The Evolution of English Prose, 1700-1800: Style, Politeness, and Print Culture (Hardback)
  • The Evolution of English Prose, 1700-1800: Style, Politeness, and Print Culture (Hardback)

The Evolution of English Prose, 1700-1800: Style, Politeness, and Print Culture (Hardback)

Hardback 292 Pages / Published: 05/11/1998
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Between 1700 and 1800 English prose became more polite and less closely tied to speech. A large scale feminisation of literary and other values coincided with the development of a mature print culture; these two historical trends make themselves felt in the evolution of prose. In this book Carey McIntosh explores oral dimensions of written texts not only in writers such as Swift, Defoe and Astell, who have a strong colloquial base, but also in more bookish writers, including Shaftesbury, Johnson and Burke. After 1760, McIntosh argues, prose became more dignified and more self-consciously rhetorical. He examines the new correctness, sponsored by prescriptive grammars and Scottish rhetorics of the third quarter of the century; the new politeness, sponsored by women writers; and standardisation, which by definition encouraged precision and abstractness in language. This book offers support for a hypothesis that these are not only stylistic changes but also major events in the history of the language.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9780521624329
Number of pages: 292
Weight: 600 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 21 mm

'The Evolution of English Prose launches and sustains its major claims with unfailing lucidity. McIntosh expertly attends to the shift in 'the primary textures of prose' as they both register and influence the new ideal. His comprehensive map derives from precise topographical studies ... is especially persuasive as an interpreter of grammars and dictionaries, which did so much to promote the new ideologies of decorum. In an academic climate that encourages blinkered polemics, McIntosh embraces multiple fields, perspectives and methodologies. The Evolution of English Prose deserves a wide readership.' The Times Literary Supplement
"This fascinating book rewards close attention, both in the larger categories of the history of eighteenth-century writing and in many insightful readings of individual passages. The over-all convincing, the practical demonstrations illuminating, the definitions of terms pertinent and clear. Highly recommended." The East-Central Intelligencer
"Well argued and well written, this fascinating book is recommended for upper-level undergraduates, graduate students, and researchers." Choice
"This is clearly a major, if not the major, work on the subject to date, painstakingly researched, comprehensively argued, and lucidly expressed...[McIntosh] has written was seems to be the definitive treatment of the development of eighteenth-century English prose." Modern Philology
"Carey McIntosh's assertive, intelligent, wide-ranging, and free-wheeling new book should prove important, as well as fascinating, to scholars investigating the language, especially literary language, of eighteenth-century Britain...Any student of the eighteenth century of any sort would find this book both useful and immensely interesting. His theses are possible, plausible, well argued. McIntosh's own style is itself so persuasive that the reader feels him-or herself to be convinced." The Age of Johnson: A Scholarly Annual

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