Tradition and how far writers fit into or diverge from the demands of tradition is one of the most debated issues in literary discussion. Gender, however, is not often part of discussions which depend on such questions at the decisiveness of the Modernist break with the Victorian period or whether Postmodernism makes tradition meaningless. By contrast the very existence of a specifically female tradition is still an urgent subject of debate, and it is clear that many nineteenth-century women writers were troubled in their search for literary foremothers. This autobiographical impetus can be located in the work of each of the poets discussed in Tradition and the Poetics of Self Nineteenth-Century Women’s Poetry: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Caroline Bowles Southey, Emily Dickinson and Christina Rossetti. An exploration of the self, either in the abstract or in a more closely personal sense, appears in a concern with the craft of poetry and the role of the poet, in a teasing out of language as a marker of a personal encounter with the world, in an adventurous play with genre and a rewriting of myth, and in a bold confrontation with received notions of a woman’s place. Adventurousness marks the work of each of these poets and is a central focus of these essays.
Table of Contents
Barbara GARLICK: Introduction1 Virginia BLAIN: “Be these his daughters?” Caroline Bowles Southey, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Disruption in a Patriarchal Poetics of Women’s Autobiography2 Meg TASKER: Aurora Leigh: Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Novel Approach to the Woman Poet3 E. WARWICK SLINN: Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the Problem of Female Agency 4 Debra FRIED: In Daisy’s Lane: Variants and Personification in Emily Dickinson5 Lori LEBOW: Emily Dickinson’s Epistolary Poetics: Text, Lies and Autobiography6 Susan CONLEY: Burying the Medusa: Romantic Bloodlines in Christina Rossetti’s Gothic Epistle7 Sharon BICKLE: A Woman of Women for “A Sonnet of Sonnets”: Exploring Female Subjectivity in Christina Rossetti’s “Monna Innominata”8 C.C. BARFOOT: “Thus only in a dream”: Appetite in Christina Rossetti’s Poetry. 9. Barbara GARLICK: Defacing the Self: Christina Rossetti’s The Face of the Deep as Absolution10 Tomoko TAKAGUCHI: Christina Rossetti in Secrecy: Revising the Poetics of SensibilityNotes on ContributorsIndex