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Metropolitan Art and Literature, 1810–1840
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Book description

Gregory Dart expands upon existing notions of Cockneys and the 'Cockney School' in the late Romantic period by exploring some of the broader ramifications of the phenomenon in art and periodical literature. He argues that the term was not confined to discussion of the Leigh Hunt circle, but was fast becoming a way of gesturing towards everything in modern metropolitan life that seemed discrepant and disturbing. Covering the ground between Romanticism and Victorianism, Dart presents Cockneyism as a powerful critical currency in this period, which helps provide a link between the works of Leigh Hunt and Keats in the 1810s and the early works of Charles Dickens in the 1830s. Through an examination of literary history, art history, urban history and social history, this book identifies the early nineteenth-century figure of the Cockney as the true ancestor of modernity.

Reviews

'The venturesomeness of the book is in keeping with its subject, and the study often finds original ways to get topography and text to shed light on one another.'

Source: London Review of Books

'Challenges us to reconsider our prejudices about the prejudicial slur, 'Cockney' and to accord it the gravity of a significant genre.'

Source: The Times Literary Supplement

'… a fresh, wonderfully interesting, lucidly written book. Dart’s style is a model of accessibility and is unceasingly engaging. He is a fine writer and [this book] is a testament to his wide-ranging abilities as a researcher and critic. This book reaches further into the Victorian period than the title suggests and is superb reading for anyone interested in Romantic and Victorian period cultures …an affectionate, interesting and generative study of Cockneyism, and how it engages with, among other things, architecture, art, city planning, fashion, literature, politics and suburban gardens. Dart’s achievement is that he extends debates on Cockneyism out of the tight timeframe of 1812–20, that previous academic studies have largely held them in and, in doing so, expands the cultural spheres that Cockneys engaged with.'

Source: Journal of Victorian Culture

'Romanticists are familiar with the Cockney School attacks on the Leigh Hunt circle mounted by J. G. Lockhart in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine beginning in 1817. Gregory Dart offers a fine-grained analysis of deployments of the term 'Cockney' after the attacks, and in so doing manages to cover a remarkable swathe of London's cultural landscape.'

Thora Brylowe Source: BARS Bulletin and Review

'This is a bracingly adventurous book. Out of disparate materials, writers, and artists, Gregory Dart has constructed a previously unrecognized cultural period, the 'Cockney Moment' … the high accomplishment of this book is to make its eight-chapter study of the Cockney 'moment' continually clarifying and illuminating, historically innovative. The book not only bristles with fresh insights into the reach of the Cockney phenomenon across class and aesthetic as well as political lines, but also extends its complexity by effectively rethinking two decades of Romantic cultural production as central to a wider period of cultural transformation.'

Jon Klancher Source: Review 19 (nbol-19.org)

'This well-illustrated, interesting, and very thorough book looks at the Cockney as emergent in London urban culture at the beginning of the nineteenth century. … Dart’s book is an essential source for the culture of those very years.'

Jeremy Tambling Source: Notes and Queries

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