Criticism has largely emphasised the private meaning of "Romantic Satanism", treating it as the celebration of subjectivity through allusions to Paradise Lost that appropriate Satan's defiant declaration, "the mind has its own place". The first full-length treatment of its subject, Romantic Satanism explores this literary phenomenon as a socially produced myth exhibiting the response of writers to their milieu. Jacobinism, the imperial ambitions of Napoleon, plebian blasphemy, the threat of civil insurrection during the Regency - these portentous forces and events demanded answerable mythic embodiments to render them intelligible and to shape public opinion. In their work, the major writers of the era transformed the religious myth of the adversary into a new fiction - flexible, radically ambiguous, and open to artistic and ideologically charged adaptation. Through contextualised readings of the major works of Blake, Shelley and Byron, this new study demonstrates that Satanism enabled Romantic writers to interpret their tempestuous age: it provided them with a mythic medium for articulating the hopes and fears their age aroused, for prophesying and inducing change. Bringing current historical methods to bear on a central but overlooked topic, Romantic Satanism extends further the inquiry into Romantic "mythmaking" opened up by the work of Marilyn Butler and others.

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