Five Long Winters: The Trials of British Romanticism

Five Long Winters: The Trials of British Romanticism

Five Long Winters: The Trials of British Romanticism

Five Long Winters: The Trials of British Romanticism

Excerpt

Five Long Winters argues that the repressions of the government of William Pitt had a constitutive role in the formation of early Romantic-era writing. At stake in my argument is a reinvestigation of a model of the period’s literary history that might be called the excitement-to-apostasy arc: the notion that the outbreak of the French Revolution inspired a burst of democratic energy in British culture in the early 1790s, but that this excitement speedily dissipated as the Parisian scene grew violent, turning most supporters of the revolution into its opponents with the guillotining of King Louis XVI in January 1793. In this narrative, those hardy souls who continued to support the revolutionary cause went underground, while many familiar writers turned to aesthetic escapism or reactionary conservatism. But this account presupposes a climate in which writers felt able to write (and find publishers for) anything they pleased, and that within this Habermasian dream a wide swath of previously progressive writers suddenly chose to abandon their political ideals. I reassess this version of literary history both for what it misses and for what it loses. What it misses is the counterevidence: few Romantic-era writers changed their thoughts about reform politics with the execution of Louis XVI. Many were wary of . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.