The Infernal Quixote (1801) is an enjoyable comic romp in which Charles Lucas engages directly with the most pressing political issues of his day and establishes himself as one of the most forthright of all the anti-Jacobin writers. Dealing with many aspects of the debates that raged around the writings of Burke, Paine, Wollstonecraft, Godwin, and others, the novel paints a vivid picture of the political and social anxieties prevalent in Britain during the 1790s. Lucas’s work is particularly remarkable for depicting meetings of the London Corresponding Society and the secret “Illuminati” society, and for being the first novel to be set amidst the Irish Rebellion of 1798.
This Broadview edition is accompanied by a critical introduction and a rich selection of primary source materials, including a prospectus for the notorious Minerva Press, a contemporary review, publications of The United Irishmen, and excerpts from Augustin Barruel’s “Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism” and from the writings of William Godwin.
“Charles Lucas’s novel offers us a heady mix of social satire, religious polemic, gothic tropes, and trenchant critique of the dangers of revolution and the ‘new philosophy.’ As M.O. Grenby points out in the thoughtful introduction, The Infernal Quixote not only anticipates the Irish national tale and the historical fiction of Walter Scott, but also—in giving us an unconventional hero drawn from the lower ranks of society—highlights the complexity of the debates about class, gender, and nation that emerged in the turbulent post-Revolutionary period. The availability of The Infernal Quixote in this judiciously edited edition will inevitably expand our understanding of the intellectual climate of Britain and Ireland in the 1790s and early 1800s.” — Jacqueline Belanger, Cardiff University