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British Romanticism and Continental Influences

Writing in an Age of Europhobia

British Romanticism and Continental Influences by Peter Mortensen
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During the 1790s and 1800s, cultural critics became convinced that Britain was being 'flooded', 'deluged' or 'inundated' by pernicious literary translations imported from the European Continent. Evoking a rhetoric of paranoid Europhobia, British wartime commentators routinely stigmatized popular foreign writers like Bürger, Schiller, Kotzebue and Rousseau not merely as political dissenters, but as enemies of all civilization and ultimately as Satanic rebels against God.
British Romanticism and Continental Influences discusses some first-generation Romantic writers' ambivalent responses to the scandalous products of European pre-Romanticism. Celebrated poets and novelists such as Words-worth, Coleridge, Scott and Austen vocally denounced Continental texts and writers for deliberately demoralizing vulnerable British
readers. Yet, paradoxically, the same prominent figures (as well as a host of lesser names) also flirted dangerously with the foreign, borrowing paraphernalia from those non-British writers whose influence they claimed to counteract. This book centres on British Romantic writers' complex transactions with those outlandish texts which both attracted and repulsed them, and which they both imitated and revised. Confronted with the perceived abominations of illicit and non-conformist writing, Mortensen argues, the Romantic writers publicly distanced themselves from European sensationalism, even as they assimilated its conventions in their own discourse.
Palgrave Macmillan; February 2004
239 pages; ISBN 9780230512207
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Title: British Romanticism and Continental Influences
Author: Peter Mortensen
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