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A Brighter Word Than Bright

Keats at Work

Dan Beachy-Quick

The Romantic poet John Keats, considered by many as one of the greatest poets in the English language, has long been the subject of attention from scholars who seek to understand him and poets who seek to emulate him. Bridging these impulses, A Brighter Word Than Bright is neither historical biography nor scholarly study, but instead a biography of Keats’s poetic imagination. Here the noted poet Dan Beachy-Quick enters into Keats’s writing—both his letters and his poems—not to critique or judge, not to claim or argue, but to embrace the passion and quickness of his poetry and engage the aesthetic difficulties with which Keats grappled.
Combining a set of biographical portraits that place symbolic pressure on key moments in Keats’s life with a chronological examination of the development of Keats-as-poet through his poems and letters, Beachy-Quick explores the growth of the young man’s poetic imagination during the years of his writing life, from 1816 to 1820. A Brighter Word Than Bright aims to enter the poems and the mind that wrote them, to explore and mine Keats’s poetic concerns and ambitions. It is a mimetic tribute to the poet’s life and work, a brilliant enactment that is also a thoughtful consideration.

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The Brink of All We Hate

English Satires on Women, 1660--1750

Felicity A. Nussbaum

"Is it not monstrous, that our Seducers should be our Accusers? Will they not employ Fraud, nay often Force to gain us? What various Arts, what Stratagems, what Wiles will they use for our Destruction? But that once accomplished, every opprobrious Term with which our Language so plentifully abounds, shall be bestowed on us, even by the very Villains who have wronged us" -- Laetitia Pilkington, Memoirs (1748).

In her scandalous Memoirs, Laetitia Pilkington spoke out against the English satires of the Restoration and eighteenth century, which employed "every opprobrious term" to chastise women. In The Brink of All We Hate, Felicity Nussbaum documents and groups those opprobrious terms in order to identify the conventions of the satires, to demonstrate how those conventions create a myth, to provide critical readings of poetic texts in the antifeminist tradition, and to draw some conclusions about the basic nature of satire. Nussbaum finds that the English tradition of antifeminist satire draws on a background that includes Hesiod, Horace, Ovid, and Juvenal, as well as the more modern French tradition of La Bruyere and Boileau and the late seventeenth-century English pamphlets by Gould, Fige, and Ames. The tradition was employed by the major figures of the golden age of satire -- Samuel Butler, Dryden, Swift, Addison, and Pope.

Examining the elements of the tradition of antifeminist satire and exploring its uses, from the most routine to the most artful, by the various poets, Nussbaum reveals a clearer context in which many poems of the Restoration and eighteenth century will be read anew.

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British Romanticism and the Critique of Political Reason

Timothy Michael

What role should reason play in the creation of a free and just society? Can we claim to know anything in a field as complex as politics? And how can the cause of political rationalism be advanced when it is seen as having blood on its hands? These are the questions that occupied a group of British poets, philosophers, and polemicists in the years following the French Revolution. Timothy Michael argues that much literature of the period is a trial, or a critique, of reason in its political capacities and a test of the kinds of knowledge available to it. For Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Burke, Wollstonecraft, and Godwin, the historical sequence of revolution, counter-revolution, and terror in France—and radicalism and repression in Britain—occasioned a dramatic reassessment of how best to advance the project of enlightenment. The political thought of these figures must be understood, Michael contends, in the context of their philosophical thought. Major poems of the period, including The Prelude, The Excursion, and Prometheus Unbound, are in this reading an adjudication of competing political and epistemological claims. This book bridges for the first time two traditional pillars of Romantic studies: the period’s politics and its theories of the mind and knowledge. Combining literary and intellectual history, it provides an account of British Romanticism in which high rhetoric, political prose, poetry, and poetics converge in a discourse of enlightenment and emancipation.

