"This book is the cultural history of an idea which now seems so self-evident as barely to be worth stating: through writing imaginative literature, an author can accrue significant and lasting economic and cultural power. We take for granted, now, that authority dwells in literature and in being its author. This state of affairs was not naturally occurring, but deliberately invented. This book tells the story of that invention. The story's central figures are Alexander Pope and Samuel Johnson. But its narrative begins in the 1680s, with the last gasp of the bond linking literary to political authority. While Jacobite poets celebrated (and mourned) the Stuart dynasty, Whig writers traced the philosophical and aesthetic consequences of the accession of William of Orange. Both groups left behind sets of literary devices ready-made to confer and validate authority. Claude Willan challenges the continued reign of the "Scriblerian" model of the period and shows how that reign was engineered. In so doing he historicizes the relationship between "good" and "bad" writing, and suggests how we might think about literature and beauty had Pope and Johnson not taken literary authority for themselves. What might literature have looked like, and what could we use it for, he provocatively asks"--
Physical Description:ix, 316 pages ; 24 cm print
Published:Stanford, California :Stanford University Press,2023.
Publisher:Stanford, California : Stanford University Press, 2023.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Introduction -- Whig prose cultures -- "I love with all my heart:" Jacobite poetry in manuscript -- Dipt in ink : Pope without "Pope" in his early career -- Pope's moderate ascendancy -- Johnson's struggle with Pope -- Coda.