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Alan Richardson and Sonia Hofkosh, eds., Romanticism, Race, and Imperial Culture, 1780–1834

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Alan Richardson and Sonia Hofkosh, eds., Romanticism, Race, and Imperial Culture, 1780–1834 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996). vii + 352pp. illus. $39.95 (Hdbk; ISBN: 0-253-33212-5).

Reviewed by
Debbie Lee
University of Washington

On a balmy afternoon in San Francisco this past December, at the annual gathering of the Wordsworth Circle luncheon, Alan Richardson had the daunting "keynote" task of talking about Romantic scholarship for the new millennium. The very idea of projecting Romanticism into the twenty-first century seems uncannily Blakean, but rather than asking us to talk prophetically about where Romantic studies are headed, and why, Richardson instead suggested that the field has already found exciting new directions of study. One of these, he said, was to undertake a closer reading of Romanticism in its international setting. To this end, he encouraged the unearthing of the vast history scholars have access to in early printed books and manuscripts. In resituating Romanticism at this moment in time, Richardson suggested, scholars might inform theoretical hunches with a genuine historiography, one that embraces all the writers of the period. Many of us left the luncheon with the sense that Romantic studies is in the midst of one of its most vibrant scholarly phases.

As it turns out, Alan Richardson, and his co-editor Sonia Hofkosh, have already brought together a group of scholars who have begun to chart this territory in a 1996 book—a collection of essays entitled Romanticism, Race, and Imperial Culture, 1780–1834. Richardson and Hofkosh want to introduce new voices into the field. But, as they point out, they are merely reinstating the voices that were there in the first place. Lady Morgan's The Missionary, Olaudah Equiano's The Interesting Narrative, and Mungo Park's Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa were all more popular during their own time than the poetry of Wordsworth or Shelley, yet these genres and the movements they represent have been largely ignored in twentieth-century criticism. "This collection," Richardson and Hofkosh say, "aims to demonstrate how inextricably such mainstays of English Romantic tradition as the imagination, the sublime, the self-possessed individual, the notion of Englishness itself, are linked to the material and ideological operation of a burgeoning empire" (8).

The book is divided into three sections. In the first, a group of essays dealing with race, gender, and nationalism, Laura Doyle's "The Racial Sublime" is particularly intriguing. Doyle lists Bishop Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry and Richard Hurd's Letters on Chivalry and Romance among the books that influenced Romantic writers like Wordsworth. This may seem like a historical quibble, but, argues Doyle, it was in these very texts that "the sublime was turned irrevocably into a new path, one that led not only into haunted forests, bloody battles, goblins and ghosts, but also into a new Western imagery of racial origins" (22). This ancient English poetry, in the hands of poets like Wordsworth and politicians like Burke, provided language and images for an "imperial Englishness."

The second section of Romanticism, Race, and Imperial Culture is the one most directly concerned with actual interactions between British writers and "others." One of the essays, for instance, discusses North American Indians; two of them address African travel narratives; and three of them review British writings on India and the Orient. Here, Joseph Lew tells us that Byron was an "imperial misogynist." Lew cites examples from Byron's strange childhood as well as from his Orientalist texts. The way Byron verbally abused "real women," combined with the way he "killed off fictional women," (especially young Oriental women like Leila in The Giaour), seems to point to Byron as a poet who longed for a place "not Christian, not English, and not the present, when unwanted women could be disposed of with relative impunity" (183). In an interesting twist, the very next essay in this section, by Saree Makdisi, insists that it is Shelley, not Byron, who was interested in killing the Orient. Makdisi says that while Byron (in Childe Harold) describes the East as a living, vibrant, community, Shelley (in Alastor) engages in ethnic cleansing. That is, Shelley "maps" the Orient as a dead place—vacant and ready for Western occupation.

The final section of Romanticism, Race, and Imperial Culture, subtitled "Resituating Romanticism," begins with Alan Richardson's own essay, a perceptive reading of Helen Maria Williams's Peru and Walter Savage Landor's Gebir. This section also includes a discussion of women's writing on the slave trade by Anne Mellor, and an insightful look at the Nigerian-born Londoner, Olaudah Equiano, author of The Interesting Narrative, by Sonia Hofkosh. Hofkosh sees The Interesting Narrative as a Romantic document insofar as it is concerned with the construction of individual identity—in this case, Equiano achieves individual freedom from mass slavery. But Equiano's numerous references to economics also demand that we look at his book in the context of capitalism. Hofkosh brilliantly lodges the text in what is perhaps the biggest contradiction of the era: "The institution of slavery, by which one man could be said to own another as private property, fostered the emerging economics of capitalism in specific and measurable ways, both in terms of modes of production and patterns of consumption—of sugar or of cotton textiles, for example. But so too did capitalism as it developed into the dominant economic system in Europe depend on the Enlightenment notion of individualism" (226). Capitalism, paradoxically, operates on the same assumptions as the abolition and emancipation movements: self-ownership and individual identity. Given this, Equiano's text remains a thorny contradiction.

