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Tatler and the Spectator Essays | Paradise Lost: General Critical Remarks & The Pleasures of the Imagination


The Tatler and Spectator essays represent a few of the most popular readings of the 1700s that were published in weekly newspapers for elite classes. However, today the readers do not grasp the spirit that was intended to be delivered in these articles in those times. We provide examples of such references below:

1. Paradise lost: General critical remarks (Addison, 1712a)
Addison has addressed the intellectual level of people in that prevailing century which was too mundane to understand the romantic human feelings. Addison desires that a poem should be larger than life which doesn’t depict a realistic set of events. A comparison of Adam and Eve to the love of Dido and Aeneas seems unfair as the former represents a natural form while the latter demonstrates imaginative pleasures. His criticism exhibits a lack of aesthetic taste and appreciation for true beauty.

2. The pleasures of the imagination (Addison, 1712b)
Although this essay is drafted in a highly effective language with significant ideas, yet certain parts are very vague and difficult to understand by modern generations. Addison suggested that all species have different notions of beauty; an article from Lander University explains this unclear statement that the species of the same kind will always find each other most appealing and attractive naturally. Birds of similar colors will somehow automatically respond to a slight glimpse of other birds within the same class. At first sight of similar creatures, we might conclude them as beautiful while other creatures might seem deformed to our eyes (Lander University, 7).

3. On the scale of being (Addison, 1712c)
Evans has criticized the idea of Addison in using intricate words to address the notion of the materialistic nature of human beings. Moreover, the high level of positivity depicted in this essay is artificial and fabricated, which causes readers to depart from reality. Thus, the essay lacks critical aspects of the intrinsic nature of human beings. Instead, it emphasizes how infinite goodness and perfection can be achieved by people and how they are superior beings above all others. In today’s world, negativity has become part and parcel of our lives and therefore people wish to read essays that are more inclined towards satire and bitter realities of this world (Evans, 1986).

Evans, James E. “Mr. Review on the” Glorious” Tatler and the” Inimitable” Spectator.” Journal of Newspaper and Periodical History 3.1 (1986).
Addison, Joseph. Paradise Lost: General Critical Remarks. The Spectator No. 267, Saturday, January 5 (1712a).
Addison, Joseph. The Pleasures of the Imagination. The Spectator No. 411, Saturday, June 21 (1712b).
Addison, Joseph. On the scale of being. The Spectator No. 519, Saturday, October 25 (1712c).
Lander University. “Pleasures of the Imagination” by Joseph Addison, Reading for Philosophical Inquiry: Article Series. Published by Lander University, pp. 1-19.

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