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Rethinking British Romantic History, 1770–1845$
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Porscha Fermanis and John Regan

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199687084

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199687084.001.0001

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Magazines, Don Juan, and the Scotch Novels

Magazines, Don Juan, and the Scotch Novels

Deep and Shallow Time in the Regency

(p.165) 7 Magazines, Don Juan, and the Scotch Novels
Rethinking British Romantic History, 1770–1845

Richard Cronin

Oxford University Press

In order to explain Walter Scott’s extraordinary popularity, this chapter distinguishes between forms of print culture in the Regency period with historical depth (the ‘history-full’), and those with powerful associations of shallowness (the ‘history-less’). It argues that the historical novel uniquely met the contradictory demands of a new readership by offering its readers an experience of deep time in the most shallow of literary forms. This discrepancy between the content and form of Scott’s novels points to a wider concern, articulated in very different ways by Byron, Wordsworth, and others, with the mass circulation and marketing of print culture, and, in particular, with the shallowness of the ephemeral press. Scott’s novels were the publishing sensation of the post-Waterloo years because they performed the balancing act between deep and shallow time more powerfully than any other writing of the period.

Keywords:   Regency, Walter Scott, Lord Byron, William Wordsworth, Don Juan, Scotch novels, deep time, shallow time, print culture, popular press

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