The primary drama of the poem is centered in the consciousness of the speaker rather than in externalized actions, as in the classical genres, and it continues an already developed tradition of epics of the 1790s that reject a masculinist militarism as integral to a definition of national identity, such as Landor's Gebir
and Barlow's Columbiad (Kelly 40-43; Curran 168-70), but it shares with the romance a limited scope of events, an overtly Christian ideology, and an idealized, Christianized concept of self-realization.
Many of their works--such as Sophia Lee's Almeyda, Queen of Granada (1796), a tragedy set in Moorish Spain, Coleridge's fellow pantisocrat Southey's Letters Written during a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal (1797), which was a result of his visit to those countries immediately following the failure of their jointly planned Pantisocracy, and Landor's oriental Gebir
(1798), which was an attack on the Spanish prince Gebir
's invasion and colonization of Egypt--came about the same time as Kubla Khan was being written.
They also saw the publication of Robert Southey's anti-war epic Joan of Arc (1796), two attempts to extend Milton's Paradise Regained in the form of Richard Cumberland's Calvary (179Z) and James Ogden's Emmanuel (1797), George Skene's short epic Donald Bane (1796), and three oriental epics: Lady Sophia Burrell's Thymbriad (1794), Walter Savage Landor's Gebir (1798), and Robert Southey's Thalaba (1801).
Landor's Gebir was somewhat more oblique, but between his denunciation of war-mongering kings and his offhand mention that Corsica will one day produce "a mortal man above all mortal praise," his Bonapartist politics are not hard to discern.
From his eminence of years Walter Savage Landor, who had published the very different epic experiment Gebir
(1798) at about Bailey's age when the first version of Festus came out in 1839, addressed some rhymed advice to his young successor in brash innovation.
Gabriel Woolf's fascinating and well-researched programme on the English eccentric Walter Savage Landor resurrected a poet whose fame rests mainly today on his obscure poem Gebir
-an Arabian Nights fantasy much admired by Shelley.
ONE OF THE MOST SUBVERSIVE MOMENTS IN WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR'S Gebir occurs in book six when Tamar, a poor shepherd and Gebir's brother, falls madly in love with an Egyptian nymph who takes him on a magical flight over Europe.
Published in 1672, the English translation of Murtada ibn al-Khafif's The Egyptian History contains a section on the romance of Gebir and Charoba that Landor knew via Clara Reeve's work.
By borrowing from this Islamic-hermetic tradition, Landor's Gebir shares a close affinity to the anticlerical historiographies written by radical Protestants and hermetic philosophers in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Given Landor's affiliation with early radical Protestantism, this essay argues that the political significance of esoteric and oriental motifs in Gebir needs to be reconsidered in relation to the genre of the oriental tale.
In comparing Landor's unorthodox views to Thomas Paine's deistic interpretation of the bible, the second half argues that Landor's appeal to Islamic-hermetic humanism in the 1803 edition of Gebir is, in effect, an attempt to forge a revolutionary, anti-colonial politics.
Originally appended to Poetry by the Author of Gebir (1800) and later removed for its potentially treasonable contents, Landor's supposed translation of the "Extract from the French Preface" voices outspoken support for Napoleon's Egyptian campaign during 1798-99.