Poetic Castles in Spain

British Romanticism and Figurations of Iberia

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Author: Diego Saglia
British culture of the Romantic period is distinguished by a protracted and varied interest in things Spanish. The climax in the publication of fictional, and especially poetical, narratives on Spain corresponds with the intense phase of Anglo-Iberian exchanges delimited by the Peninsular War (1808-14), on the one hand, and the Spanish experiment of a constitutional monarchy that lasted from 1820 until 1823, on the other. Although current scholarship has uncovered and reconstructed several foreign maps of British Romanticism - from the Orient to the South Seas - exotic European geographies have not received much attention. Spain, in particular, is one of the most neglected of these 'imaginary' Romantic geographies, even if between the 1800s and the 1820s, and beyond, it was a site of wars and invasions, the object of foreign economic interests relating to its American colonies, and a geopolitical area crucial to the European balance designed by the post-Waterloo Vienna settlement. This study considers the various ways in which Spain figured in Romantic narrative verse, recovering the discursive materials employed in fictional representation, and assessing the relevance of this activity in the context of the dominant themes and preoccupations in contemporary British culture. The texts examined here include medievalizing and chivalric fictions, Orientalist adventures set in Islamic Granada, and modern-day tales of the anti-Napoleonic campaign in the Peninsula. Recovering some of the outstanding works and issues elaborated by British Romanticism through the cultural geography of Spain, this study shows that the Iberian country was an inexhaustible source of imaginative materials for British culture at a time when its imperial boundaries were expanding and its geopolitical influence was increasing in Europe and overseas.

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"… Saglia provides ample materials and occasions for debate about some of the most contested terms in cultural studies, namely ‘nation’ and ‘gender.’" - in: European Romantic Review, Vol. 13 (2002)
"…helpful, … and always generous in its scholarship." - in: Bulletin of Spanish Studies, Vol. LXXX, No. 1 (2003)
Preface.
INTRODUCTION. 'Not Less Improbable than the Wildest Fictions of Romance': Narratives of Spain from the Peninsular War to the 1820s.
War, Revolution and the Debate on Spain
Holland House and the Cultural Politics of Iberia
Mapping Difference: Romantic Descriptions of Spain
Fictions of Spain before 1808
Chivalry, Romance and Spanish Cultural History
Reading the Spanish Imaginary
CHAPTER ONE Tales of War and National Narratives: The Peninsular War and Myths of the Nation.
Multiplying the Romantic Nation
Spain as Composite National Text in Felicia Hemans's The Domestic Affections
Gothic Epos: British Romanticism and the Roderick Theme.
Southey's Roderick: Re-Constructing the Spanish Nation.
Dismantling the Nation-Family: Landor's Count Julian
The Nation as Progress Text in Scott's The Vision of Don Roderick
Hemans's England and Spain and the Ambiguous Politics of the Progress Poem
Patriotic Knights and Matadors in Byron's Childe Harold I.
CHAPTER TWO Patriots, Heroines and Dons: Models of Subjectivity in the Spanish Text.
Place and the Romantic Subject
The Revolutionary Leader and Nationalist Dilemmas in Landor's Count Julian
The Spanish Patriot as National Character
Re-Figuring Spanish Freedom Fighters in the Post-Napoleonic Period
Gothic Persecution in the Peninsular War: Mary Leman Grimstone's Zayda
Amazons, Patriotic Heroines and the Maid of Saragossa
The Spanish Princess as Domestic Heroine: Constance de Castile and Blanch of Aledo
Romance and the Other Identity: Heroic Britons and Spanish Ladies
Spain in ottava rima: Byron's Don Juan and Barry Cornwall's Diego de Montilla