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Satire and Romanticism


In January 1817, the Prince Regent's coach window was shattered by an unidentified projectile hurled from an angry crowd. In Satire and Romanticism, Steven E. Jones recalls how the episode was satirized in the pages of The Black Dwarf, a radical weekly in which the projectile was transformed into a treasonable potato and reported to be standing trial alongside seditious gingerbread men and insurrectionary Punch puppets. The inspired silliness of romantic era satire is too easily bracketed off from more familiarly romantic literary works. We allow for Byron's ironic mischievousness, for Blake and Shelley's anarchic impulses, but the high seriousness of the most vaunted romantic lyric poems has commanded far more attention than the rude shoving and snickering of romantic era satire. Jones sets out to demonstrate that romanticism and satire are inextricably connected to each other, to counter the view that satire was supplanted by sensibility, and to claim parody as a close (if bratty) cousin of the lyric poem. Jones's book is such a lucidly written and reasonably argued work of scholarship that one feels the parameters of romanticism shifting slightly as one reads. The Black Dwarf's satire may never achieve pride of place in the romantic literary pantheon, but Satire and Romanticism makes vividly apparent the extent to which satirical literature impinged upon and influenced the work of Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, and Byron.


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Tags: Romantic, other, modes, Romanticism, aesthetic, Satire, period