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Reinventing Liberty

Reinventing Liberty: Nation, Commerce and the British Historical Novel from Walpole to Scott OPEN ACCESS

Fiona Price
Copyright Date: 2016
Pages: 256
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    Reinventing Liberty
    Book Description:

    In this book researchers investigate what happened after violent protests all over the country had forced President Suharto to step down in 1998 and Indonesia successfully made the transition from an authoritarian state to a democracy.

    eISBN: 978-1-4744-0297-2
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature, Political Science
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Table of Contents

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  1. Introduction (pp. 1-22)

    The British historical novel beforeWaverley(1814) is often seen as a minor and immature form. Measured against Scott, and presumed to be tediously antiquarian, works of historical fiction are deemed relative failures or, when more successful, re-categorised.¹ This critical narrative is inaccurate – there are historical novels of considerable complexity and importance in the latter half of the eighteenth century. In the work of Scott’s predecessors historical tropes are exploited, recycled and distorted in a complex conversation about the problem of liberty. Worried about King George III’s supposed absolutist tendencies, in the 1760s historical novelists began to re-examine the balance...

  2. InA Dissertation upon Parties(1733), the politician and political philosopher Henry St John, Viscount Bolingbroke, argues that ‘If liberty is a delicious and wholesome fruit, the British constitution is the tree that bears this fruit’:

    our constitution is a system of government suited to the genius of our nation, and even to our situation. The experience of many hundred years hath shown, that by preserving this constitution inviolate, or by drawing it back to the principles on which it was originally founded, whenever it shall be made to swerve from them, we may secure to ourselves, and to our...

  3. In the opening pages of Radcliffe’sGaston de BlondevilleWilloughton’s nostalgic ‘vision’ of the past glories of Kenilworth Castle contrasts with Simpson’s harder-headed scepticism. While Willoughton declares that ‘Antiquity is one of the favourite regions of poetry’, Simpson replies: ‘Who ever thought of looking for a muse in an old castle?’ Having already seen the castle ‘by sun-light, and almost by no light at all’, Simpson has no desire to see it ‘by moonlight’ as well.¹ Willoughton’s aesthetic sense and Simpson’s practicality together contain a faint echo of the discussion between ‘Arbuthnot’ and ‘Addison’ in Richard Hurd’s Moral and Political...

  4. Cannon smoke bisects Robert Ker Porter’sBuonaparte Massacreing Fifteen Hundred Persons at Toulon[sic] (c. 1803), severing the bewildered revolutionary soldiers above from the grieving people below. In its emphasis on distress and division Porter’s picture amounts to a visual argument that the gap in French society is not, as might be supposed, between the people and the forces of theancien régime, but between the people and the Revolution itself. As the dead lover and unfortunate mother at the bottom of the picture suggest, the mode of government fractures romance and prevents the reproduction of family and polis. Yet...

  5. ‘HAIL! Noble ages of ancient chivalry!’, wrote C. Butler: ‘It is in your glorious annals, in the historic page, that we must seek for examples of pure and constant affection, for models of perfect virtue, since the age in which we live cannot, alas! supply them.’¹ The opening toThe Age of Chivalry(1799) suggests a breakage or fall, the nature of which is indicated by the title page: the book is an adaption ofKnights of the Swanby ‘Madame Genlis’.² Genlis’s book had contained what some regarded as a rather cruel portrait of Queen Marie Antoinette, a queen...

  6. Writing to her sister in 1821, Jane Porter makes a claim concerning her influence on Scott, which she repeats in the 1831 Standard Novels edition ofThaddeus of Warsaw.¹ Recounting a conversation between ‘Sir Andrew Haliday’, the King and Walter Scott on the ‘admiration’ felt forTales of my Landlord and Waverley, she has ‘Haliday’ interject:

    ‘Well Sir, who ever may be the author of those Novels; you, Sir Walter, must allow that the foundation of them all were laid by Miss Porter in herScottish Chiefs.’ ‘I grant it;’/replied Sir Walter, ‘there is something in what you say.’²


  7. Conclusion (pp. 207-216)

    Writing in an uncertain age of revolution, historical novelists of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries struggled with both the meaning of history and the shape of the future. Even following Scott’s creation of a tradition of transformation in the Waverley Novels, the motif of breakage and the apparent triumph of commerce remained disquieting. Although Thomas Carlyle argues that a healthy approach to the past is possible, inThe French Revolution(1837) he offers a troubled reading of history as fundamentally pessimistic: ‘the Event, the thing which can be spoken of, is it not in all cases, some disruption,...

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International
This book is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International.
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