Monday, April 05, 2010

Ravers of Disunion

In previous posts on the origins of rave, ravers and raving, we have established that the use of these terms in relation to parties goes back as far as the 1940s and were used fairly widely in British jazz and later counter-cultural scenes from then up until at least the end of the '60s. The use of the words rave/raving as in over-enthusiastic ('raving mad', 'rant and rave') go back at least as far as the 14th century.

But when was the word raver, as in one who raves, first used as a noun? So far the first example I have found is from a 1704 translation of Plutarch's Morals which criticises 'Triflers and Ravers' in the context of 'Lies, fawning Speeches and deceitful Manners'.

A similar meaning was clearly implied in an 1845 article in the Institutes of the Christian Religion which states 'Let all the hired ravers of the Pope babble as they may'. Similarly an article entitled Public Opinion published in the United States Democratice Review, (Issue 3, March 1856) denounces 'your loudest ravers of disunion' alongside 'your Ism-ites, your Free-soilers, your Arch-Agtitators' in the context of the lead up to the American Civil War.

Still haven't found any use of these terms in relation to parties and dancing before the 1940s though - but will keep searching at the quite addictive Google News Archive and Google Books.


rozele said...

i wonder whether you could find some early uses from the opponents of the antiauthoritarian religious radicals of the 17th century?

here's my thinking:

"rant and rave" is a pretty old formulation, and during the english revolution "ranters" was the popular formulation for the cultural revolutionaries among the religious radicals of the time. in particular, "ranters" were associated with sexual freedom (anti-marriage, pro-free-union), use of new and 'dangerous' drugs (tobacco in particular, but also coffee and chocolate), and an inappropriately festive approach to life...

so i'd give a close look at the pamphlet literature from the revolutionary period and early commonwealth, both from royalists and from the authoritarian side of the revolutionary movements (cromwell's supporters, 'puritans', &c).

Transpontine said...

Good idea - would be sweet to find such a connection.

John said...

Found an earlier use of Raver, in Aphra Behn's 'Love Letters Between a Nobleman and his Sister' (1684):

Oh tell me in the agony of my soul, why must those charms that bring tranquility and peace to all, make me a wild, unseemly raver?

Am also looking for ranter and raver links.

Transpontine said...

Excellent. As well as being the earliest use of raver as a noun so far, it is also, unlike the other examples, in the first person and implies somebody emotionally upset rather than just a fervent political speech maker.