Patriotism and Public Spirit: Edmund Burke and the Role of the Critic in Mid-Eighteenth-Century Britain

November 29, 2020
Patriotism and Public Spirit: Edmund Burke and the Role of the Critic in Mid-Eighteenth-Century Britain

Patriotism and Public Spirit is an innovative study ofthe formative influences shaping the early writings of theIrish-English statesman Edmund Burke and an early case-study of therelationship between the business of bookselling and the politicsof criticism and persuasion. Through a radical reassessment of theimpact of Burke's "Irishness" and of his relationship with theLondon-based publisher Robert Dodsley, the book argues that Burkesaw Patriotism as the best way to combine public spirit with thereinforcement of civil order and to combat the use of codedpartisan thinking to achieve the dominance of one section of thepopulation over another.No other study has drawn so extensively on the literary andcommercial network through which Burke's first writings werepublished to help explain them. By linking contemporaryreinterpretations of the work of Patriot sympathizers and writerssuch as Alexander Pope and Lord Bolingbroke with generallyneglected trends in religious and literary criticism in theRepublic of Letters, this book provides new ways of understandingBurke's early publications. The results call into questionfundamental assumptions about the course of "Enlightenment" thoughtand challenge currently dominant post-colonialist and Irishnationalist interpretations of the early Burke.