William Cobbett: The Politics of Style

Overview

This book offers the first thoroughgoing literary analysis of William Cobbett as a writer. Leonora Nattrass explores the nature and effect of Cobbett's rhetorical strategies, showing through close examination of a broad selection of his polemical writings (from his early American journalism onwards) the complexity, self-consciousness and skill of his stylistic procedures. Her close readings examine the political implications of Cobbett's style within the broader context of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century...
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Overview

This book offers the first thoroughgoing literary analysis of William Cobbett as a writer. Leonora Nattrass explores the nature and effect of Cobbett's rhetorical strategies, showing through close examination of a broad selection of his polemical writings (from his early American journalism onwards) the complexity, self-consciousness and skill of his stylistic procedures. Her close readings examine the political implications of Cobbett's style within the broader context of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century political prose and argue that his perceived ideological and stylistic flaws - inconsistency, bigotry, egoism and political nostalgia - are in fact rhetorical strategies designed to appeal to a range of usually polarized reading audiences. Cobbett's ability to imagine and to address socially divided readers within a single text, the book argues, constitutes a politically disruptive challenge to prevailing political and social assumptions about their respective rights, duties, needs and abilities. This rereading revises a prevailing critical consensus that Cobbett is an unselfconscious populist whose writings reflect rather than challenge the ideological paradoxes and problems of his time.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'[This] valuable book makes it possible even for those who find Cobbett's ideas in themselves too often naive, wrongheaded, or repellent, to continue to admire his art. It also goes far to account for Cobbett's undoubtedly enormous influence in his day.' James Sambrook, Romanticism
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521033428
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2007
  • Series: Cambridge Studies in Romanticism Series , #11
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
A chronology of Cobbett's life
Introduction: change and continuity 1
Pt. I The Creation of Cobbett
1 Early writings 1792-1800 33
2 A version of reaction 62
3 Oppositional styles 1804-1816 89
4 Representing Old England 119
Pt. II Cobbett and His Audience
5 Dialogue and debate 135
6 A radical history 157
7 Tracts and teaching 183
8 Constituting the nation 205
Notes 217
Bibliography 238
Index 247
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