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Items tagged with 'Romanticism'

Review: Julia S. Carlson, Romantic Marks and Measures: Wordsworth’s Poetry in Fields of Print (rev.)

In the 1805 version of The Prelude, William Wordsworth emphatically addresses Samuel Taylor Coleridge as ‘Friend!’ several times (Carlson, p. 226). As Julia S. Carlson notes in Romantic Marks and Measures: Wordsworth’s Poetry in Fields of … Continue reading

Review: Siobhan Carroll, An Empire of Air and Water: Uncolonizable Space in the British Imagination, 1750–1850 (rev.)

It is not often that a piece of scholarship is able to achieve both delightful complexity and remarkable clarity, but Siobhan Carroll’s An Empire of Air and Water: Uncolonizable Space in the British Imagination, 1750–1850 … Continue reading

Review: Mark J. Bruhn, Wordsworth before Coleridge: The Growth of the Poet’s Philosophical Mind, 1785–1797 (rev.)

A number of profound intellectual contexts—Burkean politics, Lockean empiricism, Wartonian historicism and Hartleyan psychology, among them—have long proven indispensable to the study of Wordsworth’s poetry. Many of these contexts seem to be incompatible with the … Continue reading

Report: The English Novel, 1800–1829 & 1830–1836: Update 7 (August 2009–July 2020)

This report, like its predecessors, relates primarily to the second volume of The English Novel, 1770–1829: A Bibliographical Survey of Prose Fiction Published in the British Isles (Oxford: OUP, 2000) [EN2], co-edited by Peter Garside and Rainer Schöwerling, with the assistance of Christopher Skelton-Foord and Karin Wünsche. It also refers to the online The English Novel, 1830–36: A Bibliographical Survey of Fiction Published in the British Isles [EN3], which effectively serves as a continuation of the printed Bibliography. Continue reading

Article: Political Animals

This article argues that that during the political upheaval of the 1790s, the discourse of rights was mobilised to discuss the social, legal and political status of animals and humans. Notions of animal rights were just beginning to take shape towards the end of the eighteenth century. Changing beliefs about animal sentience, rationality and feelings, and social and moral concerns about animal cruelty, slowly brought the issue of animal welfare before the public. Historians have been inclined to view animal rights as the logical conclusion of the extension of the ‘rights of man’ down the social scale. This article contends that in print culture, animals were used as cyphers for their human owners. By giving voices to animals and characterising them as politically active and informed, a variety of literary productions demonstrated the methods of social, legal and political resistance available to their readers. Continue reading

Article: The Poetical Works of Geoffrey Chaucer in the Nineteenth Century

This article is a textual analysis that compares features of the 1807 edition of The Book of the Duchess with its predecessors. The Book of the Duchess features, has been chosen for this analysis because, in a practical sense, it is limited enough to be manageable, but more importantly, it is a significant poem in Chaucer’s oeuvre and its authority has never been questioned. Thus, it has appeared in every printed edition of the works of Chaucer, providing this study with extensive points for comparison. The editor of the 1807 edition claims that his work is newly edited—a claim that many editors of Chaucer’s works made, without much effort to see through. In reality, the editor appears to have taken Thomas Tywhitt’s second edition of the Canterbury Tales, and used this as the basis for editing the non-Canterbury Tales texts. It is something of an homage to Tyrwhitt’s editing. Continue reading

Article: Sad Realities

Charles Harpur (1813–68) is recognised in his native Australia as a pioneering Romantic poet, but his achievements are little recognised elsewhere. This essay considers his contribution to the development of Romantic tragedy. He wrote two tragedies, The Bushrangers (1853, orig. 1835), a gothic bandit drama in the tradition of Schiller’s Die Räuber (1781), and King Saul (c. 1838), an incomplete Biblical drama apparently inspired by Byron’s Cain: A Mystery (1821). Like many European playwrights of the period, Harpur was deeply influenced by the new kinds of melodrama that were sweeping the stage, but also sought to distinguish his literary productions from more popular fare. His alienation from the popular theatre was exacerbated by his colonial context, where strict censorship, rising snobbery and plentiful cultural imports from Britain stifled the early efforts of nationalist, convict-born writers like himself. These contexts help to explain three distinctive aspects of Harpur’s Romantic tragedies: they were direct in an age when drama was often evasive, radical even in an age of revolution, and mystical in an age of increasing religious scepticism. Whatever his theatrical merits, Harpur was a bold playwright who worked through controversial political and aesthetic problems in a remarkably explicit way. Continue reading

