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Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 September 2009

Ian Duncan
Affiliation:
Professor of English University of California, Berkeley
Leith Davis
Affiliation:
Associate Professor of English Simon Fraser University
Janet Sorensen
Affiliation:
Associate Professor of English Indiana University at Bloomington
Leith Davis
Affiliation:
Simon Fraser University, British Columbia
Ian Duncan
Affiliation:
University of California, Berkeley
Janet Sorensen
Affiliation:
University of California, Berkeley
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Summary

SCOTLAND IN ROMANTICISM

“What a hobbling pace the Scottish Pegasus seems to have adopted in these days,” grumbled William Wordsworth in a letter to R. P. Gillies (February 14, 1815). Wordsworth condemns the “insupportable slovenliness and neglect of syntax and grammar, by which James Hogg's writings are disfigured”; such solecisms may be “excusable in [Hogg] from his education, but Walter Scott knows, and ought to do, better.” Both poets can be summarily dismissed: “They neither of them write a language which has any pretension to be called English.” Wordsworth's complaint cuts across distinct if overlapping conceptions of the institutional framework of British Romantic literature: as a market, in which Scottish writing enjoys a notable success, and as a canon, from which it must be purged – on the grounds of a national deficiency, a linguistic unfitness “to be called English.”

Wordsworth's verdict has proven remarkably durable. Modern literary criticism in Great Britain and North America adopted the view of Romanticism as a unitary phenomenon, the agon of a mighty handful of lyric poets with a Kantian (later Heideggerian) problematic of the transcendental imagination. Some Romanticisms are more Romantic than others: some are the real thing, while others are premature or belated, or simply false – anachronistic or fraudulent simulacra. British Romanticism is English, from Blake and Lyrical Ballads in the 1790s to Keats, Shelley, and Byron (cut off from his own Scottish roots), prematurely dead in the early 1820s.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2004

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  • Introduction
    • By Ian Duncan, Professor of English University of California, Berkeley, Leith Davis, Associate Professor of English Simon Fraser University, Janet Sorensen, Associate Professor of English Indiana University at Bloomington
  • Edited by Leith Davis, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Ian Duncan, University of California, Berkeley, Janet Sorensen, University of California, Berkeley
  • Book: Scotland and the Borders of Romanticism
  • Online publication: 22 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511484186.001
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  • Introduction
    • By Ian Duncan, Professor of English University of California, Berkeley, Leith Davis, Associate Professor of English Simon Fraser University, Janet Sorensen, Associate Professor of English Indiana University at Bloomington
  • Edited by Leith Davis, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Ian Duncan, University of California, Berkeley, Janet Sorensen, University of California, Berkeley
  • Book: Scotland and the Borders of Romanticism
  • Online publication: 22 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511484186.001
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
    • By Ian Duncan, Professor of English University of California, Berkeley, Leith Davis, Associate Professor of English Simon Fraser University, Janet Sorensen, Associate Professor of English Indiana University at Bloomington
  • Edited by Leith Davis, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Ian Duncan, University of California, Berkeley, Janet Sorensen, University of California, Berkeley
  • Book: Scotland and the Borders of Romanticism
  • Online publication: 22 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511484186.001
Available formats
×