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Literary Couplings

Writing Couples, Collaborators, and the Construction of Authorship

Edited by Marjorie Stone and Judith Thompson

Publication Year: 2006

This innovative collection challenges the traditional focus on solitary genius by examining the rich diversity of literary couplings and collaborations from the early modern to the postmodern period. Literary Couplings explores some of the best-known literary partnerships—from the Sidneys to Boswell and Johnson to Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes—and also includes lesser-known collaborators such as Daphne Marlatt and Betsy Warland. The essays place famous authors such as Samuel Coleridge, Oscar Wilde, and William Butler Yeats in new contexts; reassess overlooked members of writing partnerships; and throw new light on texts that have been marginalized due to their collaborative nature. By integrating historical studies with authorship theory, Literary Couplings goes beyond static notions of the writing "couple" to explore literary couplings created by readers, critics, historians, and publishers as well as by writers themselves, thus expanding our understanding of authorship.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


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pp. v-vii

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pp. ix

While the web of collaboration involved in a book like this is too intricate to be captured in a list, we would above all like to thank our contributors for entering so enthusiastically, creatively, and patiently into the spirit of an evolving project. They generously and energetically responded to all of our requests ...

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Prologue: Signs of the Times: Five Snapshots of Contemporary Authorship

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pp. xi-xiv

“In the modern era it isn’t enough to write,” comments Tony Kushner, author of the highly successful play Angels in America. “[Y]ou must also be a Writer. . . . You become a character in a metadrama into which your own dramatizing has pitched you. ...

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Contexts and Heterotexts: A Theoretical and Historical Introduction.

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pp. 3-38

Readers have long been fascinated by writing couples. The sibling intimacies of Dorothy and William Wordsworth have intrigued both academic scholars and popular biographers. Several films and books have traced the birth of Frankenstein in the tempestuously creative lives of Percy and Mary Shelley, ...

I. Early Modern “Coupled Worke”

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"Warpe” and “Webb” in the Sidney Psalms: The “Coupled Worke” of the Countess of Pembroke and Sir Philip Sidney

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pp. 41-58

Sir Philip Sidney (1554–1586) and his sister, the Countess of Pembroke (1561–1621), constituted one of the most powerful literary alliances in early modern England. Both now have major editions of their complete works, with the Clarendon edition of Lady Mary Sidney Herbert being the more recent addition ...

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Constructing an Adventure and Negotiating for Narrative Control: Johnson and Boswell in the Hebrides

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pp. 59-78

On 18 August 1773 Samuel Johnson and James Boswell finally began the journey to “the Western Isles of Scotland” they had imagined making since shortly after they met in 1763. The trip, like the whole relationship, was richly and variously collaborative. Johnson and Boswell continued to play the roles they had developed ...

II. Romantic Joint Labor

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Editing Minervas: William Godwin’s Liminal Maneuvers in Mary Wollstonecraft’s Wrongs of Woman

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pp. 81-99

Literary collaboration has been a subject of recent critical fascination. The editors of a collection of essays on mostly twentieth-century literary couples suggest that “although most of the artists and writers concerned have not escaped social stereotypes about masculinity and femininity and their assumed roles ...

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Home at Grasmere Again: Revising the Family in Dove Cottage

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pp. 100-123

Romantic notions of “author” as isolated genius are remarkably persistent, not only among professional literary critics (as Jack Stillinger demonstrates in Multiple Authorship and the Myth of Solitary Genius) but among our students and presumably also among the less specialized readers outside the academy ...

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"The Body of My Father’s Writings”: Sara Coleridge’s Genial Labor

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pp. 124-148

Apprehensive about the future of Coleridge’s unfinished literary projects, Robert Southey wrote in 1803: “I know not when any of his works will appear—& tremble lest an untimely death should leave me the task of putting together the fragments of his materials.”1 This very task fell to ...

III. Victorian Complementarities and Crosscurrents

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"Singing Song for Song”: The Brownings “in the Poetic Relation”

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pp. 151-174

Dear Cory, I opened the newspaper recently and encountered once again “How do I love thee?”—this time in an article about a psychotherapist teaching a seminar on “the dying art of love-letter writing.” At least this is better than the bathos of a fashion-magazine ad asking “How can I glove you?” ...

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Collaboration and Collusion: Two Victorian Writing Couples and Their Orientalist Texts

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pp. 175-192

In a lengthy review article on “Lady Travellers” published in the Quarterly Review in 1845, Elizabeth Rigby (later Lady Eastlake) made the following bold claim for the distinctiveness of women’s travel writing and the special gendered knowledge it could communicate: ...

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"An Uninterrupted Current”: Homoeroticism and Collaborative Authorship in Teleny

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pp. 193-208

Described by Neil Bartlett as “London’s first gay porn novel,” Teleny: Or The Reverse of the Medal: A Physiological Romance of To-Day first appeared in 1893 in a private edition of two hundred copies. No author’s name was given, but its publisher, Leonard Smithers, issued a prospectus in which he described the writer ...

IV. Literary Modernity: Mythmakers and Muses

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Courting the Muse: Dorothy Wellesley and W. B. Yeats

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pp. 211-228

William Butler Yeats discovered Dorothy Wellesley’s poetry in 1935 while compiling The Oxford Book of Modern Verse, 1892–1935. His “eyes filled with tears” because a living poet had finally succeeded in restoring his faith in modern poetry and in his own ability to recognize good verse.1 ...

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Not Elizabeth to His Ralegh: Laura Riding, Robert Graves, and the Origins of the White Goddess

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pp. 229-240

It is almost sixty years since Laura Riding and Robert Graves parted, time enough for a vast store of valuations of these two as people and writers to accumulate, for the comparative worth of their individual contributions to collaborative projects to be sifted and sorted, for the marks made on the literary record ...

V. Writing Back: Postcolonial and Contemporary Contestation and Retrospection

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Competing Versions of a Love Story: Mircea Eliade and Maitreyi Devi

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pp. 243-259

At first glance Mircea Eliade and Maitreyi Devi seem less like a literary couple than literary combatants. In 1933 the renowned scholar Mircea Eliade wrote what he claimed to be a semiautobiographical novel about his romance with a young Bengali poet, which he originally entitled Maitreyi but later retitled Bengal Nights.1 ...

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"Your Sentence Was Mine Too”: Reading Sylvia Plath in Ted Hughes’s Birthday Letters

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pp. 260-287

The sudden publication of Ted Hughes’s Birthday Letters in February 1998 made headlines on both sides of the Atlantic. This fact was no sooner noted than it was assimilated by the media back into the reception of the poems. Most considerations of Birthday Letters opened just as I began mine, namely, ...

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Crowding the Garret: Women’s Collaborative Writing and the Problematics of Space

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pp. 288-308

There is a photograph of the late-nineteenth-century Anglo-Irish collaborators “Somerville and Ross” that I find both quietly powerful and suggestive of the very condition of women writing together. Seated together in a garret (that stereotypically favored haunt of the Romantic, inspired [male] artist), ...

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Taking Joint Stock: A Critical Survey of Scholarship on Literary Couples and Collaboration

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pp. 309-334

As our introductory section and the essays in this book indicate, research on literary couples, collaborative writing, and the construction of authorship has grown rapidly across a number of fields during the last two decades. For the most part, however, academics tend to approach these subjects within the contexts ...


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pp. 335-360


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pp. 361-364


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pp. 365-373

E-ISBN-13: 9780299217631
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299217648

Publication Year: 2006