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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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The Late Period of French Spectatorial Writing


Abstract: This article deals with spectatorial periodicals written in French in the second half of the 18th century. It also explores to what extent the orientation towards the English prototype and its main features changed over the course of the century. An important indicator for the evolution of the spectatorial genre in the French context is the role of the fictitious author. The successors of Addison, Steele, Marivaux and van Effen, in particular – writers such as Jean-François de Bastide, Jean Castilhon and Jacques-Vincent Delacroix – are amongst those who subsequently adapt this principal characteristic from the Spectator model and implement it in the wider French-language journalistic culture.

Keywords: French Spectator-type periodicals, late 18th century

Generally speaking, the spectatorial press in France was loyal to the original English prototype. The fictitious authors alluded to their models1 in different ways and acknowledged their origins by hinting at the generic developmental history of their texts. The first well-known intermediaries who introduced the spectatorial form to the European continent, such as Pierre Carlet De Marivaux and Justus van Effen, opted for the characteristic disclosure of the genre’s English origins. In the second half of the 18th century, this modus operandi was continued by other spectatorial writings, which often made specific reference to Addison and Steele, the ‘founding fathers’ of the prototypical English moral periodical, The Spectator.

The present article not only deals with this act of testimony, which can be classified as a main feature of...

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