The qualities and achievements of eighteenth century English literature have suffered denigration as a result of a prevailing Whig interpretation of literary history. It is the contention of this book, originally published in 1986, that an alternative form of Whig interpretation is possible and even desirable. It has as its sphere of interest the ways in which views on the nature and benefits of political freedom, and various "whiggish" readings of literary history, political theory and aesthetics, did in fact shape literary and social changes through the eighteenth century. Many characteristic Romantic tenets can be seen as springing, not fully formed from the heads of their creators, but directly out of the aesthetic concerns focusing around Longinus, and the recognition of the historically singular nature of the British constitution.
This book studies and analyses the forms such concerns took in several of the central thinkers and writers of the period, and is an important contribution to the understanding of the eighteenth century milieu.
Preface. Part 1: Freedom’s Ample Fabric (a) The Arts and Liberty (b) Freedom and the National Character Part 2: The Early Decades (a) The Third Earl of Shaftesbury (b) Thomas Blackwell (c) Mark Akenside (d) Augustan, Grecian, Gothic Part 3: David Hume – Turning Points. Part 4: The 1760s and Beyond (a) Brown and Sheridan (b) Adam Ferguson (c) Dr Johnson Part 5: William Wordsworth. Conclusion. Notes. Index.
This 13 volume set contains titles, originally published between 1949 and 1991. Focusing on eighteenth-century England it includes titles which examine novels, drama and poetry from the time. There are titles that discuss the literature in a historical, sociological and political context as well as from a feminist perspective. Other texts look at the language and structure used in literature and how it has evolved over time. This collection will be of interest to students of literature and literary theory.