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FAQ

What the hell is a Hazlitt?
Englishman William Hazlitt was a nineteenth-century journalist, critic, and essayist. He lived in tumultuous, fast-changing times, marked by the French Revolution, the musical innovations of Beethoven, and the first steam locomotive—times not so unlike the uncertain world we live in today.

Hazlitt was staunchly independent. It’s said he kept bad habits (ill-advised romances, shirking his rent, a fondness for prostitutes) and had a difficult character. He’s been described as obsessive, unconventional, gloomy, and tactless in social situations; his outspokenness and liberal beliefs earned him enemies in the Tory establishment, and their attacks often made it difficult for him to earn a living. His interests as a writer were wide-ranging. Arguing that the imagination, not reason, is what makes it possible for us to sympathize with others, he wrote vociferously against the utilitarian and rationalist philosophies used to justify the slave trade.  Meanwhile, he was criticized for writing about “low-subjects” such as boxing.

Though he is now almost entirely out of print, you can draw a direct line from Hazlitt’s writings to those of George Orwell, Lionel Trilling, Susan Sontag, J.M. Coetzee, Mark Kingwell, and Christopher Hitchens. Inspired by the French essayist Michel de Montagine, Hazlitt wrote a series of essays called “Table Talk” that combined the conversational with what was then the more conventionally literary. In them he replaced the personal “I” with the editorial “we.” So you might call him the original blogger.

Do you publish only Random House authors?
No. We sometimes publish Random House authors, and talk about Random House books, or use them as the starting point for conversations, but we publish a lot of other writers, too, and reference other publishers’ books—as well as producing features and blog posts on just about anything that interests us.

How often do you publish?
We aspire to publish every day.

Can I contribute?
You can indeed! Here’s how.