This book focuses on the literature produced at the time of the controversy over Wilkes and the Middlesex elections and by the debate in England over the French Revolution. Writings by Junius, Johnson, Burke, Paine, Mackintosh, Wollstonecraft and Arthur Young among others are examined in order to identify and estimate the effectiveness of the persuasive techniques used by these writers to communicate ideas to their respective audiences. Godwin is also given a new assessment. A view of the extent and urgency over the French Revolution is provided by the chronological survey of replies to Burke’s Reflections given in an appendix.
‘As a work in its own right and as an example of the successful application of literary methods to the understanding of social and political controversy, (the book) has the rare quality of becoming standard on first publication.’ - History and Theory, IV, III, 382, 1965
‘Like many other students of literature, I was introduced to the prose of the 1790s by James Boulton’s Language of Politics in the Age of Wilkes and Burke, a book from which I have been learning for a decade or more.’ - Marilyn Butler
Part 1: Political Controversy 1769-1771 1. Wilkes and the Middlesex Election: A Brief Survey 2. The Letters of Junius 3. Samuel Johnson: The False Alarm 4. Junius and Johnson: The Falkland Islands Dispute 5. Edmund Burke: Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents Part 2: Political Controversy 1790-1793 6. The Publication of Burke’s Reflections and the Subsequent Controversy: A Survey 7. Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France 8. Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man: The Vulgar Style 9. Vindiciae Gallicae 10.’True Morality Shuns not the Day’: Other Pamphletters in Prose and Verse 11. William Godwin, Philosopher and Novelist. Conclusion Appendix: Chronological Survey of the Controversy concerning Burke’s Reflections, 1790-1793 Index.