By Scott Hess
Drawing upon historicist and cultural stories techniques to literature, this booklet argues that the Romantic development of the self emerged out of the expansion of business print tradition and the growth and fragmentation of the interpreting public starting in eighteenth-century Britain. Arguing for continuity among eighteenth-century literature and the increase of Romanticism, this groundbreaking ebook lines the impact of latest print industry stipulations at the improvement of the Romantic poetic self.
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Extra resources for Authoring the Self: Self-Representation, Authorship and the Print Market (Literary Criticism and Cultural Theory)
Beattie began life as a rural schoolmaster before rising to prominence as a writer and circulating among the social elite. Wordsworth was effectively disinherited after his father’s death and led a more or less Authoring the self 26 vagabond existence for most of his youth and early adulthood, after he rejected a possible living in the church to pursue the marginal vocation of authorship. Of the five poets in this study, Cowper alone had a well-to-do lineage and started on a prestigious and clearly defined career path, as a barrister, but he went mad, lost his prestigious social post, and retired into country obscurity.
Formal patterns of meaning and rhetorical constructions emerge at the level of the individual poem which would not otherwise be visible at other levels of reading, and the authorial “self” tends to be constructed somewhat differently in different poems. Most of the poems for which I offer extended readings—including The Dunciad; Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot; Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard; The Minstrel; The Task; and The Prelude—first came into their readers’ hands as individual books, in a single material as well as formal unit.
Understood in this broader sense, developments which have been traditionally defined as “Romantic” do not represent a discrete or sudden break, but a gradual development in response to the Authoring the self 24 proliferation of eighteenth-century print culture. Such a position is not narrowly deterministic—I do not claim that it was inevitable that eighteenth-century print culture would produce such responses, and there were obviously many other social and cultural factors involved. Under these complex conjunctions of circumstances, however, literature had to respond in a way that would also be adequate to this changed social and economic context.
Authoring the Self: Self-Representation, Authorship and the Print Market (Literary Criticism and Cultural Theory) by Scott Hess