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British State RomanticismAuthorship, Agency, and Bureaucratic Nationalism$
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Anne Frey

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780804762281

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804762281.001.0001

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De Quincey's Imperial Systems

De Quincey's Imperial Systems

(p.140) Five De Quincey's Imperial Systems
British State Romanticism
Stanford University Press

This chapter argues that Thomas De Quincey imagines the British mail system during the Napoleonic Wars as an organ spreading British identity from a single, central point across the countryside. As De Quincey rides on the British mail coaches, he claims to be a part of the medium that conveys the news of victory to the masses. He combines an ethnic model that locates nationality in a people's blood with a nonorganic model in which nationality is imposed from the outside by an imperial administration. In such a model, Romantic inspiration derives solely from organization: terms such as “sympathy” and “vision” no longer refer to personal attributes but rather to the author's imbrication within vast communication networks overseen by the British state. In this way, De Quincey exemplifies the late Romantic recontextualization of Romantic aesthetics as part of the British state as he redefines the state as the privileged agent of national identity.

Keywords:   Thomas De Quincey, British mail system, British identity, nationality, Romantic aesthetics, British state, national identity

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