Imagining the King's Death: Figurative Treason, Fantasies of Regicide, 1793-1796
New York: Oxford University Press, USA, 2000.
First Edition. Hardcover. 6-1/4 x 9-1/2", black paper over boards, xvii, 737pp, epilogue, appendix, bibiography, index, illus. with 19 plates. Item #900718
It is high treason in British law to imagine the king's death. But after the execution of Louis XVI in 1793, everyone in Britain must have found themselves imagining that the same fate might befall George III. How easy was it to distinguish between fantasising about the death of George and imagining it, in the legal sense of intending or designing? John Barrell examines this question in the context of the political trials of the mid-1790s and the controversies they generated. He shows how the law of treason was adapted in the years following Louis's death to punish what was acknowledged to be a modern form of treason unheard of when the law had been framed. The result, he argues, was the invention of a new and imaginary reading, a figurative treason, by which the question of who was imagining the king's death, the supposed traitors or those who charged them with treason, became inseparable.
Very fine in dust wrapper with a bit of wear to extreme corners at flap folds, in protective mylar.