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|Title:||A Reconsideration of Bacon's Essays|
|Authors:||Starodub, Ann Kathryn|
|Advisor:||Roebuck, W. G.|
|Keywords:||English Language and Literature;English Language and Literature|
|Abstract:||<p>This thesis begins by examining various critical opinions of Bacon as a literary figure. He has been both praised for the clarity of his writing and his ability to synthesize disparate realities and ridiculed for his expediency and his lack of imagination. During the twentieth century critics have championed both viewpoints. We have examined this controversy and attempted to point out the limitations of each argument. In particular, we have considered the Essays since this work has been selected by critics as representative of Bacon's positive and negative qualities. The Essays pose several problems because Bacon chose to write them in three different versions, 1597, 1612, and 1625. Most people have noted the various additions and emendations in the editions but few scholars have discovered a pattern or rationale for the development of the Essays. Stanley Fish, however, has put forth an interesting and provocative thesis. He suggests that the changes, in the form especially, are analogous to Bacon's inductive, scientific method. We have considered carefully his theory and then proceeded to examine the audience or readership of Bacon's Essays. It has been commonly accepted that the Essays, like many other common-place books, were written for the growing middle class. Our thorough investigation of the Essays shows, however, that in a number of essays changes in the content focuses them on the affairs of state and particularly on the duties of the King. Moreover, we note that the changes in form reveal a use of techniques common in grammar school exercises. We suggest, then, that Bacon wrote his Essays in response to the social and political needs of the era, and further, that the new essays appealed both in content and form to an elite audience rather than an exclusively middle class group. In so doing, we have offered several comments about Bacon's literary abilities in general and we have introduced a new idea regarding the development of the Essays specifically. We hope that this thesis will be of value to future Bacon scholars.</p>|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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