New on RSB, a lovely piece from Ben Granger on the no-longer-read William Hazlitt:

The tides of literary posterity crash in unpredictable ways, and the vagaries of what makes an author feted in one age, ignored in the next are often mysterious. Near namesakes Sinclair Lewis and Upton Sinclair were considered the greatest American novelists of the early twentieth century, but are little read these days. It’s diverting to ponder which contemporary author will be read with regularity 50 years from now. I wager Irvine Welsh will last longer than Ian McEwan, spring the results of that one on me in the nursing home.

Perhaps the biggest mystery of all concerns that of William Hazlitt... during the man’s lifetime everyone in literary England had a view on Hazlitt, adoration and loathing in equal measure. The name caused heartbeats to skip, whether from ardour or horror, but it certainly wasn’t ignored. So just why is the finest essayist of the early nineteenth century now so little read? (More...)

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