Part of the Romanticism in Perspective: Texts, Cultures, Histories book series (ROPTCH)


Although many books have studied writers and drink in modern American literature, not even an article has noted the rich culture of drinking and the many poems and narratives about it in the Romantic period in England. Bacchus in Romantic England: Writers and Drink 1780–1830 is the first study to describe the bulk and variety of writings about drink; to set these poems, novels, essays, letters and journals in a historical, sociological and medical context; to demonstrate the importance of drunkenness in the works of a number of major and minor writers of the period; and to suggest that during these years, for a short time, the pleasures and pains of drinking are held in a vivacious balance. The book argues that the figure of the drinker tests the margins of the human being, either as a beast, savage or thing, or, on the other edge of the human range, as a free, inspired spirit.


Romantic Period Woman Writer Rich Culture Distil Spirit Romantic Woman 
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  1. 1.
    Thomas B. Gilmore, ‘James Boswell’s Drinking’, Eighteenth-Century Studies 24,3 (Spring 1991), 337–57. Boswell’s drinking, which follows the criteria of modern definitions of alcoholism, can be contrasted with Samuel Johnson’s, for Johnson stopped at will.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Felicity A. Nussbaum, The Autobiographical Subject: Gender and Ideology in Eighteenth-Century England (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989), pp. 103–17, wonderfully describes the Humean flux of Boswell’s sense of identity, sometimes dramatized in two voices of the retenu and the étourdi, a dividedness found often in the alcoholic. The late-eighteenth-century arguments about personal identity are discussed in connection with Lamb in Chapter 3.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    To extend into the present the phrase from Anne K. Mellor, ‘Why Women Didn’t Like Romanticism: The Views of Jane Austen and Mary Shelley’, in The Romantics and Us: Essays on Literature and Culture, ed. Gene W. Ruoff ( New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1990 ), pp. 277–87.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Anya Taylor 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.John Jay College of Criminal JusticeThe City University of New YorkUSA

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