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The Politics of ParodyA Literary History of Caricature, 1760-1830$
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David Francis Taylor

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780300223750

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300223750.001.0001

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Harlequin Napoleon; or, What Literature Isn’t

Harlequin Napoleon; or, What Literature Isn’t

(p.210) 7. Harlequin Napoleon; or, What Literature Isn’t
The Politics of Parody

David Francis Taylor

Yale University Press

This concluding chapter begins by addressing the image of Napoleon as Harlequin. In appropriating the iconography of pantomime, conscripting it in the service of wartime propaganda, Harlequin-Napoleon prints and broadsides are involved in a complex form of cultural negotiation. They map onto military conflict the vocabulary of a longstanding culture war whereby the highly charged and always renewed binaries of high–low, literature–entertainment, and elite–popular become a means of comprehending the military and political confrontation between Britain and Napoleonic France. Moreover, images of Harlequin Napoleon implicitly mobilize and affirm particular conceptions of “literature” and “the literary” even as they strenuously avoid visibly naming or referencing them. The chapter then considers pantomime, a form of popular theater at the core of long-standing and pervasive anxieties about the dissolution of British culture.

Keywords:   Napoleon, Harlequin, pantomime, wartime propaganda, Harlequin-Napoleon prints, culture war, Napoleonic France, literature, British culture, Harlequin Napoleon

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