Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Daniel P. Watkins, Sexual Power in British Romantic Poetry

Daniel P. Watkins, Sexual Power in British Romantic Poetry. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1996. vxii + 157 pp. $34.95 (Hdbk; ISBN: 0-8130-1438-7).

Reviewed by
Samuel Lyndon Gladden
Texas A&M University

Daniel P. Watkins's study of works by three major Romantic writers—Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Keats—examines the place of sexual roles and gendered struggles for power within a social and political landscape marked by profound economic change. Specifically, Watkins investigates the shift from an aristocratic, feudal economy to an emerging capitalism, and he points to gendered subjectivity as the primary experiential space through which anxieties over that shift were mediated. Posing the model of "sadeian logic" as the template for making sense of both social and interpersonal relations, Watkins reads a number of well-known Romantic works through the lenses of gender, class, and power finally to conclude that while the idealistic tendency of Romanticism remains compromised by the masculinist biases of its day, a feminist materialist investigation of the history and historicity of that dilemma—the very sort of project in which Watkins' study participates—offers Romanticism its only way out of the convoluted patriarchalism that structured social, economic, and interpersonal relationships in the early nineteenth century.

Edoardo Zuccato, Coleridge in Italy

Edoardo Zuccato, Coleridge in Italy. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996. xix + 256pp. $55.00 (Hdbk; ISBN: 0-312-16572-2).

Reviewed by
Morton D. Paley
University of California, Berkeley

This erudite and valuable study should really have been called Coleridge and Italy, for it does not attempt to re-chronicle Coleridge's time south of the Alps but instead breaks new ground in studying Coleridge's intellectual relation to Italian poetry, art, philology, and philosophy. Contesting the view that among foreign cultures Germany alone was significant for Coleridge, Zuccato shows that Italy ran a surprisingly strong second when all the aspects of its importance to him are considered. He argues that while Byron and Shelley reversed the values of the British view of Italy, they did so within the traditional binary system, with the "pagan" South now positively valorized. Coleridge's Italy, in contrast, was "Christian, Platonic, sublime." The subject matter itself is divided into "internal" and "external" history, referring to "the influence Italian culture exerted in Coleridge's intellectual life" and "Coleridge's place in the history of Anglo-Italian literary relationships."


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