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Title: Miscellany poems, 1684-1716 : an investigation into Jacob Tonson's role in the history of the English poetical miscellany
Author: Cameron, William James
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 1957
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Abstract:
In setting out to complete the task begun by Havens and Wassermann of assessing the motives that led Tonson to publish his "Dryden” miscellanies, we cannot do better than to keep in mind one of the general principles which Havens himself expressed at the beginning of his article: In a body of writing so large as that of the eighteenth century something can be found to substantiate almost any opinion, and a collection of instances used to bolster up a pre-conceived theory may easily pass as the basis of a scientific induction. Hence the completeness of the evidence is all-important, as is likewise the evidence that suggests different conclusions from those adopted. Ironically then, the new evidence to be presented in this dissertation will invalidate many of Havens' conclusions. Havens was intent upon comparing a mid-century poetical collection with one at the beginning of the century so that he might accurately gauge the change in literary tastes. His analyses of his two series of volumes is therefore conditioned (and distorted) by this main aim. Indeed, he unconsciously assumes that Tonson's and Dods1ey's motives were similar in enough respects to justify such a comparison. But they can be proved to be so dissimilar that the comparison loses much of its relevance. Havens was not of course comparing chalk and cheese, but he had a tendency to assume that his two cheeses differed only in taste. Without adducing any new evidence it might be pointed out that Tonson's 1716 duodecimo volumes conservatively retained many poems not because they were still popular but merely because they had been in the earlier octavo series. Nothing was included in Dodsley's volume that was not an expression of contemporary taste. Tonson’s six volumes represent a hatch-patch of the tastes of many people over a period of 32 years; Dodsley's of a more uniform taste within the limits of 10 years. So, in order to compare Tonson's "taste" in 1716 with Dods1ey's in 1748, the levels of taste in the 1716 volumes must be differentiated with some care. The most valuable part of Havens' work is undoubtedly his sensitive critical analysis of Dodsley's collection.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.574477  DOI: Not available
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