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British Women Poets and the Romantic Writing Community

Stephen C. Behrendt

This compelling study recovers the lost lives and poems of British women poets of the Romantic era. Stephen C. Behrendt reveals the range and diversity of their writings, offering new perspectives on the work of dozens of women whose poetry has long been ignored or marginalized in traditional literary history. British Romanticism was once thought of as a cultural movement defined by a small group of male poets. This book grants women poets their proper place in the literary tradition of the time. Behrendt first approaches the subject thematically, exploring the ways in which the poems addressed both public concerns and private experiences. He next examines the use of particular genres, including the sonnet and various other long and short forms. In the concluding chapters, Behrendt explores the impact of national identity, providing the first extensive study of Romantic-era poetry by women from Scotland and Ireland. In recovering the lives and work of these women, Behrendt reveals their active participation within the rich cultural community of writers and readers throughout the British Isles. This study will be a key resource for scholars, teachers, and students in British literary studies, women’s studies, and cultural history.

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Broadcasting Modernism

Edited by Debra Rae Cohen, Michael Coyle, and Jane Lewty

It has long been accepted that film helped shape the modernist novel and that modernist poetry would be inconceivable without the typewriter. Yet radio, a key influence on modernist literature, remains the invisible medium.

The contributors to Broadcasting Modernism argue that radio led to changes in textual and generic forms. Modernist authors embraced the emerging medium, creating texts that were to be heard but not read, incorporating the device into their stories, and using it to publicize their work. They saw in radio the same spirit of experimentation that animated modernism itself.

Because early broadcasts were rarely recorded, radio's influence on literary modernism often seems equally ephemeral in the historical record. Broadcasting Modernism helps fill this void, providing a new perspective for modernist studies even as it reconfigures the landscape of the era itself.

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Broken Harmony

Shakespeare and the Politics of Music

Music was a subject of considerable debate during the Renaissance. The notion that music could be interpreted in a meaningful way clashed regularly with evidence that music was in fact profoundly promiscuous in its application and effects. Subsequently, much writing in the period reflects a desire to ward off music's illegibility rather than come to terms with its actual effects. In Broken Harmony, Joseph M. Ortiz revises our understanding of music's relationship to language in Renaissance England. In the process he shows the degree to which discussions of music were ideologically and politically charged.

Offering a historically nuanced account of the early modern debate over music, along with close readings of several of Shakespeare's plays (including Titus Andronicus, The Merchant of Venice, The Tempest, and The Winter's Tale) and Milton's A Maske, Ortiz challenges the consensus that music's affinity with poetry was widely accepted, or even desired, by Renaissance poets. Shakespeare more than any other early modern poet exposed the fault lines in the debate about music's function in art, repeatedly staging disruptive scenes of music that expose an underlying struggle between textual and sensuous authorities. Such musical interventions in textual experiences highlight the significance of sound as an aesthetic and sensory experience independent of any narrative function.

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The Browning Critics

edited by Boyd Litzinger and K. L. Knickerbocker

The poetry of Robert Browning has been the subject of extensive literary criticism since his death in 1889. Two well-known Browning scholars here present the best of Browning criticism, bringing together from many sources representative evaluations of the poet and his poetry. The twenty-one essays here have been arranged chronologically so that the reader can follow the development of Browning studies and the fluctuations of his poetic reputation. They express varied points of view and are typical of the critical methods used by the Browning scholars. Included are essays by George Santayana, John J. Chapman, G. K. Chesterton, Paul Elmer More, William C. DeVane, Hoxie N. Fairchild, and Richard D. Altick.

In the introduction Mr. Litzinger and Mr. Knickerbocker review the broad spectrum of Browning criticism. The editors also provide a bibliographic guide to the rapidly growing body of Browning criticism, which supplements and brings up to date previous Browning bibliographies.

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Browning’s Beginnings

The Art of Disclosure

Herbert F. Tucker Jr.

