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Fame and failure in The Spectator

Rounce, Adam (2008) Fame and failure in The Spectator. ISSN 1469-9729

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This paper explores the peculiar contradictions between the content of The Spectator and its ostensible ideas. These include the narratorial stress on solitude and independence of thought, and its contrast with the intended sociability and community of the journal's dissemination; and the difference between the intangible value of knowledge and wisdom gained for its own sake, and the Whiggish enthusiasm for trade, wealth-creation or fame. Moreover, it's most popular character, Sir Roger de Coverley, is both venerated for representing a nostalgic form of pastoral, and gently satirized as a symbol of a way of life that is necessarily in the past. All these distinctions between the general ideology of the journal and its actual message are a useful way of both understanding its appeal, and the specific nature of its cultural and historical politics.

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