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Edited by Gregory Dart
Categories: 18th Century, 19th Century
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (240 pages)
(Pub. Jan 2005)
Some persons think the sublimest object in nature is a ship launched on the bottom of the ocean: but give me, for my private satisfaction, the Mail-Coaches that pour down Piccadilly of an evening, tear up the pavement, and devour the way before them to Lands-End!
from 'The Letter Bell'
William Hazlitt (1778-1830), that most engaging of English prose writers, is provocatively and congenially at home in this new collection of his city essays, each one sparkling with urbane wit and gossip. Characters from the Regency spring to life: Wordsworth and Byron; sportsmen and dandies; street jugglers and footmen and coffee house bores. There is the London Cockney who ventures through Hyde Park 'as a cat crosses a gutter' and the lady's maid returning from Italy 'as giddy as if she had been up in a balloon'.
Gregory Dart reminds us that Hazlitt is not only an important critic and polemicist, but also a wry and reflective observer of human nature, a man who took continual delight in the various pitfalls and paradoxes of metropolitan life. This selection contains many essays that have not previously been available in paperback, together with a short critical introduction and contextual notes.
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