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    Ramsey, Neil and Russell, Gillian 2015. Tracing War in British Enlightenment and Romantic Culture. p. 1.

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

13 - Writing, reading and the scenes of war

from Part II - Geographies: The Scenes of Literary Life
Summary
To understand how war found its place in British literature in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, one might follow William Cowper's lead when, in The Task he organizes the scene of war around the figure of the post-boy. Cowper's post-boy offers but one example of how a war fought on foreign ground and distant seas came home to England. Wartime creates itself out of continual, daily reading: the facts shift from day to day, from excerpt to excerpt, yielding the sense that no single instalment will deliver the truth and yet every snippet is crucial. Military historians remind us that, for infantrymen and cavalrymen, warfare in the age of Napoleon consisted primarily of the tedium of waiting. Registering the agony of those waiting for news of war, one begin to realize how frequently war's pain is transferred from the body of the soldier to those Coleridge calls 'spectators and non-combatants', from battlefield to home.
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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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