February 9th, 2011, 3:00 p.m. in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Alexander Pettit, professor of English at the University of North Texas, will deliver a talk entitled "Samuel Richardson's Aesop's Fables (1739): Unexpected Decency." Drawing on his research for his forthcoming edition of Richardson's early work, Pettit will demonstrate that Richardson, having spent much of the 1730s trading in illiberal and hidebound anonymous polemic, found in Sir Roger L'Estrange's edition of Aesop (1692) a text into which he could incorporate his burgeoning sense of political and religious moderation. Richardson's adaptation of L'Estrange initiates a brief period of tonal generosity in the writer's career, distinct both from the nastiness of his earliest work and what Coleridge called the "oozy, hypocritical, praise-mad, canting, envious, [and] concupiscent" nature of his famous novels. The talk will incorporate commentary on the extremely rare copy of Richardson's Aesop held by The Rare Book & Manuscript Library. All are welcome and refreshments will be served!