From 1822 until 1835 Blackwood's "Edinburgh Magazine" carried the series of seventy-one largely imaginary conversations, set in William Ambrose's Edinburgh taverns, and hence called the Noctes Ambrosianae (Ambrosian Nights, or Nights at Ambrose's). The characters, including versions of Byron, James Hogg, and Thomas de Quincey, discuss a wide range of subjects with endless verve: they are uninhibited, frequently scurrilous, often imaginative and extremely funny. This new selection includes four complete noctes, one complete scene, and twenty-four brief extracts. The main authors are John Gibson Lockhart, William Maginn, and John Wilson. Among the host of topics covered are the contemporaneous literary, artistic and political scenes, the 1822 visit of George IV to Edinburgh, swimming in the Firth of Forth, and gargantuan feastings and potations. The Noctes are one of the major achievements of the Romantic period, fit companions to Byron's Don Juan. Often densely allusive, they need generous annotation for the modern reader. This selection is the first to provide comprehensive explanatory notes.
Those who open this volume can be assured of a unique experience: much instruction, some indignation, and a great deal of excellent entertainment!