Majestic Indolence: English Romantic Poetry and the Work of Art

Majestic Indolence: English Romantic Poetry and the Work of Art

by Willard Spiegelman
     
 
Spiegelman examines the theme of indolence-- both positive and negative--as it appears in the canonical work of four Romantic poets. He argues for a renewal of interest in literary formalism, aesthetics, and the pastoral genre. Wordsworth's "wise passiveness," Coleridge's "dejection" and torpor, Shelley's pastoral dolce far niente, and Keats's

Overview

Spiegelman examines the theme of indolence-- both positive and negative--as it appears in the canonical work of four Romantic poets. He argues for a renewal of interest in literary formalism, aesthetics, and the pastoral genre. Wordsworth's "wise passiveness," Coleridge's "dejection" and torpor, Shelley's pastoral dolce far niente, and Keats's "delicious...indolence" are seen as individual manifestations of a common theme. Spiegelman argues that the trope of indolence originated in the religious, philosophical, psychological, and economic discourses from the middle ages to the late eighteenth century. In particular, the years surrounding the French revolution are marked by the rich variety of experiments conducted by these poets on this topic. Countering recent politically/ideologically motivated literary theory, Spiegelman looks, instead, at how the poems work. He argues for aesthetic appreciation and critique, which, he feels, the Romantic pastoral begs for in its celebration of nature and the sublime. The book concludes with Spiegelman following the Romantic legacy and its transformation into America (in the form of Whitman), and, further, into the twentieth century (in Frost's poems).

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Spiegelman's perceptive study...is a nice mix of old and new literary techniques."—Virginia Quarterly Review

"The author's challenging and insightful readings of these poets incorporate social contexts to supplement the aesthetic analysis of the poets' language."—Choice

"Spiegelman writes learnedly and gracefully, and wandering through his book will expand thought."—The Sewanee Review

"All is performed with exemplary care. The opening historical survey is well researched; the notes scrupulously pinpoint affiliations and respectfully articulate disagreements with other critics; the writing is clear and expeditious...the many details struck me as fresh and accurate. Spiegelman is a fine and sober stylistician, if not a hugely imaginative one. I came away from it greatly admiring his steady, conscientious professionalism"—Modern Philology

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195357592
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
06/15/1995
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
408 KB

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