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‘I have always sought to stand by myself’ Arnold announced in 1865.1 The remark is the more intriguing for its appearance in the first series of Essays in Criticism, a collection which, with its consideration of cultural tradition and the intricate relationality of writers, both affirms and denies autonomy. A poet-critic deeply interested in the legacy of the past and the influence of previous generations of writers, Arnold was very conscious of the particular challenges of pursuing a literary voice of one’s own in an age when the place and purpose of the arts was being questioned (not least by him), and with the Romantics still in living memory. The irony of Arnold’s wish ‘to stand by myself’ is that its registering of distinctness carries Byronic airs. With one eye on his present fame and one on posterity Byron had declared ‘I stood and stand alone’, sounding more sure of it than Arnold.2 Whether it was his powerful individualism and desire to go his own way, his defence of personal liberties and resistance to authority, or his estranged and egoistic heroes, Byron was the embodiment of self-determination for contemporaries and subsequent generations. Arnold admired Byron’s independent streak, and, ironically, found in it means of self-recognition as well as self-evaluation with which to carve out his own career. He sets up Byron as an example of what he wanted to be, as well as – more negatively – what he was prone to being, what he could not quite manage to live up to, or wanted to avoid becoming. Regard for Byron also enabled him to evaluate the legacy of different strands of English Romanticism and put his finger on what he felt was lacking in Victorian life and culture.
The idea that Auden should write a travel book occurred to him in the spring of 1936 after he had had lunch at Bryanston with Michael Yates, a former pupil from his days as a master at the Downs School. Yates reported that he was due to visit Iceland that summer as part of a small school trip, and, as he later recalled, Auden quickly became excited by the thought of the journey.1 His imagination had been stirred by thoughts of the North ever since his father had read the small boy Norse myths as bedtime stories. After some slightly tangled negotiations, Auden persuaded his publisher Faber to cover the costs of a trip, and he arranged with the teacher leading the excursion that they should meet while there: their experiences could form an element in the book that he had agreed to co-write with his friend Louis MacNeice. Auden took the boat from Hull sometime in mid-June, but as it happened MacNeice’s arrival was delayed until 9 August and the Bryanston party wasn’t scheduled to turn up till the 17, so Auden spent much of the time on his own, including the voyage out which took five or so tiresome days. He was not much taken with Reykjavik once disembarked: ‘Lutheran, drab and remote’ was his first impression.2 He spent a lonely week, with ‘nothing to do but soak in the only hotel with a licence; at ruinous expense’, not greatly diverted by the task of correcting the proofs of his next volume of poems which Faber had sent through. But then he set out to explore the island with a guide, taking an anthropological interest in local phenomena such as cheese making and herring gutting, and his spirits rose (Prose, I. 256, 258).
The polarisation of Byron and Wordsworth takes on a cartoonish tinge in the light of their poetic enmity. Byron’s bombastic lines, ‘Thou shalt believe in Milton, Dryden, Pope; / Thou shalt not set up Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey’, claim to reject Wordsworth’s circle in favour of an earlier triumvirate.1 Readers are, only half-mockingly, asked to choose between one school and another. This stark choice often sets the tone for critical debates.2 Yet the gulf between Byron and Wordsworth, as Jane Stabler and Philip Shaw have shown, is less wide than either poet cared to admit.3 Wordsworth and Byron converge upon and diverge from markedly similar points. The epic genre, Milton and his influence, and the shaping of poetic tastes become key areas of dispute for both poets. Both claim Milton in particular for very different reasons. Milton, for Byron, is an ethical and political figure used to sponsor his own self-image, where Wordsworth’s ‘reverence for his great original’ colours both his blank verse epic and his introspective mode.4 Despite their significant similarities, however, the sense remains that the two poets set themselves up in opposition to one another, shaping and defining themselves oppositionally in their political allegiances and formal choices. While Byron dealt in public sallies against Wordsworth and the Lake School, Wordsworth’s animus against the younger poet led him to participate in and encourage what Jerome McGann has called a ‘campaign of vilification’ against Byron.5 Poetic enmity proved to be a more potent and vital form of influence than alliance as Byron and Wordsworth fought to set the taste of a nation.
