Introduction: 1688 and the Romantic Reform of Literature

  • Anthony S. Jarrells
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the Enlightenment, Romanticism, and Cultures of Print book series (PERCP)


Britain’s Bloodless Revolutions makes two claims about the relationship between the Revolution of 1688 and the literature of the Romantic period. First, the “bloodless” Revolution of 1688 served as a major context for understanding, supporting, challenging, and representing the French Revolution in print. Whether in news reports, the yearly summaries provided by the Annual Register, or works by Edmund Burke, William Wordsworth, Helen Maria Williams, Walter Scott, and many others, 1688 remained a touchstone of almost every discussion about the events taking place across the channel and about the significance of those events at home, in Britain. In the process the Revolution and Settlement of 1688–89 was itself rewritten for a post-1789 world. The events of 1688–89 had been reread and rewritten throughout the eighteenth century.1 The outbreak of revolution in France provided an opportunity for yet another update of that earlier revolution.


Eighteenth Century French Revolution Romantic Period Late Eighteenth Century Ancient Regime 
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  1. 28.
    See for example, Lynn Hunt, Politics, Culture, and Class in the French Revolution and ed. Hunt, The New Cultural History; Francois Furet, Interpreting the French Revolution, trans. Elborg Forster; Catherine Gallagher, Nobody’s Story: The Vanishing Acts of Women Writer’s in the Marketplace, 1670–1820; Stephen Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashinioning: From More to Shakespeare (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980). For some theoretical underpinnings see Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences.Google Scholar

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© Anthony S. Jarrells 2005

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  • Anthony S. Jarrells

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