Penn State

Nicholas A. Joukovsky - Professor of English, Penn State University Park

Book Title: Headlong Hall

Author: Thomas Love Peacock

Book Description:

Headlong Hal, published in December 1815 but postdated 1816, was the first of the seven stylish and witty satiric tales of Thomas Love Peacock (1785-1866). As in most of his later tales, Peacock gathers a group of representative intellectuals at a country house and allows them to talk about their pet theories, thus inaugurating a distinctive tradition in English fiction--that of the conversation novel. The continuing philosophical dialogue in Headlong Hall—between a perfectibilian, a deteriorationist, and a statu-quo-ite—echoes the ideological conflicts of the Romantic period and anticipates the Victorian debate over the doctrine of progress.

I have chosen Headlong Hall because I edited the work as part of my Oxford D.Phil. thesis, and because much of my subsequent research has centered on Peacock, whose letters I have edited for Oxford University Press and whose life I am currently writing. I particularly wanted to choose a rare book to mark the significant role that Penn State's Special Collections have played in my teaching and research as well as to acknowledge the generous help I have received over the years from those who have built and maintained the University's rare book and manuscript collections, especially Charles Mann and Sandra Stelts.

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