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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.
The Art of Disclosure
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, HerbertF. 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.
On Ethics and Reading in Nineteenth-Century British Literature
"In some moods, or for some people, the desire to improve can seem so natural as to be banal. The impulse drives forward so much in our culture that it can color our thoughts and shape our actions without being much noticed. But in other moods, or for other people, this strenuous desire becomes all too noticeable, and its demands crushing. It can then drive a sleepless attention to ourselves, a desolate evaluation of what we have been and what we are."-from The Burdens of Perfection
Literary criticism has, in recent decades, rather fled from discussions of moral psychology, and for good reasons, too. Who would not want to flee the hectoring moralism with which it is so easily associated-portentous, pious, humorless? But in protecting us from such fates, our flight has had its costs, as we have lost the concepts needed to recognize and assess much of what distinguished nineteenth-century British literature. That literature was inescapably ethical in orientation, and to proceed as if it were not ignores a large part of what these texts have to offer, and to that degree makes less reasonable the desire to study them, rather than other documents from the period, or from other periods.
Such are the intuitions that drive The Burdens of Perfection, a study of moral perfectionism in nineteenth-century British culture. Reading the period's essayists (Mill, Arnold, Carlyle), poets (Browning and Tennyson), and especially its novelists (Austen, Dickens, Eliot, and James), Andrew H. Miller provides an extensive response to Stanley Cavell's contribution to ethics and philosophy of mind. In the process, Miller offers a fresh way to perceive the Victorians and the lingering traces their quests for improvement have left on readers.
Thomas Hoccleve and the Literature of Late Medieval England
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.
Ireland, Colonialism, and Renaissance Literature
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.
Vol. 37 (2009) through current issue
The Byron Journal is an international publication published twice annually by Liverpool University Press for The Byron Society. The journal publishes scholarly articles and notes on all aspects of Byron's writings and life, and on related topics. Since its inception in 1973, the journal has become widely read in many different countries. Apart from providing a forum for leading authorities on Byron and news of significant events and conferences in the Byron year, the journal also reviews all major works on the poet and prides itself on the speed with which new books are reviewed.
Reshaping the Image of the Cosmos
C. S. Lewis considered his novel Perelandra (1943) among his favorite works. A triumph of imaginative science fiction writing, Perelandra—part of Lewis’s “Space Trilogy”—is also theologically ambitious. C. S. Lewis’s Perelandra: Reshaping the Image of the Cosmos argues that point and also how the novel synthesizes the three traditions of cosmology, mythology, and Christianity. The first group of essays considers the cosmological implications of the world Lewis depicts in Perelandra while the second group examines the relationship between morality and meaning in Lewis’s created cosmology of the world of Perelandra.
This work brings together a world-class group of literary and theological scholars and Lewis specialists that includes Paul S. Fid-des, Monika B. Hilder, Sanford Schwartz, Michael Travers, and Michael Ward. The collection is enhanced by Walter Hooper’s reminiscences of his conversations with Lewis about Perelandra and the possible provenance of the stories in Lewis’s imagination.
C. S. Lewis scholars and devoted readers alike will find this volume indispensible to the understanding of this canonical work of speculative fiction.
Reginald Pecock's Books and Textual Communities
The Call to Read is the first full-length study to situate the surviving oeuvre of Reginald Pecock in the context of current scholarship on English vernacular theology of the late medieval period. Kirsty Campbell examines the important and innovative contribution Pecock made to late medieval debates about the roles of the Bible, the Church, the faculty of reason, and practices of devotion in fostering a vital, productive, and stable Christian community. Campbell argues that Pecock’s fascinating attempt to educate the laity is more than an effort to supply religious reading material: it is an attempt to establish and unite a community of readers around his books, to influence and thus change the ways they understand their faith, the world, and their place in it. The aim of Pecock’s educational project is to harness the power of texts to effect religious change. Combining traditional approaches with innovative thinking on moral philosophy, devotional exercises, and theological doctrine, Pecock’s works of religious instruction are his attempt to reform a Christian community threatened by heresy through reshaping meaningful Christian practices and forms of belief. Campbell’s book will be of interest to scholars and students of medieval literature and culture, especially those interested in fifteenth-century religious history and culture.
Thomas Rice uses the concept of cannibalism (what he calls "dismemberment, ingestion, and reprocessing") to describe Joyce's incorporation of so many literary and cultural allusions, both "high" and "popular." Beginning with examples of actual and symbolic cannibalism that fascinated Joyce--the Donner party, the Catholic Eucharist--Rice moves on to the ways Joyce appropriated language and elements of material culture into his work.
In Cannibal Joyce, Rice deftly offers a wide range of surprising connections and fascinating insights. A look at Berlitz's approach to teaching language leads to an examination of Joyce's aesthetic of disjunction in language. He compares Joyce and Joseph Conrad in light of the difficulties of modernism for readers through a startling and convincing discussion of the condom. And by focusing attention on colonial tales of cannibalism and Britain's treatment of the Irish, he provides a unique perspective on Joyce's politics.
A Critical Edition
Costello-Sullivan has compiled a student-friendly version of Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1872 vampire tale, “Carmilla.” This critical edition includes an introduction by the editor, a timeline, a short biographical sketch of the author, a selected bibliography, and four original, scholar-authored essays that explicate the novella for an undergraduate audience. This work situates “Carmilla” within its Irish cultural milieu and treats the text as self-standing rather than as a precursor to Dracula.