During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the revolution in France served as a catalyst for heavily allegorical political rhetoric, and the idea that radical politics were contagious became commonplace in conservative writing and oratory. This political contagion is described by Blackwood’s as raging through the ranks of the rural poor as late as 1830. Confronted by this threat, Blackwood’s promoted itself alternatively as a stimulant or as a cure for the metaphorical poison or infection that radical publications were seen to be spreading amongst the poor. Blackwood’s also strove to maintain the political health of its readership by identifying healthy literature for its readers and the lower order. This article analyzes Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine’s application of the vocabulary of disease and contagion to radical politics and publications, and considers questions of taste, class, and Britishness in discussions of healthy reading habits.


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pp. 418-439
Launched on MUSE
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