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date: 23 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the relationship between the historical events and the literature of 1800–15. It suggests that these years remain relatively understudied and identifies the important literary landmarks as they appeared to both contemporary and modern observers. It characterizes the period’s writing as ‘war literature’, examining Walter Scott’s status as ‘the “mighty minstrel” of the Antigallican war’ and exploring the rise of Lord Byron and Felicia Hemans within the context of the Peninsular War. The chapter investigates the relationship between literature and national identity following the Acts of Union, looking at the recovery of national literatures, the revival of the epic, and the emergence of the novel as the form best suited to negotiating issues of national identity. It concludes by examining how writers responded to the Industrial Revolution and the development of Great Britain’s global power, one aspect of this being the emergence of literary ‘Orientalism’.

Keywords: Acts of Union, war literature, Waterloo, Industrial Revolution, empire, Four Nations, national identity, epic, romance, novel

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