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British Romanticism and Napoleon

Episode 3 of 3

Critic and scholar Simon Bainbridge explores how, from the French Revolution to his end on St Helena, Napoleon shaped poetry in Britain, particularly the Romantics.

British Romanticism and Napoleon: Simon Bainbridge explores the love and the hate and how, from the French Revolution to his end on St Helena, Napoleon shaped poetry in Britain. To early British Romantic writers, like Wordsworth and Coleridge, Napoleon's rise after the French Revolution was a cause for celebration. But soon "the bringer of liberty - the layer out of the world garden", as Coleridge called him, seemed more of a tyrant than those he had replaced. Other younger writers and poets in Britain thought and wrote differently. Some used their belief in and feelings for Napoleon to shake off the influence and over-weening presence of their literary fathers. William Hazlitt remained a Napoleon devotee to distance himself from the Lake poets. Byron was his own man and launched a second (sometime one-man) craze for Napoleon. He even commissioned a replica of Napoleon's carriage to travel to Waterloo on a pilgrimage after the defeat of his hero. Simon Bainbridge, scholar of Romanticism, travels to Paris and to Waterloo. He traces the footsteps of the literary pilgrims and the decriers and explores their love-hate relationship with Napoleon and his legacy in British literature. Producer: Tim Dee.

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45 minutes

Last on

Sun 16 Dec 2012 19:45

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