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William HazlittPolitical Essayist$
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Kevin Gilmartin

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198709312

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198709312.001.0001

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Radical Essayist

Radical Essayist

(p.47) 1 Radical Essayist
William Hazlitt

Kevin Gilmartin

Oxford University Press

Hazlitt was more involved with the mainstream radical press than has often been acknowledged. Even the essay form, sometimes taken to distinguish his polite style from a more plebeian radical manner, was (under the auspices of William Cobbett) a central feature of the early nineteenth-century reformist press. Hazlitt drew creatively on a range of popular radical idioms and forms. His prose was often shaped by the terms of radical economic analysis, with its emphasis on concrete terms, on strict material limits, and on figures of corruption and decay. The contemporary radical catalog of corruption, typified by John Wade’s Black Book, provides a useful point of comparison for Hazlitt’s radical argument. The economic analysis of corrupt government triggered some of his most vivid accounts of catastrophic social and political division, though he was less optimistic than other radicals about whether corruption implied the imminent demise of oppressive power.

Keywords:   William Hazlitt, radicalism, essay, prose style, William Cobbett, economics, corruption, John Wade

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