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The poetic invocation of sympathy to make political arguments about war began in the eighteenth century. During the first decade two features emerged that would become conventions of war poetry. It enters the public sphere to make a political case, and (following Joseph Addison) it treats war as a secular event. In response to the rhetorical challenges presented by these conventions, Tobias Smollett, William Collins, and Thomas Warton fashioned a new mode of war poetry in the 1740s. Without recourse to religion or supernatural mythology, they sought rhetorical authority in sympathetic feeling. Their poems represent war through the imagination of obscure participants’ experience and deploy the representation for political argument.