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Representations of the Gypsy in the Romantic Period$
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Sarah Houghton-Walker

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198719472

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198719472.001.0001

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William Cowper’s Gypsies

William Cowper’s Gypsies

(p.72) 3 William Cowper’s Gypsies
Representations of the Gypsy in the Romantic Period

Sarah Houghton-Walker

Oxford University Press

Chapter 3 begins the author-centred section of the book by examining William Cowper’s description of a group of gypsies in The Task (1783). It argues that Cowper’s lines reflect a burst of critical interest in gypsies which followed the repeal of the Egyptians Act in the same year, which can be encountered in journals Cowper read, and which is itself a major factor in the way in which gypsies begin to be represented in the Romantic period. It concludes that in Cowper’s vocabulary, and in the anxieties about wandering, idleness, usefulness, and sublimity his lines suggest, we can see the germ of many of the features in which this book as a whole is interested.

Keywords:   William Cowper, The Task, Egyptians Act, wandering, idleness, usefulness, sublimity

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