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“Things Pressing to be said”: Harriet Martineau’s mission to inform

Sanders, Valerie

Authors



Contributors

Michael D. Hurley
Editor

Marcus Waithe
Editor

Abstract

Unlike many of the other authors discussed in this collection, Martineau has rarely been read for pleasure in the artistry of her wordplay. When she mentions her writing it is with a sense, declared in her Autobiography, that ‘Things were pressing to be said.’ Her purpose was to educate, popularize, and simplify, her words essentially a vehicle for the transmission of information. Focusing on examples of her journalism, this chapter challenges the view that Martineau’s style was essentially functional, by exploring her acute rhetorical self-awareness. Building on the classical mode of composition she had learned at school, with its systematic structures and aphoristic statements, her writing is also homely, commonsensical, even volatile, often culminating in a cry of ‘What is to be done?’ as she urges her readers to embrace their social responsibilities.

Publication Date Jan 18, 2018
Publisher Oxford University Press (OUP)
Pages 118-134
Book Title Thinking through style: Non-fiction prose of the long Nineteenth Century
Chapter Number 7
ISBN 9780198737827
Institution Citation Sanders, V. (2018). “Things Pressing to be said”: Harriet Martineau’s mission to inform. In M. D. Hurley, & M. Waithe (Eds.), Thinking through style: Non-fiction prose of the long Nineteenth Century, 118-134. Oxford University Press (OUP). https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780198737827.003.0008
DOI https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780198737827.003.0008
Keywords Classical; Education; Gender; Journalism; Readers; Rhetoric; Sage writing
Publisher URL https://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/oso/9780198737827.001.0001/oso-9780198737827-chapter-8