Monday, July 27, 2009

Why Joseph Addison?

One can't really have Steele without Addison. If the two names are forever linked, Addison is forever the senior partner. Captain Steele, as a character, appeals more to modern sensibilities, and to me, but Addison, the poet & politician, the moralist and essayist, the colder personality but the better brain, deserves to be included, as he is, not just in any survey of English literature, but in the libraries and experience of any reader of English prose.

As pompous as such an introduction sounds, he really does deserve no less. And he rewards reading and rereading as few other writers do; he is amusing, thoughtful, careful and better the better one knows him. There aren't really that many writers who can be begun again as soon as they've been read through once without the reader feeling anything but happy anticipation in the chance to find still more.

Why Joseph Addison? Because I wanted to read this essay again.

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