In Religion, Toleration, and British Writing, 1790-1830, Mark Canuel examines the way that Romantic poets, novelists and political writers criticized the traditional grounding of British political unity in religious conformity. Canuel shows how a wide range of writers including Jeremy Bentham, Ann Radcliffe, Maria Edgeworth and Lord Byron not only undermined the validity of religion in the British state, but also imagined a new, tolerant and more organized mode of social inclusion. To argue against the authority of religion, Canuel claims, was to argue for a thoroughly revised form of tolerant yet highly organized government, in other words, a mode of political authority that provided unprecedented levels of inclusion and protection. Canuel argues that these writers saw their works as political and literary commentaries on the extent and limits of religious toleration. His study throws new light on political history as well as the literature of the Romantic period.

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