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An Elegant Madness: High Society in Regency England: A Social Hist [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Venetia Murray
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1. März 2000
The Regency period was one of the most turbulent ages in British history, one that spanned the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, that witnessed unprecedented industrial progress, artistic accomplishment, and violent social unrest and--paradoxically--the most sparkling social scene English high society has ever enjoyed. Under the influence of the obese, loose-moraled Prince of Wales (to whom Jane Austen dedicated Emma), the Regency was the apex of British decadence, an era of lavish parties and relentless bed-hopping that set a standard for elegance and vulgarity. With wit and lively style, Venetia Murray chronicles the scandals, courtships, and daily life of these aristocrats, and evokes the tempestuous times of the early industrial and French revolutions. Sumptuously illustrated with rare contemporary cartoons, prints, diaries, and caricatures, An Elegant Madness is a book readers of social history and historical romance alike will devour.


  • Taschenbuch: 352 Seiten
  • Verlag: Penguin (Non-Classics) (1. März 2000)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0140282963
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140282962
  • Vom Hersteller empfohlenes Alter: Ab 18 Jahren
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 1,6 x 12,6 x 19,4 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 3.1 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (17 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 494.204 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
  • Komplettes Inhaltsverzeichnis ansehen

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Regency England was, according to Venetia Murray, a "glorious paradox": High society placed a premium on civilized living, yet vulgarity, gluttony, and moral vicissitude were considered fashionable--and socially acceptable--vices. In An Elegant Madness, Murray examines this polarity, providing readers with an accurate, entertaining, easy-to-read portrayal that conveys the mood of the period, focusing primarily on the oft-paradoxical social practices and attitudes of the English aristocracy.

Generally understood as a 50-year period beginning, as with the French Revolution, just before the dawn of the 19th century, Regency England (or, more precisely, its uppermost stata) remained, in many ways, oblivious to and safely distanced from the ravages of the Napoleonic Wars consuming the continent. The tone of society, according to Murray, tends to be set by its titular head; thus, the paradox and political detachment of the Regency Period emanated primarily from its leader, the Prince Regent. The carefree Regent, who would reign as King George IV from 1820 to 1830, was known not only as "The First Gentleman of Europe," but also as a dedicated hedonist, drunkard, and lecher. Elegance and vulgarity characterized the rest of the English aristocracy, as well, and Murray's chapters clearly illustrate how Regency high society appropriated for itself the same duality as their leader's. Her chapters, each a freestanding study of its own, examine fashions of the period, the (exorbitant) cost of living, London high society, clubs and taverns, the common practice of taking a mistress, the country home, and the seaside resort. She embellishes her study with cartoons, prints, and caricatures of the period, all of which contribute to our understanding of this unique period of English history. --Bertina Loeffler Sedlack -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.



