William Hazlitt

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the life and works of William Hazlitt. Hazlitt is best known for his essays, which ranged in subject matter from Shakespeare, through his first meeting with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, to a boxing match. What is less well-known, however, is that he began his writing life as a philosopher, before deliberately abandoning the field for journalism. Nonetheless, his early reasoning about the power of the imagination to take human beings beyond narrow self-interest, as encapsulated in his 'Essay on the Principles of Human Action', shines through his more popular work.Hazlitt is a figure full of contradictions - a republican who revered Napoleon, and a radical who admired the conservative philosopher Edmund Burke. His reputation suffered terribly from his book 'Liber Amoris', a self-revealing memoir of his infatuation with his landlady's daughter. But in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, his importance was acknowledged by writers like Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson and Ford Madox Ford. In the 180 years since his death, his stature as perhaps the finest essayist in the language has grown and grown. With:Jonathan BateProfessor of English Literature at the University of Warwick Anthony GraylingProfessor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of LondonUttara NatarajanSenior Lecturer in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Goldsmiths College, University of LondonProducer: Phil Tinline.

Release date:

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Thu 8 Apr 2010 21:30

Related topics

Featured in...

The In Our Time Quiz, 2017

The American Populists

Melvyn covered a huge range of subjects in 2017. How much do you remember?

The In Our Time Listeners' Top 10

Hildegard of Bingen

If you’re new to In Our Time, this is a good place to start.

The Matter of the North

BBC_R4_MELVYN_BRAGG_AHW-1920.jpg

Melvyn Bragg explores the pivotal role of England's north in shaping modern Britain.

In Our Time podcasts

In Our Time podcasts

Every episode of In Our Time is available to download.

Arts and Ideas podcast

Arts and Ideas podcast

Download the best of Radio 3's Free Thinking programme.