Imagine that it is the middle of the eighteenth century and that you are a reviewer on the staff of one of the many magazines, journals, and literary reviews that have recently sprung up in Britain, such as the Gentlemanıs Magazine or the Critical Review. Your editor has requested that you write a review of a new work for the next issue of the journal of James Thomson's new poems "Winter" and "Autumn." Then as now, reviews serve a dual purpose: they have to describe the text for readers who know nothing about it, offering both a broad overview and a close look at how details contribute to the textıs overall impression on the reader; and they have to offer advice to the consumer, telling readers whether the text is worth their time and money. Most important, your review should be written for an eighteenth-century reader, that is, someone who has grown up reading the kind of poetry we have read to this point in the semester: Pope, certainly, but also Rochester, Behn, Finch, Swift, etc. What would be striking about this poem to a reader whose understanding of what poetry was about and what it should be like was realized through such texts? What would they admire, and what might they find familiar, interesting, puzzling, or new?
You might well want to spend a little time looking at one or more eighteenth-century journals, both of which are housed at Alderman Library. Youıll find the Gentlemanıs Magazine shelved at AP4.G3 and the Critical Review at AP4.C9. Conversely, you might want to look at modern book reviews, such as the Washington Post Book Review or the New York Times Book Review. You need not try to imitate an eighteenth-century writing style (though you can if you want), but your review should be informed by your knowledge about what eighteenth-century British writers knew, liked, and expected in a work of literature.