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The Spirit of Despotism: Invasions of Privacy in the 1790s (Hardback)
  • The Spirit of Despotism: Invasions of Privacy in the 1790s (Hardback)
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The Spirit of Despotism: Invasions of Privacy in the 1790s (Hardback)

(author)
£140.00
Hardback 294 Pages / Published: 26/01/2006
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How was the social and cultural life of Britain affected by the fear that the French Revolution would spread across the channel? In this brilliant, engagingly written, and profusely illustrated book, John Barrell, well-known for his studies of the history, literature, and art of the period, argues that the conflict between the ancien regime in Britain and the emerging democratic movement was so fundamental that it could not be contained within what had previously been thought of as the 'normal' arena of politics. Activities and spaces which had previously been regarded as 'outside' politics suddenly no longer seemed to be so, and the fear of revolution produced a culture of surveillance and suspicion which penetrated every aspect of private life. Drawing on an unusually wide range of sources, including novels, poems, plays, newspapers, debates in parliament, trials, political pamphlets, and caricatures, The Spirit of Despotism focuses on a number of examples of such invasions of privacy. It shows how the culture of suspicion affected how people spoke and behaved in London coffee-houses; how it influenced attitudes to the king's behaviour in private, especially during his summer holidays in Weymouth; how it infiltrated the country cottage, previously idealized as a protected haven of peace and retirement from political life; and how it influenced the fashion of the period, so that even the way people chose to style their hair came to be seen as a political issue.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199281206
Number of pages: 294
Weight: 598 g
Dimensions: 242 x 163 x 22 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
The substantial scholarship that underlies these essays makes this an essential work for anyone interested in this most troubled decade at the end of the eighteenth century. * Mark Philip, History Workshop Journal *
John Barrell's latest book bears all the hallmarks of his exemplary scholarship: meticulous research, a lucid and pacy prose style that renders even the most detailed or difficult material accessible and exciting, and, most importantly, a sustained level of interdisciplinary. The Spirit of Despotism builds its thesis upon an extraordinary array of sources. * David Francis Taylor, Romanticism *
so satisfyingly full are they of marvelous detail and shrewd, surprising turns of argument * Kenneth R. Johnston, Indiana University - Bloomington *
an intriguing study into the interplay between Westminster politics and real life. * Contemporary Review *
an important book... few previous inquiries have considered these issues with the depth, insight or scholarly range which this book commands. [This book] is written with the power and point that has increasingly marked John Barrell's recent work, and will provide readers with abundant enjoyment in its ability to combine telling detail with the projection of a case of wide significance. * Pat Roger, TLS *
In Imagining the King's Death (2000), John Barrell explored with great precision the interplay between law, politics and language usage during Pitt's 'Reign of Terror'. The Spirit of Despotism revisits this culture of repression and tracks its incursions into the private sphere. * Barbara Taylor, The London Review of Books, Vol 29, No 3 *
Each of these richly researched essays could stand alone, but together their cumulative effect is a provocative and stimulating depiction of the cultural effects of government repression which Barrell has analysed in such depth elsewhere. * Rural History, Volume 18/1 *

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