Masculinity and Friendship in the Eighteenth Century
Over the course of his life, which spanned the eighteenth century from 1717 to 1797, Horace Walpole wrote thousands of letters to his closest friends and acquaintances. In this study, George E. Haggerty considers the letters themselves, arguing that they need to be appreciated on their own terms as one of the great literary accomplishments of the eighteenth century, on a par with Boswell's Life of Johnson and Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. In the aggregate, Walpole's letters offer an astonishing account of the vagaries of eighteenth century life and of an intimate view of an alternative masculinity. Walpole talks about himself obsessively: his wants, his needs, his desires; his physical and mental pain; his artistic appreciation and his critical responses - and with critical tact and historical insight, Haggerty elicits the contours of his complex personality. Looking closely at Walpole's personal relationships, his needs and aspirations, his emotionalism, and his rationality - in short, his construction of himself - Haggerty opens a window onto both the history of masculinity in the eighteenth century and the codification of friendship as the preeminent value in Western culture.
About the author:
George Haggerty is Distinguished Professor of English at University of California, Riverside.