Romantic Interactions: Social Being and the Turns of Literary Action

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In Romantic Interactions Susan J. Wolfson examines how interaction with other authors — whether on the bookshelf, in the embodied company of someone else writing, or in relation to literary celebrity — shaped the work of some of the best-known (and less well-known) writers in the English language.

Working across the arc of Long Romanticism, from the 1780s to the 1840s, this lively study involves writing by women and men, in poetry and prose. Combining careful readings with ...

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Romantic Interactions: Social Being and the Turns of Literary Action

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Overview

In Romantic Interactions Susan J. Wolfson examines how interaction with other authors — whether on the bookshelf, in the embodied company of someone else writing, or in relation to literary celebrity — shaped the work of some of the best-known (and less well-known) writers in the English language.

Working across the arc of Long Romanticism, from the 1780s to the 1840s, this lively study involves writing by women and men, in poetry and prose. Combining careful readings with sophisticated literary, historical, and cultural criticism, Wolfson reveals how various writers came to define themselves as "author." The story unfolds not only in deft textual analyses but also by provocatively placing writers in dialogue with what they were reading, with one another, and with the community of readers (and writers) their writings helped bring into being: Mary Wollstonecraft and Charlotte Smith in the Revolution-roiled 1790s; William Wordsworth and Dorothy Wordsworth in the society of the Lake District; Lord Byron, a magnet for writers everywhere, inspired, troubled, but always arrested by what he (and his scandal-ridden celebrity) represented.

This fresh, informative account of key writers, important texts, and complex cultural currents promises keen interest for students and scholars, literary critics, and cultural historians.

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Editorial Reviews

Studies in English Literature
A study of authors reading authors. It is, as Wolfson argues, a 'work of historicizing criticism'... Magnificent readings of texts familiar and unfamiliar.

— Devoney Looser

New Books on Literature 19
Susan Wolfson is not afraid to profess the study of literature. Her impressive body of work has reasserted the claims of close reading and formal literary values in the face (or the wake) of New Historical and other forms of social, materialist criticism which have tended to reduce poetic texts to the socio-political arguments that can be based on—or against—them. Yet she does this not in simple reaction to what has become a very prevailing trend in the field of Romantic criticism, but with a keen alertness to the moral issues raised in Romantic poetry, especially when they involve the status of women, and particularly women writers, then and now. The present book takes a further step in this direction by investigating poetic language and feminist issues, including the possibly 'feminine' valences of poetry itself. Its procedure is highly intertextual, reading texts back and forth, for and against, each other.
Choice

Wolfson employs historicizing criticism to study the relationship between Romantic authors' subjective agency and social connections.

J. Modern Language Quarterly
In all, Romantic Interactions is a formidable book that creates and traverses an extensive and exciting critical terrain... Readers will be energized by Wolfson's fresh take on major Romantic figures, as well as by her innovative paradigm for reading authorial self-consciousness.

— Jacqueline George

Studies in Romanticism
Exemplary.

— Charles J. Rzepka

Studies in English Literature - Devoney Looser
A study of authors reading authors. It is, as Wolfson argues, a 'work of historicizing criticism'... Magnificent readings of texts familiar and unfamiliar.
Modern Language Quarterly - Jacqueline George
In all, Romantic Interactions is a formidable book that creates and traverses an extensive and exciting critical terrain... Readers will be energized by Wolfson's fresh take on major Romantic figures, as well as by her innovative paradigm for reading authorial self-consciousness.
Studies in Romanticism - Charles J. Rzepka
Exemplary.
Modern Philology - David Sigler
Romantic Interactions is the work of a scholar with rare ability as a close reader, extraordinary depth of knowledge, firm feminist commitments, and access to a deep archive of primary documents... A work of deep learning, Romantic Interactions deserves the wide readership and careful attention that it is certain to receive.
Choice
Wolfson employs historicizing criticism to study the relationship between Romantic authors' subjective agency and social connections.
BARS Bulletin and Review - Catherine Redford
One of the real strengths of this book is Wolfson's talent for close reading, which often demonstrates remarkable sensitivity and is frequently highly illuminating... Often striking, always convincing, and at times ground-breaking, Romantic Interactions is a significant contribution to contemporary Romantic studies.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801894732
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 9/17/2010
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan J. Wolfson is a professor of English at Princeton University and author of many essays on and editions of Romantic-era writers. Her books include The Questioning Presence; Formal Charges: The Shaping of Poetry in British Romanticism; and, most recently, Borderlines: The Shiftings of Gender in British Romanticism.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Acknowledgments xi

List of Abbreviations xiii

Note on Texts xv

Introduction. "The will of a social being" 1

I Two Women & Poetic Tradition

1 Charlotte Smith's Emigrants and the Politics of Allusion 17

Epic Interactions in a Crisis of Sympathy

"tho not on politics on a very popular & interesting subject"

Classing The Emigrants

Gendering War

2 Mary Wollstonecraft Re: Reading the Poets 60

What Poetry Makes Happen

All About Eve; or, the Genesis of Feminist Literary Criticism

Wollstonecrafting Poetry

3 The Poets' "Wollstonecraft" 91

II Gender Interactions, Generative Interactions: Two Wordsworths

4 Lyrical Ballads and the Pregnant Words of Men's Passions 113

Engendering Passion

The Gender of "The Poet"

The Gender of Passion

A Man Speaking

Female Naming

5 William's Sister: Alternatives of Alter Ego 152

The "mission with which she was charged"

Wild Girls, Wild Boys

William's "I" and Dorothy's "very words"

6 Dorothy's Conversation with William 179

What Makes "a Poet"?

The Poetry That Dorothy Makes

Dorothy Wordsworth's Shadow-Narrative

III a public attraction

7 Gazing on "Byron": Separation and Fascination 211

An Intense Curiosity

The Separation

Fare thee well!

"Byron" & Byron

Byron by Parody

The Last and Lasting Byron

8 Byron and the Muse of Female Poetry 253

She-musing on Byron

The First Female Byron

Marrying Byron

Chosen Ears

Signing on to Byron

Notes 291

Works Cited 337

Index 369

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