British Romanticism and the Catholic Question : Religion, History and National Identity 1778-1829, by Michael Tomko

Heimann, Mary (2012) British Romanticism and the Catholic Question : Religion, History and National Identity 1778-1829, by Michael Tomko. [Review]

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Abstract

Michael Tomko uses this book to argue that the ‘Catholic question’ which plagued British politics at the end of the eighteenth century has been largely elided from our understanding of romantic-era culture, a mistake which he hopes to rectify here. Tomko provides a reading of the romantic writers which shows that the Catholic question fundamentally permeated romantic-era literature, challenging writers to engage with ideas of British national and religious identity. This book claims that the perceived dangers of Catholicism to “Britishness” (even by pro-emancipation writers such as Byron and Shelley), led to attempts to articulate a via media between religious enthusiasm and superstition.