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Thinking Through StyleNon-Fiction Prose of the Long Nineteenth Century$
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Michael D. Hurley and Marcus Waithe

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198737827

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198737827.001.0001

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‘Things Pressing to be said’

‘Things Pressing to be said’

Harriet Martineau’s Mission to Inform

Chapter:
(p.118) 7 ‘Things Pressing to be said’
Source:
Thinking Through Style
Author(s):

Valerie Sanders

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198737827.003.0008

Unlike many of the other authors discussed in this collection, Martineau has rarely been read for pleasure in the artistry of her wordplay. When she mentions her writing it is with a sense, declared in her Autobiography, that ‘Things were pressing to be said.’ Her purpose was to educate, popularize, and simplify, her words essentially a vehicle for the transmission of information. Focusing on examples of her journalism, this chapter challenges the view that Martineau’s style was essentially functional, by exploring her acute rhetorical self-awareness. Building on the classical mode of composition she had learned at school, with its systematic structures and aphoristic statements, her writing is also homely, commonsensical, even volatile, often culminating in a cry of ‘What is to be done?’ as she urges her readers to embrace their social responsibilities.

Keywords:   classical, education, gender, journalism, readers, rhetoric, sage writing

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