Misfortunes of Elphin

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George Canning (1770—1827) prime minister and parodist


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A satirical romance by Peacock, published 1829.

It is an ingenious blend of Welsh Arthurian legend and current political debate about reform. Elphin is king of Ceredigion in western Wales, but the bulk of his territory has been engulfed by the sea, owing to the drunkenness of Seithenyn, who was in charge of the embankment to keep out the waves. In Seithenyn the book contains what is perhaps Peacock's finest political parody, the celebrated drunken speech about the wall (‘the parts that are rotten give elasticity to those that are sound’), which imitates a speech made by Canning in 1822 in defence of the existing Constitution. The book contains the celebrated ‘War Song of Dinas Vawr’, in context a sly comment on political opportunism, and a clever bardic contest in which the current Romantic fashion for escapist themes is gently mocked.

Subjects: Literature.

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Thomas Love Peacock (1785—1866) satirical novelist and poet

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