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The birth of romantic radicalism : war, popular politics, and English radical reformism, 1800-1815 /
Peter Spence.
Aldershot, England : Scolar Press ; Brookfield, Vt., USA : Ashgate Pub. Co., c1996.
ix, 277 p. ; 24 cm.
More Details
Aldershot, England : Scolar Press ; Brookfield, Vt., USA : Ashgate Pub. Co., c1996.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. [221]-263) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1996-06-01:
Spence (Univ. of Auckland) describes the revival of radical agitation during the Napoleonic Wars, especially 1807-11. Reacting to early military reverses in the Peninsular Campaign and to evidence of both military and political corruption, radicals like Burdett and Cobbett temporarily gained popular support for the idea that reform of the political system was necessary for England's survival against Napoleon. Dropping the "Jacobin" natural rights arguments that had been suppressed in the 1790s, these radicals adopted "romantic" ideals of nationalism and tradition to bolster their appeal. After 1811, however, the government's counterattack, contradictions within the radical movement and its ideology, and emerging military success turned back the radical momentum. Spence's argument often smacks of overintellectualization, and his conclusions about the importance of the legacy of this brand of radicalism fail to convince. Undergraduate libraries can do without this book. J. W. Auld California State University, Dominguez Hills
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, June 1996
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Bowker Data Service Summary
This book explores the inter-relationship between political activity, popular opinion, constitutional reform and international affairs to provide a much-needed review of radical activity in the first decade of the 19th century.
Long Description
Popular radicalism was repressed in Britain in the 1790s, perceived as inspired by the French Revolution and therefore disloyal, but by 1809 it was the most respected voice of opposition to Tory policies in the House of Commons and the country.This is an account of the transformation, concentrating on the relationship between political activity, popular opinion, international affairs and constitutional reform. It is also an attack on the Whig, Marxist and revisionist assertions as to the nature of popular radicalism. Most importantly, it is an appraisal of the way in which radicalism became more popular by adopting the rhetoric of romanticism, the language of the elite, and so was able to criticise the government and national institutions 'from within' without fear of accusations of treason. Finally it is an explanation of the failure of romanticism as a political idea, and how it provoked a class-based split between Free traders and Chartists.
Table of Contents
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