Article: The ‘Dying-Tale’ as Epistemic Strategy in Hemans’s Records of Woman

The personal writings of popular nineteenth-century poet Felicia Hemans indicate her desire to alleviate social constraints on women to improve their education, yet her poetry’s female figures often seem overly attached to domesticity or lacking in emotional fortitude. This paper addresses ways in which a study of early modern female writers of history can inform Hemans scholarship, particularly by drawing on Megan Matchinske’s work on the ‘dying-tale’ in Elizabeth Cary’s The Tragedy of Mariam (1613). Similarly, Hemans promotes the necessity of women acting to ensure successful political and personal endurance in ‘The Switzer’s Tale’. Furthermore, in the pedagogy of Records of Woman (1828), Hemans responds to the problem of visual dominance in art by adopting a multi-sensory approach to communication that relies especially on the auditory. This strategy takes part in a broader epistemic approach to history that criticises the reliability of memory and the transience of human bodies. Ultimately, Hemans suggests that transcendence occurs through the exercise of the human will, the ultimate representation of which is martyrdom. Continue reading

Article: Isabella Kelly and the Minerva Gothic Challenge

This essay uses Isabella Kelly (c. 1759–1857) to demonstrate the critical and historical value of Minerva novelists for gothic scholarship. Minerva’s fictions have traditionally been dismissed by gothic critics as uninteresting ‘imitations’ of Radcliffe and Lewis. I propose that we need to question this too-simple label: rather than disqualifying them from serious study, Minerva novels’ formulaic gothic elements are an entry point for fertile analysis, exposing a lively dialogue between many novels that is itself an under-examined part of the gothic’s history. I also address the dilemma of scope: should gothic scholars read Minerva novels individually and closely, or as a large mass viewed from afar? Drawing on the insights of recent scholarship, I propose that there are unique benefits to a combined perspective, which recognises the potential richness of individual Minerva gothics while noting the distinctive features that arise from their publication as part of a larger mass. Isabella Kelly’s seven Minerva novels allow me to test both of these methodological assertions. A ‘semi-distant’ overview of Kelly’s career reveals her rapidly changing, diverse and creative use of gothic materials over time, exposing an aspect of gothic authorship not visible in traditional accounts. I then zoom in on a single Kelly novel, The Ruins of Avondale Priory (1796), to show the surprisingly complex, idiosyncratic uses to which she puts familiar tropes. Examined closely, Kelly’s novel proves less an ‘imitation’of canonical gothics than one in a chain of adaptations to which those more famous works also belong. Kelly’s case also shows how Minerva novels challenge critical categories formed on the basis of the canon alone, such as the supposed division of gothic fiction into distinct ‘male’ and ‘female’ strands. Continue reading

Article: Imitation, Intertextuality and the Minerva Novel

Jane Austen’s famous reference to Ann Radcliffe and ‘all her imitators’ in Northanger Abbey can be understood both as a satirical characterisation of popular gothic novels and as a record of a historical mode of describing those same texts. This article provides a new reading of fictional ‘imitation’ in the Romantic period arguing that, as it was practised by Minerva Press novelists, it became a crucial fulcrum in the ongoing Romantic debate over the literary status of the novel. While charges of ‘imitation’ are often understood as derogatory, and were frequently deployed against the Minerva Press’s fiction by critics, looking closely at the novels in question suggests that many novelists used imitation quite deliberately as a literary strategy. This essay suggests that the fiction produced by Minerva’s novelists is deeply entwined with the press’s status as England’s highest-producing novel publisher, in that the form and function of Minerva novels stems from their collective identity: each novel is produced and consumed specifically as one of many—one of many narratives, but also one of many physical, circulating objects, lent, sold and exchanged between readers. Using allusions, parodic inversions, self-referential prefaces and a multitude of other narrative strategies, the novelists exploit the creative potential of their imitative parameters. Continue reading

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