[Summer 2012: We’ve made some changes to the appearance of the site and are now rectifying formatting glitches and adding an English translation of the epigraphs. This fall, how can we make the keywords/tags/categories more helpful to you? Please contact us.]
1 March 2011 . . .
precisely 300 years ago, the first issue of The Spectator appeared, offering readers an essay a day by Joseph Addison or Richard Steele. Printed daily (except Sundays) on one sheet of newspaper, this publication came to be regarded by many as the most influential literary and cultural periodical in the English language. Its stated aims were to “enliven morality with wit, and to temper wit with morality” and to “bring philosophy out of the closets and libraries, schools and colleges, to dwell in clubs and assemblies, at tea-tables and coffeehouses” (No. 10).
In celebration of this tercentenary, our modest wish is that The Spectator will once again dwell among gentlemen and gentlewomen in this our humble blog, our virtual coffee house. We invite you to make The Spectator part of your daily cup of tea (of course coffee and English ale, served at room temperature, are equally permissible) and join us in the types of topics and conversation Londoners once found particularly engaging and edifying. We hope this will provide an immersion experience into 18th century British cultural life and, who knows, we might all, to Addison and Steele’s wishes, become just a bit more refined, tasteful and, perhaps even, polite.
The text of these essays is from the Morley (1891) edition, now in the public domain and freely available from Project Gutenberg. We also have at hand a print copy of the definitive edition (Oxford 1965) and will be happy to offer clarifications from the footnotes in that edition or other resources we may have. Please send us questions or suggestions. We are moderating comments on the site only to avoid spam; we look forward to your comments and participation in our online sphere of rational-critical discourse. Please add this site to your RSS feed and visit daily.
Additional announcements, posts, and other features will be added in due course. We look forward to your suggestions.
With every hope that each day you find your instruction agreeable and your diversion useful, we remain, yours very truly,
The Spectator300 Team
Spectator300 at gmail dot com