The possibilists
Romantic-era literary forgery and British alternative pasts
in Counterfactual Romanticism
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Theorising the relation between forgery and Romantic counterfactualism, this chapter analyses the credit afforded to forged pasts and texts during the Romantic period. The chapter argues that in the hands of James Macpherson, Thomas Chatterton and Edward Williams (‘Iolo Morganwg’), forgery’s ‘counterfactual world’ becomes a modality of Romantic counterfactualism’s investment in ‘possibilism’. Forgery in the service of national and local identity and of national literary history is insightfully located in spaces of loss – material, cultural, political – and in the context of recuperative ‘possibilities’.

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