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The years of the Regency have come to be synonymous with an elegance and style which are unique in the history of English culture: but they tend to be seen through a romantic haze. Lesen Sie die erste Seite
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3.1 von 5 Sternen
3.1 von 5 Sternen
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5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen Check the Sources - this book is alarmingly bad 19. April 2000
Von Filicity
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Wow - this book as elicited quite a few reviews hasn't it? I was really interested in reading it as I love this period, but I read the reviews here carefully and wondered about the seeming huge polarity in popularity of the book.
I didn't really know much about the Regency times and would have quite happily accepted the rave reviews - it is after all a pretty book. I was very interested in the detail in some of the reviews here which cited specific problems with Murray's sources - so I checked out the books. Its pretty easy to get hold of Roger Fulford's book "the Royal Dukes" - which Murray says she used as a source for her book - and lo and behold she has misrepresented events.
I then had a look at the a few Brummell biographies in my library including the one she has in her bibliography - and again - Murray misrepresented and misdated events.
What other events has she misdated or mis-represented in this book? I guess I could continue looking - but I have since thrown the book out in disgust.
I guess I just prefer authors who are accurate.
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2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
If people want a good book on the life and times of the Regency I would strongly suggest something like Amanda Foreman's excellent book 'Georgiana' or Stella Margeton's 'Regency London' or Priestly's "Prince of Pleasure". But don't read this book.
Venetia Murray is clearly cashing in on the popularity of the Regency Market. She doesn't seem to know or understand the period so while the book might sparkle with good prose it is flat on fact. Now shouldn't that be what a non-fiction book should have as its primary concern? Fact? Sure make them nice to read, but they should be factual.
I see someone in a previous review has suggested that people who have written negative reviews must have some kind of agenda - or be amateur historians. Well there is that. I mean how do you know what reviewers backgrounds really are?
Well, unless you know the period well I would suggest that Murray's book is quite convincing. But it is her attention to detail that lets her down - and has caused her to make so many mistakes and to misinterpret events. I would suggest that the easiest way to confirm this for yourselves is a quick look through the index at the back of An Elegant Madness.
There are people that she hasn't fully named - they are just surnames - if she knows who these people are, why hasn't she fully named them. Check an index on a Hibbert book, or Amanda Foreman or any other reputable author and you will see a full name entry - with title and often with dates of birth and death.
Murray hasn't even bothered to match the correct pages in numerous cases - so looking for 'Hazlitt' she claims in the index that he is mentioned on pages 19, 24, 112, 128, and 277. Well a check through the book only shows him appearing on page 19.
Lesen Sie weiter... ›
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Entertaining, if not terribly accurate 18. April 2000
This book caught my eye on a display, and I bought it more out of curiosity than from any great desire to know the intimate details of the upper classes of the late 18th and early 19th century. I'm not terribly knowlegable on the history of the Regency, so I can't really comment on the accuracy of the history, but it is an entertaining read. It also manages to illumintate some of the social history of a critical point in modern history- the transition from a mercantilist agragrian society to a modern market-based one. It's not unlike reading Paul Johnson; the author may not have a terribly good grasp of the details, but there's an interesting narritive nonetheless.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Get this book - I couldn't put it down! 31. März 2000
Von Ein Kunde
My daughter sent me this book from America for my birthday - and how right she was! I'm no highbrow intellectual but I love the kind of history that tells you the reality behind the facts; the daily life and problems of another world. This is it: beautifully written, funny,dramatic, and so much better than most books of social history which fall between two stools - either too academic or too low brow for anyone of ordinary intelligence.
I don't usually bother to write about books but 'An Elegant Madness' kept me awake all night! Oh, how I wish I had been born in the Regency..So long as I was rich, of course, and preferably pretty! I'd have had a ball...Bucks and Beaux, duels and dances, glamour and gossip, revolutionaries and reform...And such gorgeous clothes! Ah well, we live in a kinder world, at least. If you like pure glittering escapism this is the nright read for you. And Thanks, Gemma, for sending it.
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1.0 von 5 Sternen Trivia should be correct 31. März 2000
Von Ein Kunde
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I was so disappointed with this book. It might be gossipy but has all the accuracy of gossip.
You know there have been so many more high-profile fakes sold to the breathless press and public as authentic - just think of the Hitler diaries which were reprinted. It is much easier to pull a swifty on the public and reviewers when the subject is more obscure.
The information Murray used is easily available in the public sphere. Christopher Hibbert has done a great job editing Gronow's works, it is easily available too, Lesley Blanch did a wonderful job on both Julia Jones and Harriette Wilson's memoirs. There are endless copies of the Creevey papers too.
All these books are marvellously gossipy, have great detail- they also have editors that understand their subjects and are able to shed light on their lives which Murray is incapable of doing.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Fun with great sketches!
Even if the other reviews are true and Venetia Murray is inaccurate, this book is worth the sketches! Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 3. Mai 2000 von Jesse Petersen
5.0 von 5 Sternen What a great time to have lived and loved!
I just don't understand why the customer comments on this book have been so mixed: some people seem to hate, others to love it. Why does it arouse such strong reactions? Lesen Sie weiter...
Am 4. April 2000 veröffentlicht
5.0 von 5 Sternen Gossip, Glamour and Fascinating Facts: A Great Read !
This book got rave reviews from the quality papers in England - and I quite see why. It is amusing, well-written, well-researched and full of fascinating details. Lesen Sie weiter...
Am 29. März 2000 veröffentlicht
1.0 von 5 Sternen How can a supposedly Non-fiction book sacrifice the truth?
"~Venetia Murray shows again and again that she neither understands nor has properly researched the Regency period. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 14. März 2000 von Anne Lopdell
1.0 von 5 Sternen Shoddy Fluff
If it were possible to give this book half a star I would. The book is fluff. It would be an enjoyable time waster if it were not supposed to be fact. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 11. März 2000 von RegencyMiss
5.0 von 5 Sternen Witty, Elegant and Highly Entertaining
I found this book a light and delicious souffle: academic history it is not: but a great read for the upper middle-brow interested in daily life, love, money and and all the things... Lesen Sie weiter...
Am 8. März 2000 veröffentlicht
5.0 von 5 Sternen Lifestyles Of The Pompous And The Pampered
What an enjoyable piece of fluff! I have read some of the negative reviews by other Amazonians, so I suppose it depends on what you are looking for in this book. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 6. März 2000 von Bruce Loveitt
1.0 von 5 Sternen A poorly researched book
I hate to be cruel, but I think 'An Elegant Madness' is a truly shoddy book. It seems to have been written with no other purpose than to cash in on the popularity of the Regency... Lesen Sie weiter...
Am 27. Januar 2000 veröffentlicht
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