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Anxieties about decline were a prominent feature of British public discourse in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. These anxieties were borne out repeatedly in books and periodicals, pamphlets and poems. Tracing the reciprocal development of Romantic-era Britain's rapidly expanding literary and market cultures through the lens of decline, Jonathan Sachs offers a fresh way of understanding British Romanticism. The book focuses on three aspects of literary experience - questions of value, the fascination with ruins, and the representation of slow time - to explore how shifting conceptions of progress and change inform a post-enlightenment sense of cultural decline. Combining close readings of Romantic literary texts with an examination of works from political economy, historical writing, classical studies, and media history the book reveals for the first time how anxieties about decline impacted literary form and shaped Romantic debates about poetry and the meaning of literature.Read more
- Provides new perspectives on British Romanticism by exploring ideas of decline in literary and wider cultural contexts
- Offers close readings of texts that focus on three aspects of literary experience: questions of value, the fascination with ruins and literature's market culture
- Draws on a wide range of literary texts alongside works of political economy, historical writing, classical studies, and media history
Reviews & endorsements
'… themes of decline have been downplayed in Romantic-period studies. [Sachs'] thorough, elegant monograph redresses this neglect … Highly recommended.' N. Birns, Choice
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- Date Published: February 2018
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9781108420310
- length: 246 pages
- dimensions: 235 x 157 x 18 mm
- weight: 0.5kg
- contains: 6 b/w illus.
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. From morals to measurement: scaling time, anticipating the future, and quantifying decline in Gibbon, Smith and Playfair
2. The decline of literature: acceleration, print saturation, and media time
3. The politics of prediction: Anna Barbauld and the ruins of London
4. On ruins: contingency, time parallax, and 'the ruined cottage'
5. Coleridge's slow time
6. Fast time, slow time, deep time: the pace of romanticism.
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