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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: May 2009

6 - Edinburgh and Lowland Scotland

from Part II - Geographies: The Scenes of Literary Life
In the century between David Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature and Thomas Carlyle's The French Revolution Lowland Scotland became one of the advanced centres of European and North Atlantic literary culture. Scotland's entry into modernity followed its dissolution into 'North Britain' at the 1707 Union of Parliaments. The French Revolution marked a turning point in Scotland as in England, although with different dynamics. Scotland's literary eminence declined sharply after the 1830s, despite an influential spate of liberal and radical periodicals encouraged by Reform. The accumulation of urban wealth through colonial trade, agricultural improvement and early industrialization financed the institutions that comprised the republic of letters of the Lowland Scottish Enlightenment. Hugh Blair buttressed his defence of the antiquity of Fingal with the appeal to conjectural history, in an argument that exposed its circular, fictive logic. The most drastic unwriting of Scottish Romanticism occurred, however, in a sequence of works that terminated the post-Enlightenment era of national literature in Edinburgh.
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The Cambridge History of English Romantic Literature
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