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date: 19 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This essay explores the rich cultural legacy of the English Revolution in new forms of historical fiction, Romantic drama, and historical genre painting in nineteenth-century Britain and France. In the aftermath of the French Revolution, and in Victorian England, literary and visual artists obliquely comment on issues of their own day by reworking historical figures and events from mid-seventeenth-century England. Focusing on Sir Walter Scott’s historical novel Woodstock (1824), Victor Hugo’s unacted drama Cromwell (1827), and French painter Paul Delaroche’s vivid and macabre depiction of Cromwell gazing into the coffin of the dead Charles I (1831), the essay shows how new cultural forms draw the reader or viewer into moments of acute moral crisis. As such, the unprecedented events and issues of the English Revolution continue to shape new aesthetic forms and to elicit the kinds of political interpretation and judgement that marked the mid-seventeenth-century emergent public sphere.

Keywords: Walter Scott, Paul Delaroche, Victor Hugo, historical fiction, Romantic drama, genre painting, public sphere, English Revolution, French Revolution

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