At first glance, Byron and Keats make an unlikely pair. Keats dismissed Byron as being merely interested in cutting a figure and pinned his literary success to the advantages of being six feet tall and a lord, while Byron disdained ‘that little dirty blackguard KEATES’ and snobbishly suggested he was spoiled by ‘Cockneyfying & Suburbing’ (BLJ, VII. 229; VIII. 102). The one was a middle-class poet who died young with little fanfare and a relatively slim output of published work. The other was a nobleman, a world-famous celebrity, with a prolific output of bestselling poems. But what might we learn about each poet by thinking about them together? And what might their pairing tell us about Romanticism more broadly?
There are numerous records of Byron and Shelley’s discussions, including, perhaps above all, Shelley’s brilliant conversation poem, Julian and Maddalo, in which Shelley’s ‘Byron’ is Count Maddalo and Shelley’s ‘Shelley’ is Julian. Like the conversation of Julian and Maddalo, the conversation with which I want to begin this consideration of the overlapping poetries and poetics of Byron and Shelley may or may not have happened quite as reported. ‘Byron and Shelley on the Character of Hamlet’ appeared in the New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal eight years after Shelley’s death and six after Byron’s.
This chapter examines the engagement of Irish women poets of the Romantic period with the politics of their age, while also analysing their relationship to their British and Irish literary predecessors and contemporaries. After an introductory section, the essay explores the engagement of Henrietta Battier and Mary Leadbeater with the politics of the 1790s, in particular the Society of United Irishmen and the antislavery movement. It then turns to the post-Union period, and the circle of writers associated with two interrelated families, the Sheridans and the Lefanus, in Dublin, before looking north to the work of two Ulster women poets, Mary Balfour and Anne Lutton. The final section of the chapter considers Louisa Stuart Costello's poetic response to Napoleon’s career, her cosmopolitanism, and her work as a translator.
From the revival of the English theatres under the Restoration to the rise of a transnational Romantic theatre in the early nineteenth century, developments in dramatic literature and acting mirrored shifting medical constructions of the body, disease, and health. At the same time, they reflected a deep cultural anxiety about the feigning of illness. This chapter will consider how notions of both true and false ill-health were explored in English drama of the long eighteenth century through the medium of the performed symptom. Symptoms could disclose dramatic internal truths, or could be faked by both patients and actors – and misread by doctors and spectators – to comic effect. For most of the eighteenth century, the latter model prevailed as playwrights and actors drew upon theatre’s association with fakery to mock affected invalidism, incompetent physicians, and the frauds of fashionable society. As nerve-based conceptions of sensibility and vitalist paradigms rose to prominence, however, a new generation of playwrights and performers called upon disease’s symptoms not to spoof quackery but to represent emotional interiority. The resulting performance languages would help to give birth to the Romantic stage.
The explicit attention to Classicism and Romanticism in Arcadia and The Invention of Love highlights Stoppard’s interest in the dramatic potential of contrasting head and heart. However, beyond the simple opposition of aesthetic categories and temperaments, the Classical-Romantic dynamic generates the playwright’s deepest understanding of history, epistemology, and creativity. Indeed, it cuts to the very nature of theatre as an art form and Stoppard’s approach to it.
If the eighteenth century was dominated by a French Enlightenment idea of Europe, following the French Revolution and then the Napoleon Wars, the early nineteenth century saw the rise of a German Romantic idea of Europe, dominated by strains of cultural nationalism. On the one hand, German Romantics such as Novalis looked back nostalgically to medieval Christendom for the model of a united Europe; on the other hand, thinkers such as Johann Gottlieb Fichte and the Schlegel brothers dreamed of a Europe dominated by German culture. The roots of the shift from universalism to nationalism lay in the work of writers such as Johann Gottfried Herder, who challenged French Enlightenment universalism with an insistence upon cultural differences. While Herder also challenged the prevailing Eurocentrism and Euro-universalism, the post-Napoleonic era saw both a growing nationalism across Europe and an intensifying European imperialism that would culminate in the “scramble for Africa” in the late nineteenth century. Chapter 3 explores the complex relation between the idea of Europe and that of nationalism in the Romantic period, focusing in particular on the ways in which the ostensibly antithetical ideas of the universal and the national were integrated into the idea of Europe.
