The Spirit of Despotism
Invasions of Privacy in the 1790s
By (author) John Barrell
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Spirit of Despotism by John Barrell
Book DescriptionHow was the social and cultural life of Britain affected by the fear that the French Revolution would spread across the channel? In this brilliant, engagingly written, and profusely illustrated book, John Barrell, well-known for his studies of the history, literature, and art of the period, argues that the conflict between the ancien regime in Britain and the emerging democratic movement was so fundamental that it could not be contained within what had previously been thought of as the 'normal' arena of politics. Activities and spaces which had previously been regarded as 'outside' politics suddenly no longer seemed to be so, and the fear of revolution produced a culture of surveillance and suspicion which penetrated every aspect of private life. Drawing on an unusually wide range of sources, including novels, poems, plays, newspapers, debates in parliament, trials, political pamphlets, and caricatures, The Spirit of Despotism focuses on a number of examples of such invasions of privacy. It shows how the culture of suspicion affected how people spoke and behaved in London coffee-houses; how it influenced attitudes to the king's behaviour in private, especially during his summer holidays in Weymouth; how it infiltrated the country cottage, previously idealized as a protected haven of peace and retirement from political life; and how it influenced the fashion of the period, so that even the way people chose to style their hair came to be seen as a political issue.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780199281206
(242mm x 163mm x 22mm)
Imprint: Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publish Date: 26-Jan-2006
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
Books By Author John Barrell
Edward Pugh of Ruthin 1763-1813, Paperback (March 2013)
This book is the first to explore the work of the nearly forgotten Welsh artist and writer Edward Pugh (1763-1813), a fascinating painter of the landscapes of North Wales and a brilliant observer of Welsh rural life.
Idea of Landscape and the Sense of Place 1730-1840, Paperback (February 2011)
This 1972 text takes John Clare as the focus of different attitudes to landscape as something to have a 'taste' for.
Trials for Treason and Sedition, 1792-1794, Hardback (May 2007)
The period 1792-94 witnessed the emergence of the first genuinely popular radical movement in Britain. After the phenomenal success of Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man", the government moved swiftly to prevent French republican ideas taking hold in Britain, beginning with the prosecution of Paine himself in absentia. This book focuses on this period.
Imagining the King's Death, Hardback (March 2000)» View all books by John Barrell
After Louis XVI's execution in 1793, the same fate could be envisaged befalling George III. How could courts distinguish between fantasizing about it, and imagining it in the legal sense of intending or designing? This question is examined in the context of the political trials of the mid-1790s.
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Author Biography - John Barrell
John Barrell is the author of numerous books on the literature, art, and history of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. He has taught at the universities of Essex, Cambridge, and Sussex, and for the last twelve years has been at the University of York, where he is a Professor of English in the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies.
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