Periodical Essay By Joseph Addison

In a general sense, the term “periodical essays” may be applied to any grouping of essays that appear serially.Charles Dickens once referred to himself as a “periodical essayist,” and various 20th-century columnists whose syndicated work appears with some frequency might be given this designation.Two months later, under the joint editorship of Addison and Steele, the first number of the appeared.Published every day, it ran for 555 numbers (the last issue appeared on Dec. Although its circulation was small by modern standards, it was read by many important people and exercised a wide influence. Their purpose was, in their words, to bring "Philosophy out of Closets and Libraries, Schools and Colleges, to dwell in Clubs and Assemblies, at Tea-Tables, and in Coffee-Houses." Some of the essays are concerned with literary and philosophical questions; others comment on good manners and bad, life in the country and in the town.w=215" data-large-file=" w=215" class="alignleft size-thumbnail wp-image-2044" title="cropped-aldous_huxley2.jpg" src=" w=150&h=104" alt="cropped-aldous_huxley2.jpg" width="150" height="104" srcset=" The English essayist and politician Joseph Addison (1672-1719) founded the "Spectator" periodical with Sir Richard Steele.Ephraim Chambers’ entry on the essay in his Cyclopaedia (1728) refers to “sudden, occasional Reflexions, which are to be wrote much at the Rate, and in the Manner a Man thinks…” A third factor contributing to the popularity of this form was the 18th-century fondness for pseudonymous writing—the adoption of fictitious personae appropriate to the expression of particular views.

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He was educated at the Charterhouse, an important boarding school, and then at Oxford, where he received a bachelor's degree in 1691.Unlike their contemporary Defoe, whose Review of the Affairs of France (1704–13) moved to more general cultural topics from a central engagement with political issues, Addison and Steele devoted themselves to matters of style, fashion, behavior, opinion, and manners characteristic of middle-class life; it was this rapidly growing and prospering audience that established so solid a readership for periodical essays in several successive generations.A listing of the most successful and influential 18th-century periodical essays would be a very long one.One record of his travels is his long poem In 1703 Addison returned to England to find that the Whigs, the party with which he had allied himself, were out of power.But his poem on the Battle of Blenheim won him an appointment as commissioner of appeal in excise.When the popularity of the form was at its height in the middle and later years of the century, the leading series included: Henry Fielding’s Covent Garden Journal (1752); Samuel Johnson’s Rambler (1750–52) and Idler (1758–60); John Hawkesworth’s Adventurer (1752–54), to which Johnson also contributed; the World (1753–56), which Edward Moore conducted in collaboration with Horace Walpole, the Earl of Chesterfield, and Richard Owen Cambridge; the Connoisseur (1754–56) of Coleman and Thornton; Oliver Goldsmith’s “Chinese Letters” in the Public Ledger (1760), which he published separately as The Citizen of the World two years later; and Henry Mackenzie’s Mirror (1779–80) and Lounger (1785–87).One measure of the popularity of periodical essays was the emergence of an entirely new and separate periodical form, designed to allow readers better access to such literature: in 1731, Edward Cave’s Gentleman’s Magazine was established as a monthly collection of the best periodical essays from the previous month.So numerous were these serials, so persistent a feature of the reading diet of people throughout English society during nearly the entire century, and so natural did it seem to an 18th-century author to develop a periodical essay series or at least to contribute a paper or two to a series established by another writer, that any discussion of the periodical essay is most appropriately situated in this period.The confluence of three separate cultural developments appears to have caused the emergence of the periodical essay form early in the 18th century.Daniel Defoe estimated the total national weekly circulation of such periodicals at 200,000 in 1711, and the sharing of papers at coffeehouses and within families doubtless created a larger audience even then.The second development was the rise of the informal essay at the same time, undoubtedly influenced by the writings of Montaigne as well as by the recognition that particular kinds of prose style might be more appropriate to some discourses than to others.

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