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  • Cited by 4
  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: May 2006

15 - Keats, Shelley, Byron, and the Hunt circle

from Part II - Writers, circles, traditions


One of the longstanding stereotypes of British Romanticism features the Romantic poet as a solitary genius, an outcast bard like Blake's Rintrah in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, either communing with Nature in sublime isolation or delving into the inner reaches of the imagination for visionary prophecies of a new millennial order. Exemplified in the vatic utterances of Wordsworth's 'Prospectus' to The Recluse (a fragment first published in his 1814 preface to The Excursion), this model of the Romantic poet gained widespread prevalence through M. H. Abrams's landmark study Natural Supernaturalism. However, more recent scholarship on Romanticism, much of which attends more closely to the social contexts of literary experience, places new emphasis on the group interactions and collaborative dynamics that generated a significant amount of the era's major poetry. Jack Stillinger, for instance, qualifies the Romantic ‘myth of solitary genius’ in his important analyses of the ‘multiple consciousnesses’ in Wordsworth’s Prelude and the various ‘helpers’ involved in the production of Keats’s Isabella (1818).

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