Catalogue


The evolution of English prose, 1700-1800 : style, politeness, and print culture /
Carey McIntosh.
imprint
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1998.
description
xi, 276 p.
ISBN
0521624320 (pbk.)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1998.
isbn
0521624320 (pbk.)
catalogue key
2293914
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 239-267) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1999-06:
In this interesting and readable study, McIntosh (Hofstra Univ.) argues that Britain's huge strides toward a mature print culture changed English prose in important ways. Posters, handbills, labels, tickets, printed formal marriage certificates, indentures, daily newspapers--all meant that "by the end of the century there were words for sale in every village of the nation." McIntosh observes that this culture put more emphasis on textuality (e.g., in Shakespeare, as Michael Dobson also points out in The Making of the National Poet, CH, Jul'93); "prescriptivism" emerged in grammars and dictionaries, which proliferated after 1750. Prose became more polite and less like speech; there was what Ann Douglas (The Feminization of American Culture, CH, Nov'77) and Terry Eagleton (The Rape of Clarissa: Writing, Sexuality and Class Struggle in Samual Richardson, CH, Apr'83) call a large-scale "feminization" of literature. By 1800, woman writers--marginalized earlier--became dominant literary forces in some areas. Contemporary rhetoric flourished. All of this sociocultural change contributed to the era's language consciousness. McIntosh considers such writers as Defoe, Paine, Pope, Wordsworth, Astell, Wollstonecraft, Swift, Burke, and the Earl of Shaftsbury and such topics as "lofty language and low," style, and rhetoric. Well argued and well written, this fascinating book is recommended for upper-level undergraduates, graduate students, and researchers. A. F. Erlebach; Michigan Technological University
Reviews
Review Quotes
'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 argument...is convincing, the practical demonstrations illuminating, the definitions of terms pertinent and clear. Highly recommended." The East-Central Intelligencer
"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
‘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
'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
"Well argued and well written, this fascinating book is recommended for upper-level undergraduates, graduate students, and researchers." Choice
"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
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, May 1999
Choice, June 1999
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Summaries
Description for Library
At the beginning of the eighteenth century ordinary written English was close to speech; by 1800, people expressed themselves more formally, politely and precisely. The new 'writtenness' of prose coincided with the development of a mature print culture, the rise of women writers, the invention of prescriptive grammars, and a powerful new rhetoric. Carey McIntosh traces these changes and illustrates them with comparison of work by Defoe and Paine, Swift and Burke, Addison and Johnson, Shaftesbury and Godwin, and Astell and Wollstonecraft.
Main Description
At the beginning of the eighteenth century ordinary written English was close to speech; by 1800, people expressed themselves more formally, politely, and precisely. The new "writtenness" of prose coincided with the development of a mature print culture, the rise of women writers, the invention of prescriptive grammars, and a powerful new rhetoric. Carey McIntosh traces these changes and illustrates them with comparisons of work by Defoe and Paine, Swift and Burke, Addison and Johnson, Shaftesbury and Godwin, and Astell and Wollstonecraft.
Main Description
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.
Bowker Data Service Summary
From 1700-1800 English prose became more polite & less closely tied to speech. McIntosh explores oral dimensions of written texts in writers such as Swift & Astell, who have a strong colloquial base & in more bookish writers like Johnson & Burke.
Description for Bookstore
At the beginning of the eighteenth century ordinary written English was close to speech; by 1800, people expressed themselves more formally, politely, and precisely. The new 'writtenness' of prose coincided with the development of a mature print culture, the rise of women writers, the invention of prescriptive grammars, and a powerful new rhetoric. Carey McIntosh traces these changes and illustrates them with comparison of work by Defoe and Paine, Swift and Burke, Addison and Johnson, Shaftesbury and Godwin, and Astell and Wollstonecracft.
Description for Bookstore
At the beginning of the eighteenth century ordinary written English was close to speech; by 1800, people expressed themselves much more formally, politely and precisely. Using examples from a wide variety of prose writers of the century, Carey McIntosh explains how and why this change occurred.
Table of Contents
Preface
The ordering of English
Literacy and politeness: the gentrification of English prose
Testing the model
Loose and periodic sentences
Lofty language and low
Nominal and oral styles: Johnson and Richardson
The new rhetoric of 1748-93
The instruments of literacy
Politeness; feminisation
Style and rhetoric
Epilogue - language change
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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