“An outstanding work of reference” – THES
For the first time in this innovative reference book the Romantic Age is surveyed across all aspects of British culture, rather than in literary or artistic terms alone. The Companion's two-part structure presents forty-two essays on major topics, by leading international experts, cross-referenced to an extensive alphabetical section covering all the principal figures, events, and movements in the broad culture of the period. Aimed at students and general readers as well as scholars, the essays constitute an accessible, pluralistic, and modern social history of the epoch; the alphabetical entries can either be used alongside them, for deeper information on specific subjects, or as a free-standing reference tool. The volume as a whole embraces both high and low culture, and explores its subject across the whole breadth of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland.
The book's multi-disciplinary approach treats Romanticism both in aesthetic terms-its meaning for painting, music, design, architecture, and above all literature-and as a historical epoch of 'revolutionary' transformations which ushered in modern democratic and industrialized society. In this period Wedgwood turned taste into a commercial enterprise, Pierce Egan took Britain by storm with his sensational accounts of low-life in the capital, and Mary Shelley created, in Frankenstein, one of the enduring myths of scientific advance. The Companion revitalizes canonical Romantic figures in the context of the historical events, political and linguistic debates, commercial pressures, and plebeian subcultures of their day, as well as bringing back into historical focus individuals and events whose impact has often been muffled or forgotten.