Charles Harpur (1813–68) is recognised in his native Australia as a pioneering Romantic poet, but his achievements are little recognised elsewhere. This essay considers his contribution to the development of Romantic tragedy. He wrote two tragedies, The Bushrangers (1853, orig. 1835), a gothic bandit drama in the tradition of Schiller’s Die Räuber (1781), and King Saul (c. 1838), an incomplete Biblical drama apparently inspired by Byron’s Cain: A Mystery (1821). Like many European playwrights of the period, Harpur was deeply influenced by the new kinds of melodrama that were sweeping the stage, but also sought to distinguish his literary productions from more popular fare. His alienation from the popular theatre was exacerbated by his colonial context, where strict censorship, rising snobbery and plentiful cultural imports from Britain stifled the early efforts of nationalist, convict-born writers like himself. These contexts help to explain three distinctive aspects of Harpur’s Romantic tragedies: they were direct in an age when drama was often evasive, radical even in an age of revolution, and mystical in an age of increasing religious scepticism. Whatever his theatrical merits, Harpur was a bold playwright who worked through controversial political and aesthetic problems in a remarkably explicit way. Continue reading →
As the most infamous novel publisher of the Romantic period, William Lane’s Minerva Press garnered significant attention in the book review periodicals of the day. This article uses the Novels Reviewed Database, 1790–1820 and quantitative methodologies to track the ways that Lane, his press and the novels it published, were presented to England’s reading public while the press flourished. The Reviews critique the novels’ subject matter, originality, the material makeup of the printed books and gendered authorship. Taking up that data, this article provides a qualitative analysis of the long reaching implications of the rhetoric deployed by the Reviews in their scathing criticisms, and traces how it continues to pervade modern scholarship on the press today. Continue reading →
Proposals are invited for the 2015 British Association for Romantic Studies international conference which will be held at Cardiff University, Wales (UK) on 16–19 July 2015. The theme of the interdisciplinary conference is Romantic Imprints, … Continue reading →
With the recent publication of the RCUK revised guidelines on Open Access publication of publicly funded research, set amidst the broader (and often polemical) debates surrounding open access in general, I thought it would be … Continue reading →
Did Ireland experience Romanticism? Certainly not in the uncomplicated way that scholarship assumes England, Germany and other countries did. In Romanticism in National Context (1988), Tom Dunne’s contribution eschews the standard chapter title form—‘Romanticism in … Continue reading →
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