Book Description
The Spirit Of The Public Journals. Vols 1 - 18. 1797-1814. 18 volumes, London, James Ridgway. 1802-1815. A scarce run of this important source for Romantic studies. Original half calf, marbled boards, gilt banded spines, gilt labels (one label missing). A fascinating but relatively untapped source for Romantic Studies - the long-running Spirit of the Public Journals, founded and edited in 1797 by Stephen Jones and printed for him by Sherwood, Jones & Co in London. Later taken over by C. M. Westmacott (who employed George Cruikshank as illustrator), the success of the Spirit of the Public Journals is reflected in its longevity. Described by Jones as ‘an impartial selection of the most exquisite essays and jeux d’espirits’ of the age, this collection offers scholars the opportunity to dip into a wide range of contemporary periodicals - helping to identify the preoccupations of the period and to gauge tastes. The Spirit of the Public Journals includes periodicals aimed at both male and female readers and published in a variety of places, including titles such as the Gentleman’s Magazine and the Lady’s Monthly Museum; the St. James’ Chronicle, the Hampshire Telegraph; the Sussex Chronicle and the Calcutta Chronicle. Major Romantic authors such as James Macpherson, Wordsworth, Sir Walter Scott and Lord Byron are all well represented. In addition, the collection opens up a huge body of writing including plays and poetry by lesser-known and anonymous writers, helping scholars to place the well-known verse of leading writers in a broader context. This includes many significant contributions by women writers, which will expand our knowledge of their output. The collection also offers invaluable insight into contemporary opinion towards such Romantic writers. A robust tradition of literary criticism is revealed through satire and parody: the principles of Gothic Novels are expertly satirised in such belles-lettres as ‘Modern Novels. Inscribed to the author of The Monk’, which complains that ‘a novel now…is nothing more than an old castle – and a creaking door…. Old armour – and a phantom all in white…’ The relationship between the emergence of Romanticism and contemporary political events is well charted by the collection. In his introduction to the first volume, editor Stephen Jones chronicles the pronounced shift in sensibility that brought about the rise of Romanticism: he describes his era as “a period when the collision of political parties, and the momentous incidents of the war, and of the French Revolution, began to elicit stronger flashes of wit, and satire, from the mind of genius, than had been produced for a long time before.” He asserts the importance of the essays and writings included in the Spirit of the Public Journals in the dawning of this new and different cultural movement. Themes such as the romance of the landscape, sensibility, Gothicism, Orientalism, natural history writing and war poetry can be explored against this wide political backdrop. Importantly, the Spirit of the Public Journals also includes extracts from such journals as the Anti-Jacobin; or, Weekly Examiner, founded by Tory politician George Canning to combat the pro-Revolutionary ideas of such Romantic thinkers as Hazlitt and Southey. This allows scholars to compare side-by-side the development of Romanticism and the simultaneous reactionary movement. This resource will be of great benefit to scholars of Romantic Studies, offering a rare opportunity to examine a wide range of contemporary perspectives on the movement. These articles allow us to feel the pulse of the Romantic era and understand its concerns.
Author Wordsworth &c.
Date 1797-1814

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