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Ungoverned ImaginingsJames Mill's The History of British India and Orientalism$
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Javed Majeed

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780198117865

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198117865.001.0001

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Robert Southey and the Oriental Renaissance

Robert Southey and the Oriental Renaissance

(p.47) Chapter 2 Robert Southey and the Oriental Renaissance
Ungoverned Imaginings

Javed Majeed

Oxford University Press

Robert Southey's Thalaba the Destroyer (1801) and The Curse of Kehama (1810) reflect a revival of interest in the history, literature, and antiquities of non-European cultures. His notes to both epics show the extent of his reading in Sir William Jones's works. The concern to tap new sources of creativity made available by the oriental renaissance is evident in the preoccupation with the plumbing and probing of depths in Southey's epics. Here, Southey was experimenting with a new form of poetry, whose alien subject matter had to be domesticated, and whose readership was uncertain. His conservative views constituted a defence of the system of beliefs and established institutions from three challenges in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, namely the demands for the repeal of the Test and Corporation Act, the repeal of legislation against Roman Catholics, and parliamentary reform.

Keywords:   Robert Southey, Thalaba the Destroyer, The Curse of Kehama, poetry, history, Sir William Jones, oriental renaissance, reform, legislation

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