One of my main contentions in this book is that issues of cultural provinciality played a central role in eighteenth-century British literary culture. Writers of the period understood that literature was not just a matter of artistic achievement but of cultural power. Individual achievements, in their view, took place within the space defined by the broader question of the standing of the cultural tradition of which they were a part—and cultural prestige, they knew, was in turn linked to the geopolitical power of the polity whose culture was in question. These connections have been brought under renewed scrutiny through the lense of postcolonial cultural criticism, but they involve an old recognition of the interplay of cultural and geopolitical power in the shaping of cultural status. What is harder for us to recognize is that across the Restoration and the eighteenth century, English-language writers saw themselves as in need of establishing the value of the cultural tradition in which they operated—certainly for the audience constituted by the wider world, but, consequently, to a certain extent for their own eyes as well.


English Language Eighteenth Century British Isle Literary Tradition Literary Culture 
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    This seems to me to mark the major limitation of the otherwise compelling recent scholarly work by Robert Crawford, Leith Davis, Janet Sorensen, and others on Anglo-Scottish literary and cultural relations since the Union of 1707. By focusing its attention on domestic “British” contexts, such work fails to assess the intersections of domestic hegemony, European rivalry, and overseas imperialism in the construction of the empire of English.Google Scholar

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