The eighteenth century saw an astonishing increase in books about literature. Numerous writers generated fresh interest in critical approaches to literature as well as theories of literature. More and more, literary theorists sought to find new guidelines, precepts, and rules for evaluating and appreciating literary works. The enthusiasm that flourished so conspicuously in the eighteenth century can be traced, of course, to Elizabethan literary criticism, but more immediately to writers of the late seventeenth century, such as John Dryden, Gerard Langbaine, and Thomas Rymer, to mention only three. Shortly afterwards, when Joseph Addison made accessible and popular such concepts as "wit", "judgement", and "taste" in his Spectator essays (1711- 1714), he not only responded to widespread eagerness for literary topics, but encouraged other writers to investigate and to develop such concepts more fully and critically. The texts reprinted in this collection represent the eclecticism as well as the dynamism to be found in the attempts of eighteenth century authors to reach a better understanding of how literature works.Vom Verlag:
It was the eighteenth century that saw the development of literary theory into a subject of enquiry in its own right. As a result it is naturally the period to which scholars and critics turn when investigating the origin and nature of theories about literature. The study of literary theory has now become a major field of intellectual and critical study.
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