Contradiction, in fact, seems to be the overriding theme of each and every one of the essays in Romanticism, Race, and Imperial Culture. Along with resituating Romanticism in its international and historical setting, it seems, the essayists have a pervasive tendency to judge each Romantic writers' complicity with or resistance against "imperialism." As the writers of this collection see it, the Romantics paved the way for Victorian Imperialism. And Victorian Imperialism, because it dominated, enslaved, and in some cases obliterated other cultures, is decidedly a bad thing. Hence, every essayist in Romanticism, Race, and Imperial Culture categorizes his or her particular Romantic writer as either complicit or (more often) contradictory.

For instance, in the first set of essays, Rajani Sudan reassesses Mary Wollstonecraft's feminism, concluding that it was contradictory in nature. Wollstonecraft may have argued for women's rights, but she did so at the expense of developing a sense of national identity that would be oppressive to other peoples in the same way men were oppressive to women in Wollstonecraft's England. Sudan quotes Wollstonecraft as saying, "if children are to be educated to understand the principle of patriotism, then their mother must be a patriot as well" (79). Similarly, Moira Ferguson reveals the contradictions in Hannah Kilham's work. "Although Kilham establishes acceptable colonial paradigms about Anglo-African relationships, she also undermines these very paradigms," Ferguson writes. In another essay, Anne Mellor finds that women writers had contradictory responses to slavery. They introduced new dimensions into the abolitionist rhetoric of male writers such as Thomas Clarkson, William Cowper, and S. T. Coleridge, creating "a rhetoric of sympathy grounded in celebration and preservation of the domestic affections" (325). But, says Mellor, from our current perspective "abolitionist discourse employed by both male and female writers in the Romantic period only translated one form of slavery, legal slavery, into another form, the 'slavery' of assimilation" (326).

In far fewer cases, the essays in Romanticism, Race, and Imperial Culture see British Romantic writers as complicit—as virtual agents of empire. Wordsworth is particularly suspect. Laura Doyle, for instance, concludes that "[c]learly a nationalist nativism is integral to Wordsworth's sublime poetic, which he eventually builds up into the image of the 'Poet of Imagination'" (31). Similarly, Alison Hickey takes Wordsworth to task. "Some sort of imperialism is implicit" in the Wordsworthian imagination, with its emphasis on "the appropriation or progressive 'fitting' of the external world to the core world of the poetry's maturing self. Imagination," Hickey writes, "is the incorporation of otherness, the forging of unity from difference." The essay seeks to show how Wordsworth's imagination is like imperial practice.

Romanticism, Race, and Imperial Culture's questioning of Romantic writers' role in British imperialism is long overdue. Yet this book, it seems to me, is most helpful as a point to begin an even more sustained study of the period in its international context and with an even more developed historiography; that is, one that allows us to see Romantic writers as ordinary people who shaped their own lives, not simply as ideological robots subject to larger forces; one that enables us to view these cultural and colonial relationships in terms other than guilt and blame, complicity and contradiction.

A more developed historiography—the very kind that Richardson advocated in San Francisco in December—might help us rethink Romanticism's complex relationship to its world. In this regard, Ashton Nichols has the most important essay in the book. His essay on Mungo Park's account of "Romantic Africa" is set against the backdrop of participation in empire, but the essay is too historically grounded to hold Park responsible for what he could not have known. Ashton thus leaves open-ended questions. The last few paragraphs include an encyclopedic list of African travel narratives and a scholarly nudge telling us that there is more work to do.

Such work might begin by considering how Romantic writers saw their position to empires—old and new and yet to come. It might prompt us to look at points of cultural contact, communication, and connection, without the overarching theories of postcolonial studies, since the Romantic writer has no way of predicting the shape of imperialism's rough beast. This is what Malcolm Kelsall thinks. In a more recent collection on this topic (in which Alan Richardson has an excellent essay), entitled Romanticism and Colonialism (Cambridge University Press, 1998), Kelsall writes that it is not logical to read Romantic writer's relationship to imperialism "respectively from the instantaneous present" (245). "For modern, liberal, cultural historians," he writes, "discussion of empire . . . has become involved with the guilt of the post-colonial West," and this "places the liberal in a position of apologetic retreat" (245). But what other methodologies do we have?

