'Romanticism in the Shadow of War: Literary Culture in the Napoleonic War Years'
journal contributionposted on 25.08.2017, 13:21 by Philip Shaw
[First paragraph] "It is a year or so after the war. It cannot be said that it is war, it cannot be said that it is peace, it can be said that it is post-war; this will probably go on for ten years." This wryly phrased statement from Stevie Smith's post-war novel Holiday (1949) could serve as an epigraph to Jeffrey Cox's fine-grained study of British literary culture in the Napoleonic war years. Between 1793 and 1816, peace with France was formally established on three occasions: once, for a period of just over a year, by the Treaty of Amiens (25 March 1802-18 May 1803); twice, for a period just short of a year, by the Treaty of Fontainebleau following the first abdication of Napoleon (11 April 1814-25 March 1815); and a third and final time by the Treaty of Paris (20 November 1815), ratified a few months after Napoleon's second abdication in the wake of the Battle of Waterloo (18 June 1815). The outcome of all three treaties, observes Cox, was an "in-between time, neither war nor peace," when Britain continued to undermine revolutionary movements both at home and abroad, "a time we might have labeled 'cold war,' or now even a 'war on terror'" (56). Cox aims chiefly to show how dissident writers challenged the accelerated spread of reactionary politics during the Napoleonic era.