By David Allan
Making British tradition explores an under-appreciated think about the emergence of a recognisably British tradition. in particular, it examines the studies of English readers among round 1707 and 1830 as they grappled, in quite a few situations, with the good effusion of Scottish authorship – together with the hard-edged highbrow achievements of David Hume, Adam Smith and William Robertson in addition to the extra obtainable contributions of poets like Robert Burns and Walter Scott – that distinctive the age of the Enlightenment.
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Additional resources for Making British Culture: English Readers and the Scottish Enlightenment (Routledge Studies in Cultural History)
Such, as we shall find in due course, was the unshakeable conviction of many of this text’s discomfited eighteenth-century readers. 68 Were we, however, to assume that the continual reinvention of meaning by each new reader actually makes all readings valid—on the premise that they are not susceptible of objective evaluation by recourse either to the author’s intentions or to some other extra-textual point of reference—then the practical consequences would be extraordinary. For the notion that a text means what any reader says that it means would not only require us to accept that neither of these two conflicting interpretations of Hume’s History is fundamentally incorrect.
This, of course, comprised those innumerable contemporaries throughout Georgian England who—as book buyers, as library members, and, above all, as readers of its newly-published texts—first encountered and, in a variety of senses, experienced it. It is with an attempt to explore this largely uncharted territory in the social history of eighteenth-century British ideas that the present study is concerned. * * * The contemporary English response to Scotland’s increasingly remarkable cultural productivity has, as we have seen, proved largely impervious to thoroughgoing investigation.
S. Lewis Walpole Library, bringing with it privileged access to a collection affording some extraordinary insights into the literary culture of Georgian England. For helping me to exploit this marvellous opportunity I am grateful to Dr. Maggie Powell and her colleagues in Farmington, Connecticut. I also subsequently received the James M. Osborn Fellowship in English Literature and History at the Beinecke Library, making possible my exploration of what, by the end of my research, I was able to recognise as a collection of commonplace books perhaps second only to that at the British Library in both extent and variety.