Building on research by David Erdman, this essay seeks to re-examine Coleridge’s parliamentary reports of 1800 within the context of contemporary reporting practices. A comparison of Coleridge’s accounts of his trips to the House of Commons with standard accounts of parliamentary reporting and its norms shows that Coleridge was given special license by the editor of the Morning Post, Daniel Stuart. While David Erdman focused on the length and accuracy of the reports as a basis for his claim that Coleridge was a superior parliamentary correspondent, this essay argues that it is the space granted to Coleridge’s reports in the Morning Post and the freedom he was afforded as a journalist that demonstrates the importance of his contributions to parliamentary coverage.
The recent discovery of hundreds of unpublished letters from Joseph Severn to his wife Elizabeth complicates our standard view of “the Friend of Keats.” The new letters emphasize Severn’s own career as a painter who exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy and highlight his work in fresco and portraiture as well as religious and historical subjects. This essay discusses Severn’s important visit to England in 1838, offering annotated transcripts of two new letters from this time. These letters afford us valuable new information about Severn’s visit, his meetings with key patrons and friends and his motivations for returning to England. The complete series of sixteen letters from the summer of 1838 invites us to revise our conception of Severn’s character and his relationship with Keats.
This article argues that Thomas Moore's collection of narrative poems Lalla Rookh, an Oriental Romance (1817), by presenting disguised versions of the French Revolution and the Irish Rebellion of 1798, condemns the former but justifies the latter. As the “National Poet” and preeminent literary voice of Ireland, as well as a witness of the 1798 Rebellion, Moore was particularly concerned with the subjects of national independence and armed revolution. The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan depicts a monstrous embodiment of French Jacobinism in the form of the eighth-century false prophet Mokanna, who hides his horrific face behind a beautiful veil. In contrast to Mokanna's corrupt and evil revolution, the national uprising depicted in The Fire-worshippers is depicted as noble and justified. Moore intended this story of Persian resistance to Arab Muslim colonizers as an allegory of Irish Catholic resistance to England, with special reference to the 1798 Rebellion. The prose linking narrative of Lalla Rookh also contains a political dimension, looking forward to possible political reforms that would make armed struggle unnecessary.
This essay explores the representation of motherhood in Mary Shelley's second novel, Valperga. It argues that if the name of the hero Castruccio connotes castration, this is because the novel does indeed figure its numerous literal and figurative mothers as castrating females, and is fundamentally unable to imagine of offer a vision of complete manhood.
In this essay, I contest the view of recent historicist and New Historicist critics that the London books of The Prelude feature a “conservative view” of the city and capitalism. I argue that Wordsworth does not flee the social variety and perceived chaos of London in preference for his bourgeois domestic retreat in Grasmere. However, nor do I suggest that Wordsworth offers a “proto-Marxist” critique of capitalism. Instead, I show that the use of allegory in The Prelude enables Wordsworth not only to convey the alienating character of the city (and the law of the market dominating it), but also to explore London’s affective and imaginative potential. I argue that Wordsworth affirms the city and nature, and that his critique of certain aspects of London cannot be reduced to any ideological position – Burkean or Painite, for example.
Drawing on Adorno’s claim that the successful work of art “transcends false consciousness”, I submit that Wordsworth’s commitment to the autonomy of the aesthetic reflects a distinctly undogmatic politics (“Lyric” 214). Embodied solely as art, Wordsworth’s critique balks at any instrumental realisation. Opposing the anti-aesthetic bent of some historicist writers, I argue that Wordsworth’s art is permanently adversarial and does not harden into either a political manifesto or false consciousness. Simultaneously affirmatory and critical, The Prelude is relatively free of ideological prejudice in its exploration of the full diversity of feeling.
Critics exploring the relationship between Romantic poetry and Judaism have noted several places within William Blake’s poetry that seem to display philo-Semetic tendencies. This essay argues that Blake’s relationship with Jewish thought is much more complicated. It utilizes Spinoza’s understanding of the affect to rethink the contexts of Blake’s remarks about Judaism and “the Jew.” For Spinoza, the problem of the affect is a problem of reading and understanding what one is reading. This is particularly difficult, since the affects only confusedly make up what is called “the body”—whether this is a corporeal, political, or epistemological body. He applies this affectual problem of reading to his study of Biblical texts in the Theological Political Treatise, noting that Jewish law, in particular the Decalogue, only applies to the time and place of its production. Despite this, there are attempts to make a coherent message out of the Decalogue that can be transmitted outside of its spatio-temporal context. Blake has similar comments to make about the textual production of the Bible. According to Blake, the Bible is not a coherent document, and is rather made to be coherent by political bodies wishing to make a single, docile Christian identity. This paper uses these comments by Blake and Spinoza in a close reading of what is seemingly the most obvious example of Blake’s philo-semetic ideas: his address “To the Jews” in Jerusalem. I argue that whatever comments Blake makes about Jewish identity cannot be read outside of the complicated biopolitical contexts emerging from the address. Readers must fashion a disciplinary body for Blake that has philo-semetic beliefs and believe that this body pre-exists the time and space of its textual production in order to make conclusions about Blake’s relationship to Judaism. This process is precisely what Blake critiques in the essay.
Austen’s juvenilia is a fruitful entry point into the late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century field of “conservative” female-authored fiction centred on the development and education of adult or near-adult women. Austen is, in her treatment of female education, a highly revisionist conservative, but also, in terms of adventurousness, range of ideas, and ambitions, much more conservative than public-minded conservative writers of the 1790s, such as Clara Reeve, or some of Austen’s own contemporaries, such as Mary Brunton. It is also possible to argue that Austen’s deep scepticism about the pressures of education as ideology operating on women makes her, by a double turn, not a conservative writer. The instability and unviability of radical and conservative as categories in opposition to each other in the context of Romantic-era British women’s writing is now recognized. However, it has not been recognized that this unviability has significant consequences for our understanding of Romantic-era, female-authored fiction about female education. Tensions and instabilities mark out the female novelistic field in this period. This field is far more of an unhomogenized, patchwork arena than has been supposed, and it does not lead to the clear-cut definition of a hegemonic, bourgeois domestic female subjectivity. The narrative is far more complex, and it is misleading to reduce to a linear model the curves, fluctuations, contradictions, and possibilities for female development found in Austen’s early treatments of female education, as well as in fiction by other contemporary or near-contemporary, bold, disturbing, adventurous, “conservative” delineators of female development such as Reeve or Brunton.
In this article I consider Mary Shelley’s use of figuration, examining its characteristic forms. In three main sections address her use of allegory, what I call the “infection of the metaphorical”, and the groundless metaphor. Shelley’s writing will be looked at in dialogic relation to her predecessors and contemporaries and her peculiar stylistics discussed in terms of her sceptical attitude toward, and undermining of Romantic idealism. There will be specific emphasis on her treatment of favourite Romantic projects - nature, writing the self and the perceiving mind. Shelley will be discussed both as revisionist and saboteuse in her attitude to language.