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Title: The anti-Jacobin novel : British Conservatism and the literary response to the French Revolution
Author: Grenby, M. O.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1997
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Numerous novels appeared in Britain in the years after 1789 addressing the debate on the French Revolution and the ideas emanating from it. Some novels sympathising with the radical cause have received significant scholarly attention, but those which took a conservative line have so far escaped any sustained analysis. These were the anti-Jacobin novels. This thesis contains an analysis of over a hundred novels, published 1790-1816, all of which to some extent contributed to the conservative cause. Some were deliberately designed by their authors as propaganda; others simply absorbed aspects of this conservatism. Either way, these novels provide a valuable insight into the nature of British conservatism during and after the French Revolution. My introduction having provided a survey of the research so far undertaken into the politics and fiction of the period, chapter two examines the reputation of the novel as a literary form in the late eighteenth century and the way in which conservative novelists used the novel to open up another front in the campaign against what they saw as the encroaching Revolutionary menace, thus imbuing the novel with a new respectability. Chapters three to seven analyse common themes and techniques of these novels. First I consider the anti-Jacobin novelists' depictions of revolution as a locus of unmitigated barbarity and anarchy. Second I survey the development and meaning of the umbrella term 'new philosophy' to describe the radical ideas to which the anti-Jacobins were possessed. Third I look at the frequent use of the 'vaurien' motif, that is to say a single character designed to embody Jacobinism and expose it as nothing more than the tool of self-serving villains. Fourth I investigate the novels' defence of social hierarchy, especially against levellers, the socially and economically ambitious, and (in chapter seven) against the corruption of the élite , who were also presented as providing a foothold for Jacobinism in Britain by the neglect of those duties which endowed the hierarchy with their raison d'être.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available