Luddism in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism: Overviews - Essay

Frank Ongley Darvall (essay date 1934)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Darvall, Frank Ongley. “The State of Public Opinion.” In Popular Disturbances and Public Order in Regency England: Being An Account of the Luddite and Other Disorders in England During the Years 1811-1817 and of the Attitude and Activity of the Authorities, pp. 319-44. London: Oxford University Press, 1934.

[In the following excerpt, Darvall considers why so little attention was given to the Luddite Rebellion and other similar worker uprisings, noting that while those of the middle and lower classes sympathized with the rebels, few upper-class people—Lord Byron being a notable exception—criticized the government's response to the revolt.]


(The entire section is 5907 words.)

Malcolm I. Thomis (essay date 1970)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Thomis, Malcolm I. “Machine-Breakers and Luddites.” In The Luddites: Machine-Breaking in Regency England, pp. 11-40. Newton Abbot, Eng.: David & Charles, 1970.

[In the following excerpt, Thomis discusses the social and political context of the Luddite Rebellion and attempts to define exactly who the Luddites were and what they sought to achieve. He also examines inconsistencies in depictions of Luddism in writings from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.]

The Luddites present initially a problem of definition. It is useless to write or argue about them unless their identity is clear.

Employers were being threatened by letters...

(The entire section is 9709 words.)

Kirkpatrick Sale (essay date 1995)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Sale, Kirkpatrick. “With Hatchet, Pike, and Gun.” In Rebels Against the Future: The Luddites and Their War on the Industrial Revolution: Lessons for the Computer Age, pp. 7-24. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1995.

[In the following essay, Sale provides background on the Luddite revolt and other events in the workers' movement against machines. He then discusses nineteenth-century responses by British intellectuals and artists to the new industrialization and shows the relevance of Luddism to twenty-first-century life.]

It was about a half hour after midnight on an April Sunday in 1812 that the band of some six score Yorkshiremen finally...

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Brian Bailey (essay date 1998)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Bailey, Brian. “Local Responses and Government Reactions.” In The Luddite Rebellion, pp. 33-52. Gloucestershire, Eng.: Sutton Publishing, 1998.

[In the following excerpt, Bailey describes the industrial unrest that took place in several regions in the early nineteenth century and examines the responses to the troubles by manufacturers, the government, newspapers, writers, and the workers themselves.]

Colonel Ralph Fletcher, a magistrate of Bolton, Lancashire, was among the first to voice his conviction that the Nottinghamshire machine-breakers had set a dangerous example to northern manufacturing districts where machinery was held at least partly...

(The entire section is 7305 words.)

Nicols Fox (essay date 2002)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Fox, Nicols. “The Frame Breakers.” In Against the Machine: The Hidden Luddite Tradition in Literature, Art, and Individual Lives, pp. 24-40. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2002.

[In the following essay, Fox discusses the historical context of the Luddite revolt.]

The word Luddite is newly trendy. It finds its way into articles and essays at the elite edge of media consumption and is flung as a stylish insult at holdouts against this or that innovation or technology. It is usually meant as a lighthearted taunt of those who refuse or are unable to keep up with what is commonly referred to as progress. Applied to oneself, it is often a form of...

(The entire section is 7088 words.)