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Unusual SuspectsPitt's Reign of Alarm and the Lost Generation of the 1790s$
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Kenneth R. Johnston

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199657803

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199657803.001.0001

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Coda

Coda

‘What does it signify?’

Chapter:
(p.323) Coda
Source:
Unusual Suspects
Author(s):

Kenneth R. Johnston

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199657803.003.0019

The effects of Pitt’s government’s domestic policy of alarmism, directed at proponents of parliamentary reform, on the development of English Romantic literature, may be viewed as inconsequential collateral damage, or as highly significant distortions of otherwise promising literary works and careers. The effects of Alarmism are as far-reaching and difficult to document as those of McCarthyism in 1950s America. William Pitt himself participated directly in these culture wars through his creation and protection of The Anti-Jacobin of 1797–8. Alan Liu found Unusual Suspects to be an important ‘census of the disappeared’ when reviewing an earlier version of it in Romanticism, History, Historicism (2009). The impact of Alarm on literary works and careers is undeniable, but hard to quantify conclusively. Some works and careers are being recuperated, two centuries later, but Pitt’s defeat of the parliamentary reform movement in the 1790s also spelled defeat for many promising literary careers.

Keywords:   Alarmism, English literature, McCarthyism, William Pitt, Romantic literature

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