Presences That Disturb: Models of Romantic Self-Definition in the Culture and Literature of the 1790s

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Presences that Disturb examines the historical and cultural contexts that determined the Romantic self in a revolutionary decade. It explores the ways in which canonical writers such as Wordsworth, Coleridge and Keats, and significant political figures such as John Thelwall, imaginatively identified with certain emblematic presences -- from the Dark Age hermit-king Tewdrig to the Polish patriot-General Kosciusko and the Welsh jacobin bard Edward Williams -- as instructive models and haunting second selves. Addressing recent new historicist critiques, this highly original analysis of Romantic identity discusses both the subtle ways in which these crucial but neglected presences inhabit literary texts and their broader cultural impact.

Damian Walford Davies offers a wholly new perspective on Romanticism by rehistoricizing canonical works in relation to marginalized Welsh figures, narratives and locations. Wales and the ideologically troubling space of the Wye Valley are revealed as sites in which Romanticism came to terms with history. Drawing on a wide range of archival material, Presences that Disturb also enhances our understanding of how a number of cultural voices and discourses, from antiquarianism and Bardism to topographical description, county history and the tour, determined the shape of canonical Romanticism.

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Editorial Reviews

The Year's Work in English Studies
An unusually well-conceived, coherent and valuable collection.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Damian Walford Davies is professor of English and head of the Department of English and Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
A Note on Texts
List of Abbreviations
Introduction 1
1 Models of Solitude and Involvement: Tewdrig and David Williams 8
2 Models of Betrayal and Flight: Vortigern 55
3 Models of Defeat and 'Horrid Sufferance': Kosciusko 95
4 Models of Bardic Jacobinism and Gratitude: Edward Williams 135
5 Models of Fellowship and Fulfilment: Wordsworth, Coleridge, John Thelwall 193
Epilogue 241
Notes 243
App 'Yours, a true Sans Culotte' - Letters of John Thelwall and Henrietta Cecil Thelwall, 1794-1838 285
Bibliography 330
Index 357
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