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

Introduction

Summary

Like the other volumes of the new Cambridge History of English Literature, this one offers a collaborative account for one of the recognized periods of a rich and complex literary history – one far richer and more complex, indeed, than the compromise category of ‘English Literature’ can capture. Like the other volumes, it builds on the extensive scholarship that has been undertaken in the field since the publication of the first History of English Literature by Cambridge early in the twentieth century. Like the others, too, it is responsive to major shifts in critical frameworks and historiographical assumptions over recent decades. Finally, like the others, and in keeping with the Press’s own directive for the new History as a whole, it is organized and executed in a way that ‘reflects the particular characteristics of the period covered’. In that last consideration, logically enough, lies a key to this volume’s special place and character among the other volumes.

By comparison with periods traditionally defined by century demarcations, or by the reigns of monarchs, the Romantic age has often been marked off in ways that are at once less arbitrary and more so. Some of its characteristic boundaries – 1789, 1783 and 1776, on the early side, and 1832 on the far side – are dates primarily of political significance, years associated with rebellion and revolution on the one hand, and with reform on the other.

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The Cambridge History of English Romantic Literature
  • Online ISBN: 9781139055970
  • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521790079
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