Imagining the King's Death: Figurative Treason, Fantasies of Regicide, 1793-1796 (Hardback)
  • Imagining the King's Death: Figurative Treason, Fantasies of Regicide, 1793-1796 (Hardback)
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Imagining the King's Death: Figurative Treason, Fantasies of Regicide, 1793-1796 (Hardback)

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£240.00
Hardback 756 Pages / Published: 16/03/2000
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It is high treason in British law to 'imagine' the king's death. But after the execution of Louis XVI in 1793, everyone in Britain must have found themselves imagining that the same fate might befall George III. How easy was it to distinguish between fantasising about the death of George and 'imagining' it, in the legal sense of 'intending' or 'designing'? John Barrell examines this question in the context of the political trials of the mid-1790s and the controversies they generated. He shows how the law of treason was adapted in the years following Louis's death to punish what was acknowledged to be a 'modern' form of treason unheard of when the law had been framed. The result, he argues, was the invention of a new, an imaginary, a 'figurative' treason, by which the question of who was imagining the king's death, the supposed traitors or those who charged them with treason, became inescapable.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780198112921
Number of pages: 756
Weight: 1417 g
Dimensions: 244 x 165 x 46 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
John Barrell's book crosses the boundaries between literary criticism and history. It throws light not just upon the changing use of language and its deployment, but on the operation of the law in the 18th century, the use of propaganda, the exercise of state power and the ability of opponents of government both to defend themselves and to attack their oppressors. * Mortality *
Replete with primary source material, a mastery of historical detail and a range of careful and subtly crafted arguments ... fascinating and scholarly enquiry. * Mortality *
From playbills to trial transcripts, from caricatures to poems, from pamphlets to parliamentary debates: all of these are brought marvellously alive by Barrell ... but the real significance of Imagining the King's Death seems to me to be the challenge it sets to those of us who would wish to read the culture of the past in the fullest way imaginable * The Review of English Studies *
A review cannot do more than sketch in the detailed subject matter and the closely argued thesis presented in a book of this length, complexity and subtlety. What needs to be made abundantly clear is that this is a work of the finest scholarship. Imagining the King's Death is deeply researched, rigorously argued and beautifully written. What makes it a work of such distinction is its originality ... Historians of all kinds will learn from John Barrell's efforts that they have much to learn from such a detailed, rigorous and sophisticated reading of vitally important political texts. * H. T. Dickinson, Times Literary Supplement *
The detail is meticulous and the account magisterial ... Barrell's grasp of legal argument and distortion, his detailed reconstruction of the activities of the reformers and those who sought to restrain them, and his literary eye for ambiguity and rhetorical play make the book a magnificent achievement. * The Times Higher Education Supplement 07/12/2001 *

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