Things that Didn't Happen: Writing, Politics and the Counterhistorical, 1678-1743 [Hardback]

John McTague(Author)

ISBN: 9781783274093 | Published by: Boydell Press | Series: Studies in the Eighteenth Century | Volume: Volume 4 | Year of Publication: 2019 | 295p, H9.25 x W6.25, 6 black and white
Status: In Stock - Available

Things that Didn't Happen


James Francis Edward Stuart, the Prince of Wales born in 1688, was not a commoner's child smuggled into the queen's birthing chamber in a warming pan, but many people said he was. In 1708, the same prince did not quite land in Scotland with a force of 5,000 men in order to claim the Scottish crown, but writers busied themselves with exploring what would have happened if he had succeeded. These fictions had as potent an effect on the political culture of late Stuart and early Hanoverian Britain as many events that really did happen.
From the alleged "Popish Plot" of Titus Oates to the South Sea Bubble, John McTague draws on a rich variety of sources - popular, archival and literary - to investigate the propagandic and literary exploitation of three kinds of things that did not occur at this time: failures which inspired "what if" narratives, speculative futures which failed to come to pass and "pure" fictions created and disseminated for political gain. Finally, a ground-breaking reading of the various versions of Pope's Dunciad reveals a work that in its exploration of historic causation and agency and its repurposing of the material of contemporary political and literary culture deploys many of the strategies explored in earlier chapters to present Hanoverian reality as if it were counterhistory.

JOHN MCTAGUE is Lecturer in English Literature at Bristol University.

Table of Contents

Incorrigibility: The Warming Pan Scandal of 1688-89
'Working in th'immediate power to be': The Popish and Protestant Plots
Travesties: The Assassination and Insurrection Plots of 1683
Contingency and Incontinence: The Jacobite Invasion of 1708
The Indifference of Number: The South Sea Bubble, 1720-21
'Some Convenient Order': Mandeville, Berkeley, and the Narration of Ethical Exchange
Living in Counterhistory: The
Dunciads as Mock-Prophecy
The Indifference of the Dunces: Agency in the
Gravitation, Providence, and Theories of History in the
Conclusion: Events that Didn't Happen

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