'In the course of these fifty years we have become a nation of public speakers. Everyone speaks now. We are now more than ever a debating, that is, a Parliamentary people' (The Times, 1873).
The Art of Eloquence considers how Byron, Dickens, Tennyson, and Joyce responded to this 'Parliamentary people', and examines the ways in which they and their publics conceived the relations between political speech and literary endeavour. Drawing on a wide range of sources - classical rhetoric, Hansard, newspaper reports, elocutionary manuals, treatises on crowd theory - this book argues that oratorical procedures and languages were formative influences on literary culture from Romanticism to Modernism. Matthew Bevis focuses attention on how the four writers negotiated contending political demands in and through their work, and on how they sought to cultivate forms of literary detachment that could gain critical purchase on political arguments.
Providing a close reading of the relations between printed words and public voices as well as a broader engagement with debates about the socio-political inflections of the aesthetic realm, this is a major study of how styles of writing can explore and embody forms of responsible political conduct.
About the Author
Matthew Bevis is lecturer in English Literature at the University of York
`Review from previous edition Meticulously researched...sharp-eared and eagle-eyed...like those that he follows so intimately, scrupulously, beguilingly, Bevis comes in at an angle, listening out for the nuance of a phrase...The book's disinclination to engage in reductive demagoguery constitutes its own eloquent intervention in literary studies...There is much to be valued in this study, not only for its subject, but also its style.' Rhian Williams, Peer English `A big subject and a brilliant book' John Harvey, Essays in Criticism `A brilliantly conceived and executed book ... It is hard to over-praise the sweep and the depth of Bevis's research, or the delicacy and nuanced force of his close readings ... Bevis is a gifted new critical voice ... The Art of Eloquence is a major achievement, a tour de force that shows criticism can be an eloquent art.' Michael O'Neill, The Byron Journal `A highly intelligent book ... Bevis is an exceptional reader at a time when all too many scholars prefer following an agenda to following the words ... He mounts a brilliant case on Dickens ... This is outstanding reading ... one of the most promising scholars and readers of a new generation' Philip Davis, Tennyson Research Bulletin `Fascinating...shows a breadth of interest, and a willingness to take risks, which is altogether admirable...such is the ambition of the project that only a sustained performance of rhetorical judgement and a first-rate ear would be able to carry the argument through...Bevis's study is carried off so well, with such a combination of useful information and readerly panache, that one is not just surprised but glad that it has not been done before.' John Coyle, Modernism/Modernity `Engaging and insightful...stimulating and innovative reading ...a satisfying, and sometimes remarkable, study...Bevis succeeds in offering something new to the field of literary criticism.' Christopher K. Coffman, Rhetorical Review `Impressive contextual research...accompanied by a close attention to linguistic and stylistic features...the book is full of insightful readings...Valuable and thought-provoking' Gregory Tate, Modern Language Review `Bevis's subject and his approach are of great value ... A refreshing and informative pleasure to read ... The flexible auditory tenacity of Bevis's ear for a quotation thoroughly sustains him ... the scholarship and sensitivity of reading in this book recommend it on every page.' Peter Robinson, Cambridge Quarterly `This study is admirable in a great many respects...a skilled and subtle literary scholar...Bevis draws together the relevant threads to provide a firm argumentative grounding for his own keen-eyed readings of the texts.' Joseph Meisel, Parliamentary History `Packed with intelligent and nuanced close readings... informed by solid historical detail...Bevis is excellent at linking historical developments with linguistic change...Bevis's capable handling of his material is testament to the breadth and liveliness of wit and intelligence informing the book as a whole.' Matthew Creasy, Review of English Studies
Number Of Pages: 320
Published: 21st September 2010
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.86 x 15.24 x 1.91
Weight (kg): 0.44