In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

HUMANITIES 243 use of sensory imagery, suggesting that her vision was hypersensitized as a result of that ocular affliction. Dickinson's hypersensitivity to light provided a vital metaphor for her creative process, whichfavoured ;Night's possibility' over the harsh glare of daylight. In a concluding chapter, McSweeney offers some suggestive comments on perceptual dynamics in the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins and Alfred Lord Tennyson. However, The Language of the Senses would be a more useful and comprehensive studyifit had engaged the poetry of Keats and Shelley, both of whom use vivid sensory imagery in strikingly unorthodox ways. Another significant limitation of this study is its failure to discuss kinaesthetic imagery, animportant sensory modality for allof the writers discussed here. VVhen Wordsworth describes how an ice-skater cuts across 'the reflex of a star,' or Coleridge portrays 'tipsy Joy that reels with tossing head,' the evoked sensation of bodily motion (or kinaesthesia) should be regarded as a discrete sensory modality. The Language ofthe Senses offers a fresh and insightful reading of several major writers in the Romantic tradition, and its methodology provides an innovative approach to the critical analysis of poetic imagery. More than just a descriptive inventory of sensory modalities, this book enables the reader to understand how poetic meanings emerge from the specific deployment of 'sensory ratios.' McSweeney delves into many other aspects of poetic imagery that cannot be adequately summarized here; his discussion of synaesthesia is particularly thoughtful and informative. By bringing an important, yet tacit aspect of the reader's comprehension of Romantic poetry more fully into conscious awareness, this book represents a genuine advance in our knowledge of poetic form. (JAMES c. MCKUSICK) Tilottama Rajan and Julia M. Wright, editors. Romanticism, History, and the Possibilities ofGenre: Reforming Literature 1789-1837 Cambridge University Press. xiv, 296. us $59.95 The essays collected in Romanticism, History, and the Possibilities ofGenre are a welcome sign of a renewed interest in the complex interaction of literature; history, and ideology during the Romantic period. This superb collection of essays significantly advances both the theory and practice of genre criticism. Instead of treating genres as relatively fixed and unchanging , a mode of analysis that has produced a correspondingly flattened conception of both literary and ideological statements, these essays treat genre as a privileged site for the constantly shifting negotiation between authors, literary canons, and the public sphere. A more dynamic and complex model of literary activity emerges from these analyses, one that expresses in concrete terms the creative ways in which writers seek to use genre for their own purposes, to critique ideologies and transform cultural values. 244 LETTERS IN CANADA 1998 The collection is divided into three sections, the first dealing with the relationship between genre, history and the public sphere. In IOn History and Romance/ Jon Klancher analyses the importance of 'contingency' in Godwin's turn from political theory in 1793 to cultural criticism and narrative theory five years later. Gary Handwerk persuasively argues for Godwin's importance as a writer of historical fiction concerned with exploring how deeply historical consciousness and ideological pressures affect the human psyche and the power of subjects to be agents of change in the present. Kevin Gilmartin's important study of radical weekly newspapers suggests the manner in which their formal development expresses 'the linked histories of press restriction, print technology, the economics of publishing, radical rhetoric and organization, and popular reading habits.' Ina Ferris provides a groundbreaking feminist essayon the ways in which Lady Morgan uses the national tale to problematize and transform the public sphere. Operating on the border between the public and the private, the political and the literary, using the author's gender to authorize her participation in the politics of the nation, Morgan's tales produce an unstable, stereoscopic, and elusive concept of Irish history. The second section of the collection deals with the relationship between genre and society. In 'Genres from Life in Wordsworth's Art,' Don Bialostosky suggests a new way of understanding Wordsworth's attempt in Lyrical Ballads to imitate the language of everyday life. Drawing on Bakhtin, he argues that Wordsworth was imitating not only the words, dialect, or style of common people, but...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 243-245
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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.