New at RC: “Thoughts in Prison” by William Dodd, edited by Charles Rzepka
Romantic Circles is very pleased to announce the publication of William Dodd’s long poem Thoughts in Prison (1777), edited by Charles Rzepka as a Romantic Circles Scholarly Edition. In his introduction to the edition, Professor Rzepka describes its importance:
Thoughts in Prison, in Five Parts, was written by the Reverend William Dodd in 1777, while he was awaiting execution for forgery in his Newgate prison cell. Blandly Miltonic in style, the poem is unique not only among prison writings, but also in the history of English literature: none of the many reflections, stories, essays, ballads, and broadside “Confessions” originating—or purporting to have originated—in a jail cell over the last few hundred years can begin to match it in length (over three thousand lines of blank verse), in the irony of its author’s notoriety (Dodd had been a chaplain to the king), or in the completeness of its erasure from history after a meteoric career in print that began to wane only at the turn of the nineteenth century. It is a document deserving attention from anyone interested in the early movement for prison reform in England, the rise of ‘natural theology,’ the impact of Enlightenment thought on mainstream religion, and, of course, death-row confessions and crime literature in general.An appendix presents manuscript versions of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “This Lime-Tree Bower, my Prison,” by way of suggesting a reliance, at least metaphorically, on this major work of prison literature by Romantic writers.
This edition complete with Introduction and Appendix is available here.