[identity profile] camille-love.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] revolution_fr
Dear all,

I’m a Ph.D. student in English literature at an American university. As part of my work for next year (my third year), I need to pass a comprehensive exam in order to move on to the dissertation stage. My field of study is British literature and culture circa 1789-1914 (otherwise known as the long 19th century), and I’m incredibly interested in British responses to the French Revolution. For my exam, I chose two periods (18th and 19th-century British literature). The lists are quite general, featuring canonical works; however, I can tailor them to fit my personal research interests, with an eye to the dissertation topic...

To this end, one of my advisors suggested that I create a bibliography of British literature from the 18th and 19th centuries that relate to the French Revolution, which I would add to my reading list for the exam. I’ve put together a short list based on what I’m aware is out there, but I would appreciate the input of this community. If you can, please recommend any British literature (poetry, drama, fiction, nonfiction, etc.) from the long 19th century in Britain on the subject of the Revolution.

Again, any suggestions for additions would be appreciated. My central interest is the 1789 Revolution, but works on the subject of the Napoleonic wars or 19th c. revolutions would be relevant as well.

Romantic Fiction / Prose Edmund Burke - Reflections on the Revolution in France Thomas Paine - The Rights of Man Mary Wollstonecraft - A Vindication of the Rights of Women William Godwin - Caleb Williams Ann Radcliffe - The Mysteries of Udolpho Mary Shelley - Frankenstein Helen Maria Williams - Julia (1790), Letters Written in France (1790) Matthew Lewis - The Monk (1796) Ann Radcliffe - The Italian (1797) Fanny Burney - The Wanderer (1814) Jacobin / anti-Jacobin novelists William Godwin Charlotte Turner Smith Elizabeth Inchbald Romantic Drama / Poetry Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey - The Fall of Robespierre (1794) Victorian Fiction (major authors) William Makepeace Thackeray - Vanity Fair Edward Bulwer-Lytton - Zanoni (1842) Anthony Trollope - La Vendée: An Historical Romance (1850) Charles Dickens - A Tale of Two Cities (1859) Thomas Hardy - The Dynasts (1904-1908) Victorian Fiction (minor authors) Catherine Frances Gore - The Reign of Terror (1827), The Tuileries (1831) John Sterling - Arthur Coningsby (1833) Walter Thornbury - Wildfire (1864) Henry Kingsley - Mademoiselle Mathilde (1868) Margaret Roberts - On the Edge of the Storm (1869) Marianne Dale - Crowned with the Immortals (1896) Victorian Prose William Makepeace Thackeray - The History of the Next French Revolution Thomas Carlyle - The French Revolution (1837) George Henry Lewes - Life of Robespierre (1849)

Date: 2011-05-21 01:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] estellacat.livejournal.com
I'm not much for literature - still less British literature - but I did once come across an interesting biography of Robespierre by the Chartist Bronterre O'Brien, which is probably one of the few positive representations in 19th century Britain.

Also, re: Thomas Paine, I've somehow ended up attending quite a few lectures recently by Paine specialists and according to them, The Rights of Man is Paine's most famous work, but not his most interesting or his most original. Which doesn't mean you shouldn't read it; it was obviously quite influential and is worth reading for that alone, but you might consider adding The Age of Reason or Agrarian Justice to your list.

Let's see... there are also the works I came across while compiling my series on portrayals of Éléonore Duplay in literature (in chronological order and excluding the ones you have already): Yet another Thackeray, a short story from a book of Burlesques published in 1847 called "Phil Fogarty" and which, while it's set during the Empire, does have the peculiarity of having "Robespierre's widow" dance with the Austrian ambassador at a party given by Joséphine (which, it goes without saying, is patently ridiculous, but so much of British literature relating to the Revolution is);
Miranda: A Tale of the French Revolution by Charles Augustus Murray (1850);
Chapter XI of British Artists from Hogarth to Turner: A Series of Biographical Sketches by Walter Thornbury (1861);
The Atelier du Lys, or an Art Student in the Reign of Terror by Margaret Roberts (1877);
The Journal of a Spy in Paris During the Reign of Terror: January-July 1794, which, though published as the real journal of Raoul Hesdin (a fictional personage), was really by Charles Robert Leslie Fletcher (1895);
The Friend of the People: A Tale of the Reign of Terror by Mary Catherine Rowsell (1895);
At the Sign of the Guillotine by Harold Spender (1895);
if British literature includes British colonies, you might check out Ange Galdemar's novelization of Sardou's "Robespierre" (Galdemar was from Mauritius and the book is in English - still, it's admittedly a bit iffy).

It sounds like you already have quite a bit though - certainly you have more than a few that I've never heard of.
Edited Date: 2011-05-21 01:29 pm (UTC)

Date: 2011-05-22 01:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] estellacat.livejournal.com
You're quite welcome. I'm also a bit surprised you don't have The Scarlet Pimpernel on your list. I didn't think of it at first, since I was concentrating more narrowly on the 19th century and the first one didn't come out until 1903, but that works out with your long 19th century concept, doesn't it? It's an awful series (one could probably say the same of most of the books I just suggested), but I expect enjoyment in the reading is not your purpose here, strictly speaking.

Date: 2011-05-23 11:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] estellacat.livejournal.com
If you only want to read 19th century British literature concerning the Revolution that has actual literary merit, your list will be very short indeed, I'm afraid. That said, it's hard to get worse than The Scarlet Pimpernel - leaving completely aside how rabidly reactionary it is*, it's terribly written, the plot is laughably implausible, the characters are wooden and it's not even entertaining is a so-bad-it's-good kind of way. I've never understood its appeal.

*No, seriously. I strongly dislike A Tale of Two Cities because of its portrayal of the Revolution and I'm not a big fan of Dickens in general, but I can at least see why people like him. Whereas Orczy... it's just bewildering to me.

Date: 2011-05-24 12:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] estellacat.livejournal.com
Who knows though, maybe you'll disagree with me. (Though I have a hard time imagining it if you appreciate literature as much as someone getting a doctorate in it would have to.)

I would say it's not worth redeeming, but I would be speaking more from a historian's/political point of view that from that of its literary merit, which is decidedly immensely superior to The Scarlet Pimpernel's.

Date: 2011-05-22 08:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] francoisejeanne.livejournal.com
I would add William Blake and William Wordsworth to your poetry list. Also, check "The Cambridge History of English and American Literature" for the periods you're interested in.


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