The Spirit of Controversy

William Hazlitt


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Oxford University Press
24 June 2021
ISBN: 9780199591954
448 pages

From the publisher

William Hazlitt (1778-1830) is among the most brilliant critics and essayists to have ever written in the English language. Combative and insightful, he was close to two generations of romantic poets. His early friendship with Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth as a young man inspired him to a literary career, but he became disillusioned with them as apostates from the cause of liberty he associated with the French Revolution. As a mature writer, he inspired John Keats and contributed to his thinking about imagination and poetic character. A forceful commentator on contemporary London, he was also a committed radical, whose 'What is the People?' is an almost visionary statement of a new democratic politics.

The Spirit of Controversy collects together Hazlitt's most coruscating and influential essays, using versions as they first appeared, including those that originally found their way into print in the cut and thrust of the newspapers and magazines of his day.