This article considers how the essayistic style of William Hazlitt’s printed texts produces, in its form, a critique of what it considers conservatism in speech and its uncritical reception. Situating Hazlitt in a longer history of thought that considers language a form of practical activity, I argue that the conversational character of Hazlitt’s writing is calculated not to resemble speech, but rather to take aim at speech’s false spontaneity.
Talking with Texts: Hazlitt’s Ephemeral Style
Tristram Wolff teaches in the Comparative Literary Studies Program at Northwestern University. He was a cowinner of the ACLA’s 2015 Bernheimer Award for best dissertation in the field of Comparative Literature. He is currently completing a book on the poetics and politics of the linguistic root, titled “Frail Bonds: Romantic Etymology and Language Ecology.”
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Tristram Wolff; Talking with Texts: Hazlitt’s Ephemeral Style. Representations 1 February 2017; 137 (1): 44–67. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/rep.2017.137.1.44
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