The Spirit of Despotism: Invasions of Privacy in the 1790s

Hardcover | January 31, 2006

byJohn Barrell

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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, politicalpamphlets, 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 hissummer 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 politicalissue.

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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 re...

John Barrell is the author of numerous books on the literature, art, and history of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. He has taught at the universities of Essex, Cambridge, and Sussex, and for the last twelve years has been at the University of York, where he is a Professor of English in the Centre for Eighteenth Century ...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.87 inPublished:January 31, 2006Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199281203

ISBN - 13:9780199281206

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. Charing Cross and the City2. Coffee-House Politicians3. Weymouth Amusements4. Hair Powder5. Cottage PoliticsBibliography

Editorial Reviews

"Gripping."--Margaret Russett, Studies in English Literature