Counterfactual speculations in late Romanticism
Scott, Banim, Galt and Mitford
in Counterfactual Romanticism
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This chapter identifies 1824 as a ‘crux in the history of factual and counterfactual writing’ – a moment when Walter Scott, John Banim, John Galt and Mary Russell Mitford choose a counterfactual turn at a time of ‘rampant speculation’ in the wider economic sphere. Revealing the varieties of ‘soft’ counterfactual speculation deployed by these authors – ranging from the uncanny interactions of history and fiction and Romantic-period time-travel ‘speculative fantasy’ to the ironic counterfactual effects of a literary miscellany and the interplay of documentary and idealising modes of writing place – the chapter shows how its chosen texts yield teasing metaperspectives on contemporary literary production, reading practices, the literary market and literary history.

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