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By Simon P Hull

The inherent 'metropolitanism' of writing for a Romantic-era periodical is right here explored in the course of the Elia articles that Charles Lamb wrote for the London journal. various Lamb's essays are right here mentioned of their old context but in addition, crucially, in the context of the periodical as an essential component of Lamb's development of self. Hull argues that Lamb's personality of Elia is a pivotal determine within the London journal - an embodiment of what London is and what it stands for. Lamb is an writer who has proved rather complex for literary feedback. right here Hull is ready to supply a balanced therapy, reading Elia as concurrently a facet of Lamb's humour and his political sensibility.

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2, p. 73). Yet whilst the inverted self might be ascribed to a notion of authorial quintessence, there appears to be something more at stake in Lamb’s use of what was already the well-established trope of the ‘dear reader’. This ‘embodiment of interpretive correctness and enthusiastic patronage’ originates, according to Trevor Ross, sometime around the late-sixteenth century, ‘when writers began to sense the extent of the alienation that print imposed between them and their readers’. 19 In the ‘dear friend’ of The Prelude, and in the very intimacy of the addressee of Coleridge’s conversation poems, is expressed a rearguard hostility to the idea of an increasingly unknowable, mass audience for whom literature was becoming, or had already become, it must have seemed, just another consumer product.

The sense of pleasure taken in play as a non-competitive end in itself is evoked by Elia’s concluding wish, that ‘Bridget and I should be ever playing’ (p. 165), and with poignant timing, the ‘strenuous competition’ of the periodical milieu claimed Scott’s life in the same month as this essay appeared. The non-competitive ethos of play also appears in Elia’s New Monthly Magazine essay in the ‘Popular Fallacies’ series, ‘That my Lord Shaftesbury and Sir William Temple are Models of the Genteel Style in Writing’ (March 1826).

Whereas Hunt’s prose is seen by Blackwood’s as arrogantly opinionated, Hunt himself praises Lamb’s anti-critical style: where Hunt’s London comprises the universe, according to Hunt himself Lamb’s Londoner inverts provinciality by reconciling the reader ‘to all that is in the world’. When Blackwood’s do, later, label Elia – but significantly not Lamb – as a Cockney, Scott’s repudiation in the London in January 1821 reasserts Lamb’s non-Cockney credentials. In doing so, however, Scott contradictorily effaces the fact of Lamb’s identity as periodical writer, and thereby his metropolitanism, with a notion of bookishness.

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