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The Italian Idea
Anglo-Italian Radical Literary Culture, 1815–1823


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Part of Cambridge Studies in Romanticism

  • Date Published: January 2020
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108491969

£ 75.00

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About the Authors
  • From 1815 to 1823 the Italian influence on English literature was at its zenith. While English tourists flocked to Italy, a pervasive Italianism coloured many facets of London life, including poetry, periodicals, translation, and even the Queen's trial of 1820. In this engaging study Will Bowers considers this radical interaction by pursuing two interrelated analyses. The first examines the Italian literary and political ideas absorbed by Romantic poets, particularly Lord Byron, Leigh Hunt, and Percy Bysshe Shelley. The second uncovers the ambassadorial role played in London by Italians, such as Serafino Buonaiuti and Ugo Foscolo, who promoted a revolutionary idea of their homeland and its literature, particularly Dante's Commedia. This dual-perspective study reveals the cosmopolitan challenge to Regency mores embodied in both the work of Italian literary exiles in London and the English poetic engagement with Italy.

    • Provides an original perspective on how influential Italian ideas radicalised English Romantic poets between 1815 and 1823
    • Offers new readings of work by writers including Leigh Hunt, Lord Byron, and Percy Bysshe Shelley based on archival research of their Italian reading, and original manuscript research
    • Enters into a comprehensive discussion of the Italian poetry and philosophy that was at the centre of a Regency counter-culture
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    • Short-listed, 2021 First Book Prize, British Association for Romantic Studies

    Reviews & endorsements

    'As an ambitious and challenging reflection on the wider implications of the Anglo-Italian cultural interaction in the early nineteenth century, The Italian Idea makes a significant contribution to the field of Anglo-Italian studies and literary history. It exemplifies a new kind of intellectual and political awareness - more trans-European and less national - of the radical writers of the time. But the real strength of this study lies in the range of Bowers' erudition.' Maria Schoina, Review 19

    'The volume is clearly structured, each chapter is introduced by a short introductory overview and written in a captivating style … The conclusion leaves the reader feeling that the author could provide a continuation to this impressive and learned study …' Antonella Braida, The Review of English Studies

    'A hugely significant contribution to scholarship in this area, The Italian Idea sketches a variegated map, valuable both for the broader directions of travel it indicates and for the insights into seemingly accessory features … A rewardingly rich and continuously stimulating read, Bowers's The Italian Idea invites us to plunge into a short and fervid cultural-ideological phase in order to recover the full extent of one of the most distinctive facets of Italia romantica in British culture of the Romantic age.' Diego Saglia, Modern Philology

    'This meticulous survey carefully contextualizes second-generation British Romantic writers' texts … proving that a study of Anglo-Italian cross-currents provides additional insights … One of this study's great strengths is the wealth of diverse material Bowers welds together, combining reflections on authors' influence; rhyme schemes; sub-genres such as romance, the satirical mode, history, translation; mediator figures; and even advertising (in Beppo) to add new angles of analysis.' Susanne Schmid, The BARS Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2020
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108491969
    • length: 296 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 160 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.56kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Italians and the 'public mind' before 1815
    2. The genesis of an Italian style
    3. Foscolo, Hobhouse, and Holland House
    4. Venice redefined
    5. An almost revolutionary queen
    6. Sailing in the wind's eye.

  • Author

    Will Bowers, Queen Mary University of London
    Will Bowers is Lecturer in Eighteenth-Century Literature and Thought at Queen Mary University of London. He has published widely on Leigh Hunt, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, and Lord Byron in journals such as Essays in Criticism, Review of English Studies, and Romanticism on Net, and is the co-editor of Re-evaluating the Literary Coterie 1580–1830 (2016).


    • Short-listed, 2021 First Book Prize, British Association for Romantic Studies

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