'If I could play upon the guitar', wrote John Keats in a letter, 'I might make my fortune…' This lecture will explore the beginnings of the guitar craze in Regency England around the time of Keats' birth in 1795, as a form of salon amateurism; it will reveal the deep involvement of the instrument with some of the most potent themes of romanticism, especially in contemporary poetry of the high tradition (notably by Shelley) and the newspaper variety, together with serialised fiction. These themes include the night, the supernatural, and the complex allure of Spain and its guitars, celebrated by Byron in Childe Harold.
The transcript and downloadable versions of the lecture are available from the Gresham College Website: http://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/the-romantic-guitar
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