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"Asiatick Fire & Figure," or, How Joseph Emin Made Mrs. Montagu an Avant-garde Critic in Her Empathy with the East / Michael Franklin

Huntington Library Quarterly, Volume: 81, Issue: 4, Pages: 573 - 601

Swansea University Author: Michael Franklin

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DOI (Published version): 10.1353/hlq.2018.0026

Abstract

ABSTRACT Against a background of fears that Britain was in grave danger of repeating Roman decline into imperial decadence, indolence, and corruption, this essay attempts to explore the appeal of Joseph Emin for a whole swath of the haut ton. His desperate courage and profound patriotism provided an...

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Published in: Huntington Library Quarterly
ISSN: 1544-399X
Published: San Marino, California Project Muse 2019
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URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa44931
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Abstract: ABSTRACT Against a background of fears that Britain was in grave danger of repeating Roman decline into imperial decadence, indolence, and corruption, this essay attempts to explore the appeal of Joseph Emin for a whole swath of the haut ton. His desperate courage and profound patriotism provided an absolute contrast with the “vain, luxurious and selfish Effeminacy” that Dr. John Brown, in his Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the Times (1757), had diagnosed as the disease of England’s aristocracy and landed gentry. To the romanticism of this idealistic “Oriental” was added the imprimatur of the Duke of Northumberland, qualifying the thirty-year-old Emin for admission into Elizabeth Montagu’s menage of “lovers” with whom she longed to take tea. More than this, Emin’s company and traveler’s tales ignited the Orientalist in the Bluestocking, encouraging an appetite for translations from Asiatic literatures and rendering her an early and appreciative reader of the Bhagavad Gītā.
Keywords: Emin as model for British youth and as miles Christi; Montagu’s fascination with the Orient and her groundbreaking criticism; imitations or translations; Sir William Jones; Hammick Papers
College: College of Arts and Humanities
Issue: 4
Start Page: 573
End Page: 601