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An Old Romantic? Thomas Love Peacock, Comedy and Nostalgia

An Old Romantic? Thomas Love Peacock, Comedy and Nostalgia

Sheridan, Claire (2017) An Old Romantic? Thomas Love Peacock, Comedy and Nostalgia. The Charles Lamb Bulletin (165). ISSN 0308-0951

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Thomas Love Peacock faces a curious rhetorical dilemma in his ‘Memoirs of Percy Bysshe Shelley,’ published in Fraser’s Magazine between 1858 and 1862. Peacock’s love of comedy, and his commitment to dialogue and optimism, disallows him from writing in an overtly nostalgic way about his time with Shelley, which results in a comic portrayal that has been read as cold. But this is a mistake: Peacock’s ‘Memoirs’ should be read as an effort to resist being what he calls ‘laudator temporis acti’ (a praiser of times past), an effort not to let developments in the late nineteenth century defeat his love of comedy. Ultimately, however, he is defeated, by the prudish reaction of the Shelley estate to his affectionate portrayal of Harriet Shelley. This defeat is marked by the genuine nostalgia of the final installment of Peacock’s ‘Memoirs of Shelley,’ and his essay ‘The Last Day of Windsor Forest’ (c.1862).

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Progress, Nostalgia, Memoir, Romanticism, Biography, Sociability, Afterlives, 19th Century
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > School of Humanities & Social Sciences (HSS)
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Last Modified: 23 Apr 2020 14:55

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