Legend has it that Ragnar composed his “Death Song” as he lay in the pit of snakes waiting to die, the sentence upon him having been passed by the Anglo-Saxon Northumbrian King Aelle. Stephen Basdeo examines the publication of this ancient song.
Humans have always expressed a ‘fear of the end’ in literary and artistic terms. The first apocalypse stories in Western culture came to us from the Bible, with Noah’s Flood giving us the archetypal ‘last man’ or ‘small group of survivors’ motif that has persisted in many retellings of the end times.
What would a Chartist republic look like in practice? Very few Chartist novelists discussed this question in depth, as most of them merely shined a light on social issues of the day. G W M Reynolds, however, used the fictional Italian state of Castelcicala in The Mysteries of London as a ‘laboratory’ in which his progressive theories of government might be tested.
There have been many brief and detached accounts of the Bastille current in the English sphere of literature; but this is the first connected and important history that has hitherto satisfied the curiosity of the public regarding an event that must be considered with no ordinary degree of attention. The throne of him whom the French deemed a despot was only to be essentially shaken by the destruction of the worst engine of its tyranny; and when the adamantine bars of the gates of that terrible castle were destroyed—when the secrets of the prison-house were displayed—when the dark dungeon of slavery was illuminated by the torch of popular vengeance—then emanated from that dismal abode young Liberty.