Abstract

The conceptual systems of romance and libertinism appear to offer opposing solutions to human frustration, and Rochester's poetry is typically read as endorsing one or the other perceptual mode. But such a neat division between idealized courtly love and unimpeded creaturely passion is untenable. I propose to demonstrate Rochester's awareness of the cohesion of romance sanguinity and libertine cynicism through a discussion of his use of the pastoral mode, which absorbs the ideals of both Greek romance and Epicurean libertinism. Unfortunately, these discourses of love and freedom encourage aggression and hypocrisy even as they promise to secure idyllic harmony, and the detached hedonism cultivated by Rochester's speakers thus conspicuously fails to transcend the disturbing maelstrom that is human desire. Far from escaping the salacious or sentimental aspects of experience, efforts to surmount erotic disappointment reveal that libertinism itself occupies the realm of romance: both offer the compensatory fictions without which human experience would be intolerable.

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1086-315X
Print ISSN
0013-2586
Pages
pp. 441-459
Launched on MUSE
2005-03-28
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.