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«Spectator»-Type Periodicals in International Perspective

Enlightened Moral Journalism in Europe and North America


Edited By Misia Sophia Doms

As soon as the Spectator model spread from England to continental Europe and began to be incorporated in French, Dutch and German translations and adaptions, the respective journalistic networks and negotiations regularly exceeded local, regional, and even national boundaries and took on international dimensions. The contributions of the present volume outline the historical development and the intricate literary, artistic, journalistic and scientific communication and distribution networks of the moral weeklies and periodical essays inspired by the Spectator prototype in Europe and North America. Thus, these periodicals become visible as parts and products of ramified learned and creative negotiations on genres, writing techniques and topics.

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Case Study: Cosmopolitanism, National Character, and Spectatorship.


Oliver Goldsmith and the Magazines, 1759–1760

Abstract: In this essay is explored the influence of Addison’s and Steele’s The Spectator on the early journalistic career of the Irish poet, playwright, novelist, and essayist Oliver Goldsmith (1728–1774). Of particular interest is the manner in which Goldsmith adapted the format of the Spectator-style essay to wrestle with issues of national identity, cosmopolitanism, and imperialism in the midst of the Seven Years’ War.

Keywords: Irish Spectator-style essays, Goldsmith, Cosmopolitanism, National Character

Sometime in 1772 or 1773 the Irish poet, playwright, novelist and essayist Oliver Goldsmith (1728–1774), now ensconced in the upper echelons of London literary society after an early career which consisted of much obscure and anonymous journalism, was tentatively involved in preparing an edition of Joseph Addison and Richard Steele’s The Spectator (1711–1712 and 1714) for an Irish publisher, William Wilson (c.1745–1801). The Spectator had been published in Ireland before, but Wilson thought that its time had come around again. Wilson, once described by James Caulfield, 1st Earl of Charlemont and first president of the Royal Irish Academy, as “the most spirited printer in this spiritless City”,1 had considerable form in making available to his Dublin public the century’s finest popular works from over the Irish sea. He published Dublin editions of popular novels such as The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker (1771) and Robinson Crusoe (1781) and supplied books in bulk to Marsh’s Library in Dublin, Ireland’s first public library.2...

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