The name Joseph Addison was once synonymous with the finest of English prose. Eminent writers from Voltaire to Lord Macaulay to John Steinbeck considered him a consummate master to be studied and emulated. According to Benjamin Franklin, Addison’s writings "contributed more to the improvement of the minds of the British nation, and polishing their manner, than those of any other English pen whatever." While his influence lives on in the sound and style of English today, the fame of this literary role model has faded from popular awareness. The Addisonian spirit, which ushered in an exceptional era of domestic peace in Britain and provided inspiration for the French and American Revolutions, coded many of the constitutional, political, and social agreements we continue to live with today. This book, the first comprehensive monograph of Addison in half a century, considers Addison’s contribution through an in-depth exploration of his writings, political work, social life, and theatrical stagings.

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