Employing the persona of a Chinese philosopher, Oliver Goldsmith in The Citizen of the World (1762) examines the changing roles of the professional author and critic in the literary marketplace. Through other, various outsider personae, Goldsmith questions whether popular literature can establish cultural and moral authority over an expanding readership. In adapting the genre of oriental correspondence to periodical journalism, particularly the commercial newspaper the Public Ledger where the "Chinese letters" originally appeared, Goldsmith ironically critiques the utility and authenticity of such fictions. Although the Chinese philosopher represents cosmopolitan and enlightened tradition, he fails as a potential arbiter of polite taste. He also fails to reconcile the writer's obligations to instruct and amuse. The professional author in The Citizen of the World is increasingly marginalized, facing a widening gulf between his material and his desired audience, a forerunner of the sentimentalized persona that would establish Goldsmith's posthumous reputation.
"The Solitary Animal: Professional Authorship and Persona in Goldsmith's The Citizen of the World,"
1, Article 8.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.mcmaster.ca/ecf/vol25/iss1/8
Megan Kitching is a PhD candidate in English Literature at Queen Mary, University of London. Her thesis investigates conceptions of natural order in philosophical poems of the eighteenth century. Research for this article was undertaken at the University of Otago, with support from the university's Postgraduate Publishing Bursary. This article is the winner of the 2011 Eighteenth-Century Fiction Graduate Essay Prize.