the prison...

(The entire section is 8940 words.)