Browning's Beginnings was first published in 1980. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Browning's Beginnings offers a fresh approach to the poet who, among major Victorians, has proved at once the most congenial and most inscrutable to modern readers. Drawing on recent developments in literary theory and in the criticism of romantic poetry, Herbert

F. Tucker, Jr., argues that Browning's stylistic "obscurity" is the result of a principled poetics of evasion. This art of disclosure, in deferring formal and semantic finalities, constitutes an aesthetic counterpart to his open-ended moral philosophy of

"incompleteness," Browning's poems, like his enormously productive career, find their motivation and sustenance in his optimistic love of the future—a love that is indistinguishable from his lifelong fear that there will be nothing left to say.

The opening chapters trace the workings of Browning's art of disclosure with extensive and original interpretations of the unduly neglected early poems, Pauline, Paracelsus, and Sordello, and place special emphasis on Browning's attitudes toward poetic tradition and language. A chapter on Browning's attitudes toward poetic tradition and language. A chapter on Browning's plays identifies dynamics of representation in Pippa Passes, Strafford,and King Victor and King Charles. Tucker discusses the pervasive analogy between Browning's ideas about poetic representation and about representation in its erotic and religious aspects, and shows how the early poems and plays illustrate correlative developments in poetics and in the exploration and dramatic rendering of human psychology. The remaining chapters follow the poetic psychology of Browning to its culmination in the great poems of his middle years; exemplary readings of selected dramatic lyrics and monologues suggest that the ways of meaning in Browning's mature work variously bear out the sense of endlessness or perpetual initiation that is central to his poetic beginnings.

Tucker thus contends that the "romantic" and the "Victorian" Browning have more in common than is generally supposed, and his book should appeal to students of both periods. Its discussion of general literary issues - poetic influence, closure, representation, and meaning - in application to particular texts should further recommend Browning's Beginnings to the nonspecialist reader interested in poetry and poetic theory.

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The Bureaucratic Muse

Thomas Hoccleve and the Literature of Late Medieval England

Ethan Knapp

Long neglected as a marginal and eccentric figure, Thomas Hoccleve (1367–1426) wrote some of the most sophisticated and challenging poetry of the late Middle Ages. Full of gossip and autobiographical detail, his work has made him immensely useful to modern scholars, yet Hoccleve the poet has remained decidedly in the shadow of Geoffrey Chaucer. In The Bureaucratic Muse, Ethan Knapp investigates the connections between Hoccleve's poetic corpus and his life as a clerk of the Privy Seal. The early fifteenth century was a watershed moment in the histories of both centralized bureaucracy and English vernacular literature. These were the decades in which Chaucer's experiments in a courtly English poetry were rendered into a stable tradition and in which the central writing offices at Westminster emerged from personal government into the full-blown modernity of independent civil service. Knapp shows the importance of Hoccleve's poetry as a site where these two histories come together. By following the shifting relationship between the texts of vernacular poetry and those of bureaucratic documents, Knapp argues that the roots of vernacular fiction reach back into the impersonal documentary habits of a bureaucratic class. The Bureaucratic Muse, the first full-length study of Hoccleve since 1968, provides an authoritative historical and textual treatment of this important but underappreciated writer. Chapters focus on Hoccleve's importance in consolidating key concepts of the literary field such as autobiography, religious heterodoxy, gendered identity, and post-Chaucer textuality. This book will be of interest to scholars of Middle English literature, autobiography, gender studies, and the history of literary institutions.

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But the Irish Sea Betwixt Us

Ireland, Colonialism, and Renaissance Literature

Andrew Murphy

At the rise of the Tudor age, England began to form a national identity. With that sense of self came the beginnings of the colonialist notion of the "other"" Ireland, however, proved a most difficult other because it was so closely linked, both culturally and geographically, to England. Ireland's colonial position was especially complex because of the political, religious, and ethnic heritage it shared with England. Andrew Murphy asserts that the Irish were seen not as absolute but as "proximate" others. As a result, English writing about Ireland was a problematic process, since standard colonial stereotypes never quite fit the Irish. But the Irish Sea Betwixt Us examines the English view of the "imperfect" other by looking at Ireland through works by Spenser, Jonson, and Shakespeare. Murphy also considers a broad range of materials from the Renaissance period, including journals, pamphlets, histories, and state papers.

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