Abstract

Abstract:

A side effect of the tendency of eighteenth-century cultural studies to revert to the novel when looking for examples and exemplars is that cultural figures that fit poorly within the framework of domestic fictions can fall out of focus. The dragon is a thoroughly worthwhile case study of this phenomenon: while there is a large gap in the appearances of dragons in new fictions between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, the dragon itself was hardly forgotten by Britain, and it remained present in song, stage, and signage—particularly via the multicultural legend of St. George. The Dragon of Wantley, a 1737 musical travesty whose popularity eclipsed even The Beggar's Opera (1728), encapsulates much of what we can learn about English dragon culture: fondness, reverence, and fun combine in about equal parts in a work whose influence left an outsized claw-print stretching well into the nineteenth century. "Low" or folk registers should not deter us from studying works that had real social power.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1911-0243
Print ISSN
0840-6286
Pages
pp. 485-504
Launched on MUSE
2020-04-03
Open Access
No
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