William Wordsworth, Second-Generation Romantic provides a truly comprehensive reading of 'late' Wordsworth and the full arc of his career from (1814–1840) revealing that his major poems after Waterloo contest poetic and political issues with his younger contemporaries: Keats, Shelley and Byron. Refuting conventional models of influence, where Wordsworth 'fathers' the younger poets, Cox demonstrates how Wordsworth's later writing evolved in response to 'second generation' romanticism. After exploring the ways in which his younger contemporaries rewrote his 'Excursion', this volume examines how Wordsworth's 'Thanksgiving Ode' enters into a complex conversation with Leigh Hunt and Byron; how the delayed publication of 'Peter Bell' could be read as a reaction to the Byronic hero; how the older poet's River Duddon sonnets respond to Shelley's 'Mont Blanc'; and how his later volumes, particularly 'Memorials of a Tour in Italy, 1837', engage in a complicated erasure of poets who both followed and predeceased him.
In this chapter, I endeavor to weave together a complex series of European legal developments connected with the emergence of intellectual property. I begin by tracing the emergence of intellectual property in France, focusing on the context for this development in the revolutionary processes through which a new French nation was formed, and on the ambivalent implications of national codification for intellectual property in France. I then go back to the Reformation, pointing out the significance of Calvinist and Lutheran legal dcotrines for jurisprudential traditions carrying new conceptions of sovereignty and natural rights. Shifting to the legacies of these traditions for legal and administrative theories that developed in German-speaking lands, we see early foundations for a new jurisprudential narrative that becomes vital to the substantive rationale of intellectual property in our own time: progressivism. The upshot of these complex developments is a paradoxical linkage between bureaucratic impersonalism in the formal application of legal doctrines and an idealizing personalism in the agentive capacities of individual human beings: the idolizing of "genius."
Ibsen, more than any other playwright, established realism as a vital mode in the theatre. The nature of Ibsen’s realism, however, warrants careful description. Realism for Ibsen is simultaneously a theatrical technique and a philosophical stance. We find realism at work in Ibsen’s dialogue, scenery and characterization, as well as in the plays’ relentless critique of bourgeois ideals. Ibsen was not the first realist dramatist, but he remains its most influential practitioner. This legacy is somewhat ironic, given the disturbing surreality that leeches through the realist surface of his plays. And yet, the spark of recognition the plays continue to ignite bears witness to realism’s effectiveness, as audiences continue to find themselves represented, in all their faults, in his towering dramas.
The chapter sees Ibsen’s success as a playwright through the lens of his books as material, visual, technological, commercial and social objects. It explores his publisher Gyldendal’s strategies for enhancing Ibsen’s name in the market by means of his books. In the course of Ibsen’s more than thirty years of collaboration with Gyldendal, his books’ bindings went through three main phases: The rococo revival period (1867–81), the ‘Ibsen signature binding’ (1882–98) and the Collected Works (1898). All three phases take into account the taste of readers, current ideas in craft and design, new technology, as well as representing consciously wrought marketing moves. The lavishly decorated cloth bindings were introduced in full agreement with Ibsen and they reflected a pull towards the sentimental among his middle-class book buyers. The signature binding was a decorated prototype cloth binding exclusively designed for Ibsen. The claim is that the signature binding, by means of its uniform design as well as by making the author’s name the most eye-catching part of the front cover, utilized Romantic ideas about the author-genius.
The chapter outlines four major currents in academic Ibsen criticism, all of which have their roots in how Ibsen’s plays were received as early as the 1860s. The modernist Ibsen stems from his well-known inscrutability, and reached its peak in the criticism of the mid-twentieth century. Critics focusing on the realist Ibsen typically highlight his power as a social critic, in the tradition of George Bernard Shaw’s The Quintessence of Ibsenism from 1890. The image of an idealist Ibsen emerges from the seemingly indefatigable existence of lofty ideals in his work, ideals that remain in sight whether or not they prove tragically unfulfilled. Finally, there is a romantic-demonic Ibsen, particularly analysed by G. Wilson Knight and Harold Bloom, which emphasizes the playwright’s tendency to first and foremost delight in his own aestheticized transgressions of ordinary morality.
