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BOOK REVIEWS 463 Mauss, the foundational theorist of the gift, never succeeds in writing of it at all. In its treatment of history and presence, however, Blake’s Cifts offers unintentional support to Derrida’s position. In this review, so far I have stressed the parts of the book that seem to me most valuable, those that il­ luminate Blake’s work by reference to the historical context of its produc­ tion and initial circulation. Haggarty’s project, however, is by no means exclusively historicist. Her discussion of Blake’s theory of sacrifice begins by comparing it to concepts found in deconstructive theology; the treat­ ment of inspiration in the previous chapter compares Blake’s treatment of inspiration and work to those of other writers throughout the tradition from Plato on. The gift itself appears in the book not only as an historical or literary event, but also as a theoreme, versions of which it sets alongside one another for comparison. Thus, on the one hand, “Blake’s letters to his patrons . . . signal the affinity of his conception of giving to Mauss’s” (63); but on the other, “the most decisive reason for the incompatibility of Blake’s gift with Derrida’s, in The Gift of Death, is his refusal to counte­ nance the divine donor as wholly other” (174). If such comparisons are possible, can the concept of giving Blake shares with Mauss actually be proper to either? In what historical moment might this concept be realized? When Haggarty writes of the incompatibility of Blake’s gift and Derrida’s, she overlooks the problem of assigning ownership of the gift to which I al­ luded above; she also oversimplifies Derrida’s work, which on a rigorous reading does not refer to the gift but rather cites such references in the writing of others—Kierkegaard and Mauss, for instance. In this smart and original book, then, the problem of specifying the gift as an historical phe­ nomenon or as a concept proper to a particular author has not been wholly solved, and indeed perhaps could not be. Matthew Rowlinson University of Western Ontario Carl Thompson. The Suffering Traveller and the Romantic Imagination. Ox­ ford: Clarendon Press, 2007. Pp. xi+299. $110.00. In his narrative of a voyage to the South Seas with the intrepid but unreli­ able William Dampier, William Funnell promises the reader pleasure at his own expense: “Accounts of the manner how our Attempts miscarried, I hope cannot but be very acceptable to the inquisitive Reader.” In preRomantic voyage narratives the first person singular had to take a back seat to suffering that was not to be considered as a personal experience, rather as an affliction corporately endured and publicly enjoyed. This was what the SiR, 51 (Fall 2012) 464 BOOK KEVIEWS reader was interested in, a reader rather like Lucretius’s spectator of a ship­ wreck who enjoys the contrast between his own security and the distress he sees. Hence John Byron’s apology for thrusting himself forward as the necessary and singular party to all the terrible things he experienced: “The greatest pain I feel in committing the following sheets to the press, arises from an apprehension that many ofmy readers will accuse me of egotism.” When Lord Byron said that his grandfather had bequeathed him “an inher­ itance ofstonns,” they weren’t quite the same sort ofstomrs, for three gen­ erations later they had become definitely egotistic and satisfied what Carl Thompson calls the taste for misadventure. Byron the poet took ship to find in danger and adversity the sensations that reminded him most keenly of his own existence. As a traveler Wordsworth sought experiences of vi­ sionary dreariness whose ample power to chasten and subdue nevertheless induced a reflux of energy that excited and armed his imagination: “The evening storm grew darker in my eye,” he reported. Coleridge walked himself into physical ruin on the fells of Cumberland in pursuit of what he called the “eternal link of energy”—his eyelids and joints swollen, his fingers dislocated, but his soul enlarged. Keats had no trouble labeling this wantoning with tribulation the egotistical sublime. But it was a mode of self-consciousness or self...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2330-118X
Print ISSN
0039-3762
Pages
pp. 463-467
Launched on MUSE
2020-03-19
Open Access
No
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