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Radical Orientalism
Rights, Reform, and Romanticism

Part of Cambridge Studies in Romanticism

  • Date Published: July 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107110328

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  • This fascinating study reveals the extent to which the Orientalism of Byron and the Shelleys resonated with the reformist movement of the Romantic era. It documents how and why radicals like Bentham, Cobbett, Carlile, Hone and Wooler, among others in post-Revolutionary Britain, invoked Turkey, North Africa and Mughal India when attacking and seeking to change their government's domestic policies. Examining a broad archive ranging from satires, journalism, tracts, political and economic treatises, and public speeches, to the exotic poetry and fictions of canonical Romanticism, Gerard Cohen-Vrignaud shows that promoting colonization was not Orientalism's sole ideological function. Equally vital was its aesthetic and rhetorical capacity to alienate the people's affection from their rulers and fuel popular opposition to regressive taxation, penal cruelty, police repression, and sexual regulation.

    • Offers new readings of Romantic Orientalism based on internal politics rather than imperial context
    • Explains the importance of Lord Byron's Orientalism to his poetic career and contemporary fame
    • Mines rare and unread radical satires, journalism and tracts to illuminate Romantic-era reformism
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… this is a fascinating and rewarding study that sheds new light on established ideas about British Romanticism's engagement with the 'Orient' while pointing to further issues yet to be addressed.' Cian Duffy, Modern Philology

    '… Cohen-Vrignaud's rich study demonstrates that there is still much to debate and discuss, and it will provide a valuable scholarly resource.' James Watt, Review of English Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2015
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107110328
    • length: 280 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 17 x 152 mm
    • weight: 0.55kg
    • contains: 15 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: radical Orientalism and the rights of man
    1. Cruel and unusual romance: Beckford, Byron, and the abomination of violence
    2. Reading the Oriental Riot Act: petition, assembly, and Shelley's constitutional sublime
    3. Splendors and miseries of the British Sultanate: economic Orientalism, inequality, and radical satire
    4. Reasoning like a Turk: indolence and fatalism in Sardanapalus and The Last Man
    5. Byronic infidelity and despotic individuality: sex, religion, and free agency
    Bibliography.

  • Author

    Gerard Cohen-Vrignaud, University of Tennessee
    Gerard Cohen-Vrignaud is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Tennessee. He has published articles in English Literary History, Modern Language Quarterly, Studies in Romanticism, Nineteenth-Century Literature, the Dickens Studies Annual, and Differences.

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