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Peacock, Thomas Love

contemporary shelley literary romantic

(British, 1785–1866)

Peacock, a friend of Shelley, wrote seven novels. He satirized the contemporary political and cultural scene in Nightmare Abbey (1818), a book all the more enjoyable if the works and ideas of the Romantic poets are familiar to the reader. Lord Byron, Coleridge, and Shelley himself are among the noted literary figures to be lampooned in this short, witty examination of the change in contemporary literary tastes. Headlong Hall (1816) is also a satire on romantic idealism. The story takes place over Christmas at the eponymous country house, and is largely composed of the philosophical conversations about the merits of ‘modern society’ between a pessimist, an optimist, a character happy with the status quo, and the Revd Dr Gaster, who has won over his host with a learned dissertation on the art of stuffing a turkey.

Jonathan Swift, Laurence Sterne  FS

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