Most Ruskin studies deal with his art theory and economic theory separately. This chapter intends to interpret both discourses in a unified way from the viewpoint of romanticism. While his economic theory is famously summarized in a thesis ‘No wealth but life’ the art theory he worked on can be formalized as a thesis ‘No beauty but life’. Thus we have a unified thesis, ‘Neither wealth nor beauty but life’, which may be called ‘Ruskin’s triangle’. I argue that the concept of life is vital for Ruskin’s unified knowledge. It is identified with its three aspects (capability, composition, and labour) and linked with its six symbolic determinants (admiration, hope, and love; air, water, and earth).
Built around two visits to Westminster Abbey, this short coda compares early eighteenth-century attitudes to theatrical transitions to William Hazlitt's and Charles Lamb's writing about actors. Both Lamb and Hazlitt emerge as hostile to what I have called the art of transition, as they each denigrate the performance of a character in favour of the study of that figure’s psychological constitution.
Millán Brusslan focuses upon what was unique about Schlegel’s philosophical lens, a lens uniquely suited to capturing social injustice. She undertakes an examination of the roots of Schlegel’s philosophical pluralism and his project of blending philosophy and poetry. She argues that Schlegel’s push to blend disciplines was part of a project to reform our approach to truth, a topic explored in the first and second sections of the paper. The new philosophical lens developed by Schlegel allowed him to see what other thinkers overlooked and to address urgent social issues that needed attention, especially the exclusion of women from philosophy. The reforming spirit of Schlegel’s thought is most systematically developed in an essay on Kant’s Perpetual Peace, and so in the third and fourth sections, Kant’s essay and Schlegel’s critique of it are analyzed to highlight the political implications of Schlegel’s thought.
The realist novel can be understood to bear witness to a changed understanding of history, ushered in with the modern era. This chapter argues that the French realist novel grew out of the historical novel, insofar as it attempted to offer a history of the present. However, a history of the present is challenging if not impossible to write because of the difficulty, and even the impossibility, of achieving a sufficiently distanced vantage point. French realist novels, consequently, aim to represent present reality but indirectly suggest the impossibility of any such representation. The chapter goes on to show that the French realist novels of the 1830s draw attention to the changeable nature of the present, partly because of the unstable social and political contexts of nineteenth-century France, and partly because of a shift in the way that people conceived of present reality. In at least two broad and closely interconnected senses, therefore, the early French realist novel is profoundly historical in its ambitions: it aims to offer a history of the present, however flawed that attempted history necessarily is, and it reveals the historical, or mutable, qualities of the present that it attempts to capture.
The two main drivers of women’s novels between 1800 and 1830 were the love-intrigue and a keen interest in politics. The market played a part: readers craved love-stories but, as avid followers of the national upheavals of the period, they were not solely seeking escapism. Thus, for example, egalitarian perspectives often shape the plots of these women’s novels. Among those who performed a (sometimes precarious) balancing-act between ‘romance’ and ‘social critique’ were Stéphanie de Genlis, Adélaïde de Souza, Julie de Krüdener, Sophie Cottin, Sophie Gay and Claire de Duras. The linchpin was the celebrity Germaine de Staël, who set the agenda not only for contemporary novelists but also for many later ones, both male and female. With characters like the creative Corinne, as well as through feminist analyses and comparative literary criticism, she influenced writers throughout Europe and in the United States. For Staël, romance, Romanticism, history and social critique were interwoven. Her contribution to Western culture is increasingly highlighted by literary scholars and intellectual historians, and in 2017 France bestowed on her a significant accolade: publication in the prestigious Pléiade series.
Rounding out the previous chapter’s treatment of Victorian narrative with the early modernist prose of Henry James, analysis returns to the ontology of language in Agamben, leading on to a more philologically oriented history of prose – pivoted on the Enlightenment rise of the “plain style” – in research by John Guillory. Such is a mode of discourse whose potential stranglehold on future developments in literary writing is contrasted with a recovered premium on the densities of rhythm and sonority. Literary examples extend from Whitman’s insurgent lexical poetics, through D. H. Lawrence’s grammatically impacted style, to the stripped-down phrasal ironies of Kazuo Ishiguro – before returning to Friedrich Kittler on the ideologies of speech as medium in the post-Enlightenment century. Discussion closes with an adapted Heideggerian model for the present-at-handness of language itself in medial disclosure – rather than just in scriptive use.