Eglin, John 1962–
Eglin, John 1962–
(John A. Eglin)
ADDRESSES: Agent—Palgrave Macmillan, 175 5th Ave., New York, NY 10010.
CAREER: Writer, educator, historian, and scholar. University of Montana, Missoula, assistant professor, 1996–.
MEMBER: American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, North American Council on British Studies.
Venice Transfigured: The Myth of Venice in British Culture, 1660–1797, Palgrave (New York, NY), 2001.
The Imaginary Autocrat: Beau Nash and the Invention of Bath, Profile (London, England), 2005.
Contributor to books, including Italian Culture in Northern Europe in the Eighteenth Century, edited by Shearer West, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 1999.
SIDELIGHTS: John Eglin is a writer, educator, and historian whose research centers on the cultural history and development of early modern Europe, particularly Britain. In Venice Transfigured: The Myth of Venice in British Culture, 1660–1797, Eglin "explores the continuing reputation and representation of Venice in British culture from the second half of the seventeenth century through the end of the eighteenth century," noted Kenneth L. Campbell in Albion. At the time, many felt that Venice's opposition to the papacy and balance of aristocratic, republican, and monarchical government made it an example of how government should be structured. This perfect structure, however, was more myth than reality. Eglin looks carefully at how this myth influenced the development of English politics of the time. He also examines the development of political parties during the time period and how the Tories and Whigs developed opposing viewpoints of Venice as a useful model for English government—the Whigs finding it to be a sterling example, the Tories believing that it was not. "This impressive and interesting work offers a major contribution to the study of British political thought and cultural politics," commented Jeremy Black in the English Historical Review.
Eglin's second book, The Imaginary Autocrat: Beau Nash and the Invention of Bath, describes how the English city of Bath underwent a startling transformation at the beginning of the eighteenth century. Once famous for its Roman baths and spectacular architecture, Bath's fortunes had dwindled to the point where it was shunned by the politically important people who once flocked to it for medical treatment. The famous baths fell into disrepair, but within fifteen years the city was transformed into a stylish center of commerce, medicine, and politics.
The primary architect of this transformation was Richard "Beau" Nash, a man of humble origins who became the city's Master of Ceremonies and who presided over the city's most minute functions. Though there is little doubt that Nash was crucial to Bath's revival, Eglin finds that Nash may have had much less influence than generally believed. He "sets out to explore the ways in which the personal mythology of Beau Nash … insinuated itself into narratives about Bath's supremacy to the point where one came to stand for the other," remarked a reviewer in the Economist. Eglin's work is a "fascinating demonstration of the subtlety that a new generation of historians is bringing to the period" of eighteenth-century Britain, noted the same reviewer.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Albion, summer, 2002, Kenneth L. Campbell, review of Venus Transfigured: The Myth of Venice in British Culture, 1660–1797, p. 316.
Economist, June 18, 2005, "Pillar of the City; Eighteenth-Century Britain," review of The Imaginary Autocrat: Beau Nash and the Invention of Bath, p. 82.
English Historical Review, June, 2002, Jeremy Black, review of Venus Transfigured, p. 723.
History Today, May, 2005, "The Eighteenth Century," review of The Imaginary Autocrat, p. 71.
Journal of Modern History, September, 2003, Larry Wolff, review of Venus Transfigured, p. 673.
Wordsworth Circle, fall, 2002, Nicola Trott, review of Venus Transfigured, p. 162.
University of Montana Department of History Web site, http://www2.umt.edu/history/ (November 16, 2005), biography of John A. Eglin.