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Showing posts from May, 2020

The Father of Virginia Woolf: Women and the Essay

I recently read A C Grayling’s biography The Quarrel of the Age: The Life and Times of William Hazlitt (2000). It’s the fascinating story of a fascinating man, elegantly written and immensely readable. Hazlitt was an essayist, arts critic, and a life-long radical. Unlike the friends of his youth, Coleridge and Wordsworth, he never abandoned his radical politics. He was devastated by the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte and the subsequent restoration of European monarchies. He was an independent thinker, who wrote in an intensely personal and original style. Hazlitt was also a philanderer, a man who had numerous infatuations and affairs, and who frequently visited prostitutes. In one bizarre and rather obscure incident in the Lake District, he is said to have “spanked” a local girl. Mmm. I think the word the biographer is struggling for is “assaulted”. According to Grayling, Hazlitt did this because she must have been “teasing him, or leading him on and then denying him”. Hazlitt later d