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This chapter helps expand our understanding of what critique is. Drawing on Reinhart Koselleck’s work and paying close attention to the political and social situation under which critique emerged as a practice in England around 1700, it argues that critique forms in a cluster around other related rhetorical forms, in particular, irony, abuse, wit. It does so in a society that is reluctantly coming to know itself as politically divided. The chapter make its argument by addressing two particular cases—Jonathan Swift’s political journalism and John Brown’s Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the Times (1757), which was one of the very first examples of critique as we now know it.

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