Chapter published in:Diachronic Developments in English News Discourse
Edited by Minna Palander-Collin, Maura Ratia and Irma Taavitsainen
[Advances in Historical Sociolinguistics 6] 2017
► pp. 81–96
A modest proposal in The Gentleman’s Magazine
A peculiar eighteenth-century advertisement
The Gentleman’s Magazine (GM, 1732–1922) was the first periodical magazine targeted at an educated lay readership from polite society. Medical items and related issues were a regular feature, e.g. suicide was a recurring topic in its early years. One example of this was a 1755 mock advertisement advocating a discreet “remedy against life” suitable to “any nobleman, gentleman, or other man of wit, humour, and pleasure”. We approach our task from the point of view of historical pragmatics paying attention to the sociocultural context, and providing a rhetorical analysis to make sense of this peculiar advertisement. The ad seems to build on the dark side of a recently-deceased (1751), notorious Tory politician, who had been a central figure of polite society for decades, but the actual target of the satire must have been something else. We argue that the sociohistorical context with its shared knowledge, as well as the rhetorical structure and stylistic content of the ad itself, provide keys for making sense of the text.
Keywords: genre, period style, polite society, satire, irony, rhetorical analysis, pragmatic analysis, context, advertisement
Published online: 29 August 2017
Burney collection of Newspapers
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