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Storytelling in the Spectators / Storytelling dans les spectateurs

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Edited By Klaus-Dieter Ertler, Yvonne Völkl, Elisabeth Hobisch, Alexandra Fuchs and Hans Fernández

The Spectators, also known as Moral Weeklies, were an important magazine genre which came into being in the early 18th century and which shaped European identity by developing the strategies of critical journalism and by popularizing the ideas and values of the Age of Enlightenment. Investigating modes of storytelling in the Spectators is an important starting point for a paradigmatic investigation of our historical, cultural and philosophical evolution since the Enlightenment and the impact of these magazines on issues of identity in today’s Europe. In this collection on ‹Storytelling in the Spectators›, we present a series of contributions which study English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Dutch, Czech, Polish and Danish-Norwegian periodicals.

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The Pastoral in Motion: Sociability in the Spectator

Extract



To address the “common Fault […] of growing too intimate, and falling into displeasing Familiarities”, Steele pens a series of essays in the Tatler. “One would pass over patiently such as converse like animals, and salute each other with bangs on the shoulder, sly raps with canes, and other robust pleasantries practiced by the rural gentry of this nation”, but Isaac Bickerstaff finds a version of this behavior “even among those who should have more polite ideas of things”: Londoners too often “invert the design of conversation” by purposely and jocularly giving offense to one another, out of “an unjust sense of the art of being intimate and familiar” (T III, 225, 172)1. In the first of the series, Bickerstaff comments on a letter he has received from a Lysander, who “has writ to me out of the Country”, in order to complain of the injudicious interruption of his rural repose. Having, “after a long Satiety of the Town, […] been so happy as to get to a Solitude he extremely liked”, Lysander sits in the shade by the bank of a rivulet to read Virgil’s Georgics—only to be disturbed by “an indiscreet Flatterer”. The intruder disturbs Lysander’s doubly rustic reading in order to do two things: first, to commend Lysander on the virtue he displays in seeking rural retirement, and, second, in case we didn’t pick up on the irony, to complain “[w]e wanted you at Cards after Dinner” (T III, 215, 130).

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