Had we ever met which is unlikely in the extreme as he died years before I was born he would have immediately found that I am a great aficionado of puns. The title of this entry comes from the title of an essay he wrote in I must say, I do not agree that his statement is a fallacy. The best puns are the worst! Among the gang of friends with whom I hang-around, Halloween is a big event. Partly because we can party and hang-out, partly because we get to dress-up, but mostly because we drink! No, just kidding. It is the socializing that is important. At least as important as the booze.
It has been my practice since moving to Colorado to wear a Visual pun to the Halloween party. Our customer support agent will call you back within 15 minutes. Sign up to our newsletter to receive a promo code. Receive discount.
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Estimated Date:. Estimated Price:. In the garh of essayists, though not of the kind which affects this dis- cussion closely, Dryden and Temple actually took part in the literary controversy which received its quietus in Swift's Battle of the Books. Addison has given up for the time being the role of a detached critical observer, to assume that of an advocate.
It does not concern us here to discuss Addison's critical essays any further than to note that they glance backward to classical models and classi- cal canons of poetry, that their appeal is to the learned reading public, and that incidentally the writer enforces, even in the Milton papers, his strictures on extravagance in language and conduct. Steele and Addison have generally been accepted as typical " Augustan " essayists.
In taking leave of the century it is only necessary to mention Groldsmith and Johnson as later representatives. The Citizen of the World is in no way inferior to the more famous Spectator, but why are the Bamhler and Idler now read only from a sense of duty? Is the explanation not found in the fact that Johnson's essays are, generally speaking, a reversion to type? Here we have the old subjects treated abstract- ly in the manner of Bacon and ComwaJlis.
It is not enough to say that the style is ponderous.
So too is the style of Gibbon and Burke, in a sense, but their subjects are never commonplace. Through Addison, Steele, and Goldsmith we have become accustomed to seeing the foibles and weaknesses of mankind treated in a light, playful fashion; Johnson's attempts to be free and airy usually suggest the effect of a rigadoon played on a trombone.
The W. MAC DONALD ponderous style lends itself more fitly to the serious and abstract, but the day for that kind of essay passed when the curtain was rung down upon " Aphoristic " essayists. II Nature and destiny combined to make an essayist of Charles Lamb, as they had combined to make an historian of Gibbon. He says himself that had it not been for an impediment in his speech he should have entered the pul- pit ; the same defect, " even more than certain personal disqualifications," may have prevented him from going on the stage ; his duties as clerk until the age of fifty, and his noble solicitude for his afflicted sister, left him little leisure for prolonged literary effort.
On the other hand, these very circumstances forced him to seek expression in the shorter compositions that have made his name famous. But apart altogether from the conditions in which his life was passed. Lamb's genius was suited for the essay. What- ever virtues Rosamond Gray and John Woodvil possess, they unquestionably show that the author was deficient in constructive powers as well as in capacity for character drawing in story and drama. For one kind of character sketching he had, as will be shown later, a peculiar felicity, but this aptitude merely points with other finger-posts along the highway of the essay.
To get a complete idea of Lamb the essayist, attention must not be centered entirely upon the Elia collections.
No doubt these contain what Lamb considered the best of his contributions to the London Magazines, but it is difficult to understand some of the omissions. Edax on Appetite, Ilospita on Immoderate Indulgence, and On the Custom of Hissing at the Theatres, not to mention a dozen other pieces which are now included in the Miscellaneous Prose, are all worthy of a place in, the collection which will be Lamb's passport on the day of Judgment.
A preface is nothing but a talk with the reader; and they do nothing else. E'othing in Lamb — not even the autobiographical element — is so suggestive of Montaigne as the jovial contempt he fre- quently shows for any sort of unity iii his essays. They are, as all the older essays professed to be, only " imperfect offers, loose sallies of the mind, irregular or undigested pieces," " that " rather glaunce at all things with a run- ning conceit, than insist on any with a slowe discourse.
With the exception of the last two pages, the Praise is so attenuated as to be as near nil as can be. The text, Old China, is again a mere starting point, the real subject of the piece being the joys of easy poverty as against the cares of affluence. Like Montaigne and Corn- wallis.
Lamb refuses to " chain himself to the head of his chapter. Of course, an author who indulges in such vagaries may write at any length according to his mood, the allotted space, or the fecundity of his mind. Montaigne writes a ' Johnson's Dictionary. But Montaigne was not writing for a magazine, and Lamb was; consequently tbe latter had to set some limit to bis digressions other than that fixed by the fertility of his brain. But there is ample evidence that he approached his subject in just the same way as Montaigne.
Professor Walker's statement that the essays of Lamb and Montaigne " could under no cir- cumstances expand into treatises; they are complete in themselves," is meaningless or wrong, or else the critic is insisting upon the formality of the treatise. Take for example one of the essays just mentioned.
Furthermore, two para- graphs in the Bejoicings were expanded into separate pa- pers which appeared a couple of years later. It is readily seen that most of the pieces which appear in Elia as Popular Fallacies are just the kind of fancies that Lamb might have expanded into essays.
As a matter of fact two or three of these compositions are in Lamb's happiest style and are in no way different from the Essays. The last, " The Pleasures of Sulkiness " is much in the style of Montaigne, only here Lamb is poking fun at himself, laying bare, in the manner of Mr. Arnold Ben- nett, the little, mean, kinks that sometimes tend to warp the most generous soul.
