Horace Walpole's Letters
In looking closely at Horace Walpole's Correspondence, George E. Haggerty shows how these letters, when taken in aggregate, offer an astonishingly vivid account of the vagaries of eighteenth-century masculinity. Walpole talks about himself obsessively: his wants, his needs, his desires, hies physical and mental pain, his artistic appreciation and his critical responses. It is impossible to read these letters and not come away with a vivid impression of a complex personality from another age. Haggerty examines the ways in which Walpole presents himself as an eighteenth-century gentleman, and considers his personal relationships, his needs and aspirations, his emotionalism and his rationality - in short, his construction of himself - in order to see what it tells us about the age in general and more specifically, about masculinity in an era of social flux. This study of Walpole and his epistolary relations offers a unique window into both the history of masculinity in the eighteenth century and the codification of friendship as the preeminent value in western culture. Recent studies have tried to rewrite Walpole in a twenty-first century mold while this work looks at the writer and the ways in which he constructs himself and his relations, not in hopes of uncovering a lurid secret, but rather in pursuit of the figure that he created and that has fascinated generations of readers and writers since the eighteenth century.
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