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Romanticism, Reaction and Revolution

British Views on Spain, 1814–1823


Edited By Bernard Beatty and Alicia Laspra Rodríguez

When the Peninsular War ended in 1814, the prolonged struggle had all but exhausted both British government finances and the British public’s enthusiasm for war. The authoritarian rule of Ferdinand VII aroused long-standing British suspicions of Spanish ways, which emerged in British literary works that depicted a retrograde, fanatical Spain. The tumultuous years following Ferdinand’s reign also led to divisions among the European powers, some favouring the restoration of Ferdinand, with the British government and liberal forces vehemently opposed.

This diverse volume focuses on British reactions to, and representations of, Spanish affairs during this lively period (1814–1823). It demonstrates both Spain’s visibility in Regency Britain and the consequent inspiration and dialectical activity of British politicians, artists and intellectuals. It does so through a combination of literary, social, historical and cultural perspectives that bring both fresh light to this formative period of nineteenth-century British attitudes to Spain and a wealth of new scholarly material.

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4. The guerrilla chief and the mountain girl: Spanish figures in Letitia Landon’s Romance and Reality (Young-ok An)


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4   The guerrilla chief and the mountain girl: Spanish figures in Letitia Landon’s Romance and Reality

ABSTRACT Letitia Landon’s novel Romance and Reality, published in 1831, offers a critical insight into Spain and Anglo-Spanish relations during the 1810s and 1820s, in part through the characters of Don Henriquez and Beatrice, a father-daughter pair. As Landon’s characters navigate the unfolding geopolitical situations, Spain’s internal social strife and the Cortes’s alliance with the Carbonari movement, she sustains throughout the novel a tension between romance and reality and complicates standard Spanish figures of the Romantic era. Exploring and ultimately displacing male military and political heroism with its heroine’s transnational romance, the novel opens possibilities for a future of the Anglo-Hispanic relationship by uniting half-Spanish, half-English Beatrice with Edward, who inherits an English aristocratic title. In displacing the conventional, passive English heroine, Emily Arundel, with foreign Beatrice, Landon reverses the endings the British reading public were familiar with, such as those in Walter Scott’s romances and Madame de Staël’s Corinne.

Metafictional moments in Romance and Reality

Highly popular in the 1820s under her pen name L. E. L., especially after The Improvisatrice’s immense success in 1824, Letitia Landon (1802–38) was primarily known as a ‘poetess’, whose fame rivalled that of Felicia Hemans (1793–1835), the latter being ‘the most widely read woman poet in the nineteenth-century English-speaking world’.1 In 1831, after establishing ← 71 | 72 → her poetic career, Landon...

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