This chapter introduces some of the main themes of the book. It discusses the importance of the relation between candour and humanity in the arguments of Adam Smith and Adam Ferguson, and considers their implications for the dispute between William Godwin and John Thelwall over the relative merits of public oratory, conversation, or the printed word. It links these arguments to the concerns over the commercialisation of literature and the author’s relation to an increasingly inclusive readership, and introduces the discussion of the importance of sentiment to women writers in this context.
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