One of the Fallacies that a de- formed person is a Lord was published as a separate piece under the title A Popular Fallacy. Characters of Dramatic writers, contemporary with Shakespeare, which are not essays in themselves, are best considered as the kernels of essays, rough and ready thoughts occasioned by Lamb's reading, which might have been expanded into real " critical essays.
He has the characteristic attitude of the essayists toward what is old. His prede- cessors of the seventeenth century were never tired of W. The names of Sir Thomas Browne, Fuller, Butler, Marvel, Shakespeare, and the old dramat- ists are those which most often appear in the essays, and quotations from their writings are to be found in abund- ance. Classical references of course are numerous, but as has been pointed out, the general reading public of Lamb's day was no longer the kind to respond to such an appeal; moreover, Lamb was thoroughly convinced that his own native English contained stores as rich as any to be found in the literature of Greece and Rome.
The passing of the sun-dial, the change in readers, who no longer read for pleasure as they did thirty years ago, the deterioration in acting, the decay of beggars and schoolmasters, are all subjects of complaint, though of course the complaint must be taken only half seriously. Attention has already been called to the fact that there is but one distinct reference to the Napoleonic wars in all the essays — a fact that is more easily understood in than it would have been three years ago.
References to contemporaries like Hunt, Hazlitt, and Coleridge fall in a different category, being inevitable in autobiographical essays. Lamb carries on the tradition of Bacon and Addison, yet in a sense he is greater than either. Elia's aphorisms are frequently as wise as Bacon's, but they are not so close- ly packed together as to form the tissue of the essay.
Through Addison, Steele, and Goldsmith we have become accustomed to seeing the foibles and weaknesses of mankind treated in a light, playful fashion; Johnson's attempts to be free and airy usually suggest the effect of a rigadoon played on a trombone. James is a critical criminologist and emerging research leader in the field of cybercriminology. Professor Walker makes a distinction between " essays par excellence " and compositions on scientific, philosophical, historical, or criti- cal subjects, which agree with the former, " only in being comparatively short and in being more or less incomplete. The impression of impromptu is never gained from reading an essay by Stevenson. Online Travel Agency. Enter characters shown in the image above. Search Search Adv.
One always feels that Bacon has something very wise to say, that the proper thing to do is to listen attentively. Lamb, on the other hand, frequently startles his readers by some profound observation in the midst of seemingly trivial talk. The Convalescent is an instance. The former is spun out of mere nothing ; in the latter the essayist grapples with a real text.
Whether the answer is " Yes " or " No," there are few readers that will not find Lamb's of- fering more acceptable than Bacon's. The latter teaches ex cathedra, the former inveigles us into the ways of wisdom. Like Bacon, Lamb occasionally talks in abstract terms, as for example in Stage Illusion; more frequently, however, the subject is opened in a general way and illustrated by an interesting anecdote, much in the manner of Fuller's Holy and Profane State. But one can- not say that Lamb has any particular method of treatment.
He uses every method. In fact, it is Lamb's versatility, his, protean temper, his facility of surprise both in indi- vidual pieces and in successive essays, that make the Es- says of Elia supreme amongst their kind. One critic has described the literary essay as being " moulded by some central mood — whimsical, serious or satirical. Its application, however, should be in a sense somewhat different from that in which the critic seems to use it.
Instead of meaning " odd," let it mean " according to the whim of the moment," and the W. Lamb is a " whimsical " es- sayist in both senses of the word. What could be more fantastical than the Autohiography of Mr. Tombs of the Abbey is in a serious vein throughout. None of the other essayists, excepting Steele occasionally, vrrites vrith such pathos as permeates Dream Children and underlies The Wedding.
The nice balance preserved between the light and the pa- thetic in the last named essay is an instance of the danger in declaring that one special mood gives the key to any individual composition of Lamb's. When we speak of satire we think of Lamb in relation to the eighteenth-cen- tury periodical essayists.
Like Addison's, the satire of Lamb is always light, never vindictive or canine, as is usually the case in Hazlitt's essays. In the Imperfect Sym- pathies the writer suggests that perhaps the imperfection is in himself. The essay last named immediately suggests Addi- son's Vision of Justice in form and substance, but as com- pared with the latter is crude and ineffective.
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Addison's infallible decorum allows him to handle a delicate subject in such a way that only the humor of the satire is impress- ed upon the reader. Lamb is not always decorous, and in this instance there is something repulsive, a lack of nice taste, which probably persuaded him to omit the piece from the Elia collection. Lamb's purpose is to entertain his readers, not to provide an exercise in mental gymnastics. Bacon parades his witticisms and profound general truths in massed battalions.
Lamb's method is to lead them out in extended order — a more effective if less imposing ar- rangement. The occasional epigram gives a fillip to the intellect and raises the commonplace to a higher plane without forcing the mind to be constantly on the alert. The usual way with Lamb, as with all essayists, is to open up the subject with a striking statement that immediately arrests attention. Wealth of allusion, apt metaphor and simile are qualities of style that every prose writer requires who wishes to be inter- esting.
Lamb's felicity in this respect is too obvious to be insisted upon here ; every critic of the essayist has dis- cussed these elements of his style. The peculiar effect of Lamb's style is best expressed in the word " unexpected- ness.