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 cahracters, 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!
Typeset by Roger Booth Associates, Newcastle. Printed by Bell & Bain, Glasgow
Last updated 10 August 2010.