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EpicBritain's Heroic Muse 1790–1910$
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Herbert F. Tucker

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199232987

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199232987.001.0001

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In Style: Epic Plush 1815–1820

In Style: Epic Plush 1815–1820

Chapter:
(p.190) 5 In Style: Epic Plush 1815–1820
Source:
Epic
Author(s):

Herbert F. Tucker (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199232987.003.0005

British postwar epic disclosed fissures of faction within a national unity that had been artificially constrained by two decades' steady pressure from the enemy without. With the lifting of that pressure Scottish, Welsh, Dissenting, and female perspectives gained a fresh purchase. A new generation of Romantic poets broke with their elders' revolutionary/reactionary formation by breaking down the master narrative of trauma and healing that went with it. Instead, epic became a stylistic option, a manipulable and marketable repertory of forms. The Regency became an epic era of special effects, including Moore's epic-scented entertainment, Hunt's hedonist indulgence on Dantesque premisses, the epic resonance that Keats miraculously achieved without benefit of plot, and Shelley's utopian art of permanent revolution spinning outside history. To crown all, Byron's radical transvaluation of the genre both summed the tradition to date and, by the thoroughness of an inimitable celebrity irony, threatened to put an end to epic as his countrymen had known it.

Keywords:   postwar epic, faction, Moore, Hunt, Keats, Shelley, Byron

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