By Jeremy Burchardt
During this extraordinary e-book Jeremy Burchardt lines the impression that attitudes towards the geographical region have had at the evolution of recent British lifestyles. within the "town as opposed to kingdom" debate, Burchardt seems to be on the idealization of the nation-state via artists and writers, the improvement of anti-urban and anti-industrial values, rural-urban commuting, environmentalist feedback of commercial farming, and the impression on govt coverage, social constitution, and monetary dynamism.
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Extra resources for Paradise Lost: Rural Idyll and Social Change since 1800 (International Library of Historical Studies)
In this way the countryside had become a means of assessing and potentially improving the quality of urban and industrial life, but one of the consequences of this particular critical strategy was that, intentionally or otherwise, the countryside was progressively idealized. While Cobbett had been fully alive to, and indeed angry about, the poverty and oppression so widespread in rural southern England, rural poverty is essentially invisible in the works of Dickens, 34 · Paradise Lost Gaskell, and even George Eliot.
The rapid pace of urban expansion, the ugliness, dirtiness and unhealthiness of the growing towns and the scale of the challenge posed by the latent radicalism of the industrial working class seem quite sufficient to account for a widespread literary reaction in favour of the countryside as the precursor of, and most readily available contrast to, industrial and urban England. However, although as we shall see there were important connections between social conditions and literary attitudes in the first half of the nineteenth century, writers never react in a direct and unmediated way to social change because they are virtually always working in a 26 · Paradise Lost literary tradition as well as being participants in and observers of society more broadly.
The association between land and radicalism in England can be traced back at least as far as the civil war, when several political groups, notably the Diggers, argued for or even attempted to put into practice greater popular use-rights over land. Although attempts have been made to demonstrate links between mid-seventeenth-century political and religious groups and nineteenth-century radicalism, it was only in the wake of the French Revolution that a powerful challenge to the existing English political elite was mounted from within the excluded social strata.