The Poetics of Sensibility: A Revolution in Literary Style

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Jerome McGann's exciting new work represents a major intervention in Eighteenth-century and Romantic studies. It takes as its prime aim the reading of neglected poetry, principally by women, which qualifies as either poetry of 'sensibility' or poetry of 'sentiment', terms which comprised the revolution in poetic style of the eighteenth century. Later reactions against these new technical and imaginative resources produced a state of cultural amnesia which The Poetics of Sensibility moves to correct. McGann's polemical study is an ambitious effort to begin reconstructing the order of our cultural inheritance. Its aesthetic focus sets it apart from virtually every other work of this kind. The book represents both of the major poetical movements of the past two centuries - romanticism and modernism - as cultural reactions against the procedures of sensibility and sentimentality. Romanticism is seen as an effort to curb or modify what were taken to be the more dangerous tendencies of the sentimental revolution. Modernism's anathema against sentimental styles, on the other hand, framed its argument on behalf of a set of (broadly classical and formalist) literary conventions. The Poetics of Sensibility examines the attitudes and procedures followed by various poets who were developing other, novel resources of poetical language made possible by the Lockean revolution. The range of discussion is extensive, but special emphasis is placed on the formative period of c.1730-1830.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"McGann's book addresses a genuine need....His intelligent enthusiasm for this subject is infectious."--Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198184782
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 10/15/1998
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 232
  • Lexile: 1280L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 5.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Pt. I Roads of Excess 11
1 A Disordering of the Senses 13
2 Coleridge's 'Eolian Harp' and the Motion of Thought 19
3 Thomas Gray's 'Thoughts, that breathe, and words, that burn' 24
4 Ossian as a Poetry of Knowledge 33
Pt. II 'Sensate Hearts': The Poetry of Sensibility 41
5 Learning by Doing: The Example of 'The Amorous Lady' 43
6 Frances Greville's 'A Prayer for Indifference' 50
7 Ann Yearsley's 'Remonstrance in the Platonic Shade, Flourishing on an Height' 55
8 Motherhood and the Self Unknown 65
9 The Literal World of the English Della Cruscans 74
10 Mary Robinson and the Myth of Sappho 94
Pt. III The 'Feeling Mind' of Sentimental Poetry 117
11 Sentimental Grounds: Schiller, Wordsworth, Bernardin, Shelley, Keats 119
12 Enlightened Minds: Sir William Jones and Erasmus Darwin 127
13 Sentimentalism as Consumption and Exchange 136
14 Waking from Adam's Dream: L.E.L.'s Art of Disillusion 143
15 The Loss of Sentimental Poetry 150
16 Literary History, Romanticism, and Felicia Hemans: A Conversation between A. Mack, J. J. Rome, and G. Mannejc 174
Conclusion: Starting from Death: The Poetry of Ann Batten Cristall 195
Bibliography 207
Index 215
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