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Mapping Mythologies


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Table of Contents

Preface Heather Glen; 1. Mapping mythologies; 2. Thomson and Akenside; 3. Collins and Gray; 4. The forgers: Macpherson and Chatterton; 5. Popular antiquities; 6. Blake; Coda.

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The last major work by Marilyn Butler, leading literary critic of the late twentieth century, on imaginative ideas of nationhood.

About the Author

Marilyn Butler (1937-2014) was a prominent scholar in eighteenth-century and Romantic studies, a groundbreaking practitioner and theorist of the historicist criticism of literary texts, and pioneering scholarly editor of hitherto marginalized women writers. Her widely acclaimed publications include Maria Edgeworth: A Literary Biography (1972), Jane Austen and the War of Ideas (1975), Peacock Displayed: A Satirist in his Context (1979), Romantics, Rebels and Reactionaries: English Literature and its Background, 1760-1830 (1981), and seminal scholarly editions of works by Mary Wollstonecraft, Maria Edgeworth, Mary Shelley and Jane Austen. She was King Edward VII Professor of English Literature at the University of Cambridge from 1986 to 1993, and Rector of Exeter College, Oxford, from 1993 to 2004. Mapping Mythologies, finished in 1984, but never hitherto published, is the first volume of a never-completed larger project on literary mythologies between 1730 and 1830. Heather Glen was Professor of English Literature at the University of Cambridge until 2012, and is an Emeritus Fellow of Murray Edwards College.


'This study of the 'mythologies' informing eighteenth-century British poetry is a book that Marilyn Butler was working on at the height of her powers, when she had already published major works on Maria Edgeworth, Thomas Love Peacock, Jane Austen, and Romantic writing more broadly. Had Butler managed to publish it a quarter of a century ago, surely it would be still be vigorously engaged by students of this field, just as those other books still are. Now, thanks to the skill and assiduity of Heather Glen's editorial endeavours, those same readers will be able to engage for the first time. What a rare experience they have in prospect.' James Chandler, University of Chicago
'The book is a pleasure to read and captures Marilyn Butler's erudite, scholarly voice, always rich in charm and humour. One of the beauties of this study is that in it Butler writes at a level of generalization that articulates the tradition she has uncovered, yet always keeping the readers' senses alive to the boldness and idiosyncrasies of the writers she discusses. Mapping Mythologies will be cause for renewed interest in Butler's work as a whole and its importance to the study of the literary past.' Anne Janowitz, Emerita Professor, Queen Mary University of London
'Mapping Mythologies is an unexpected gift from Marilyn Butler to her many admirers. Once again, we hear the fertility and originality of her ideas in a new literary history of popular antiquarianism in which she wittily and elegantly maps the provincial, socially marginal but highly influential British mythmakers of the later eighteenth century.' Deirdre Coleman, Robert Wallace Chair of English, University of Melbourne
'Mapping Mythologies contains a vast array of critical insights, all of which are effortlessly delivered in the characteristically erudite, charming and articulate voice of Marilyn Butler.' Daniel Cook, Review of English Studies
'Rich in knowledge, historical empathy and new angles of interpretation ... essential reading.' Pamela Clemit, The Times Literary Supplement

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