The writers of the essays in Romanticism, Race, and Imperial Culture enlist Edward Said with regularity. In a recent video telecast of his lecture on "The Myth of 'The Clash of Civilizations,'" Said wonders "whether we should be taking the more integrative, but perhaps more difficult path, which is to see them as making one vast whole, whose exact contours are impossible for any person to grasp, but whose certain existence we can intuit and feel and study." One vast whole. This is a rather "Romantic" idea, but the Romantic period may be just the place to begin such inquiries as we approach the twenty-first century.

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Diane Long Hoeveler, Gothic Feminism: The Professionalization of Gender from Charlotte Smith to the Brontës

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Diane Long Hoeveler, Gothic Feminism: The Professionalization of Gender from Charlotte Smith to the Brontës (University Park, Penn.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998. 250 pages. $40.00 (Hdbk; ISBN: 0-271-01809-7).

Reviewed by
Deborah Kennedy
Saint Mary's University, Halifax

Dand to criticism in the field. Concentrating on gothic novels written by women, Hoeveler traces patterns within the genre, ranging from the work of Charlotte Smith in the late eighteenth century to that of the Brontës in the nineteenth century, with two chapters on Ann Radcliffe forming the core of the book. Hoeveler's phrase "gothic feminism" might sound like an oxymoron, but she uses it to define the way that women writers created fictional worlds which in some way addressed the problem of their physical and social vulnerability. For Hoeveler, gender and the body become the overriding concerns of these texts. While one may not always agree with her attempt to find one key to unlock all of these novels, Hoeveler is a gifted literary critic. Her work is informed by recent theory, and she conscientiously cites a whole range of articles and books on gothic literature. But Hoeveler always keeps the novels themselves at the center of her discussion. One can see why she was first "entranced" by Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho (xvii), and her detailed and engaging commentary makes one want to read these novels again.

The book begins with an analysis of Charlotte Smith's Emmeline, the Orphan of the Castle, showing how its plot will be mirrored in so many subsequent works that follow the virtuous young heroine as she negotiates the dangers of the patriarchal world. Although Hoeveler attempts to rescue Smith's novel from neglect, this is perhaps the least interesting section of her book. The fault is not with Emmeline: its wonderful characters—Mrs. Stafford, Godolphin, and Emmeline herself—simply deserve a more detailed treatment than they receive here.

Things immediately improve, however, with the following two chapters on Ann Radcliffe. Hoeveler presents readers with an analysis of four major works in the gothic literary tradition: A Sicilian Romance, The Romance of the Forest, The Mysteries of Udolpho, and The Italian. All the remote castles, labyrinths, daggers, and family secrets are subjected to an analysis that demonstrates how the supposedly weak heroine triumphs at the end of each novel. Radcliffe's books were often adapted for the stage, occasionally as operas, and Hoeveler notes that "female gothic novels themselves appear to be set to music" (85), so strongly is their atmosphere rendered. Hoeveler's knowledge of the texts, her command of earlier criticism, and her keen observations make these chapters a valuable contribution to the study of Radcliffe.

The next chapter brings together three works: Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, Charlotte Dacre's Zofloya, and Mary Shelley's Mathilda. Northanger Abbey "was written in large part to exorcise the gothic compulsion from the late eighteenth-century literary landscape" (143), and the happy ending provided for its heroine seems worlds away from the doom facing the characters in Dacre's novel and Shelley's novel. Hoeveler presents a very useful summary of the former. Those who have read Zofloya might be inclined to agree with a reviewer who remarked in 1806 that "the greatest number of the characters are so depraved as to excite no other sentiment but disgust" (quoted in Zofloya, ed. Adriana Craciun [Peterborough: Broadview Press, 1997], 261). The main character, Victoria, described by Hoeveler as a "flamboyantly evil daughter" (144), is in league with the devil, who is disguised as a black servant named Zofloya. Victoria cannot be mistaken for anyone's role model: she is a female version of the licentious male villains in the story, and she fits into Hoeveler's pattern as a "demonic" "antiheroine" (123), who contrasts the good heroines of the other novels.

While Victoria literally embraces evil, the title character in Mary Shelley's Mathilda attempts to flee from it. Despite her own virtue, she feels polluted from having been the object of another's evil desires. Hoeveler's prevailing argument that "gothic feminism seeks to escape the female body" is perhaps best illustrated in the flight and death-wish of Mathilda (182). Hoeveler proposes that a different option can be seen in Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, where the world is made "safe" for a new generation of women (197). The violent Heathcliff is replaced by a more acceptable male hero, just as Rochester is "tamed" in Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, a book aptly described as today's "canonical female gothic text" (203). Sometimes Hoeveler strays off the mark, however, when she tries to force one of the novels into a reductive interpretation that distorts the plot. This happens, for example, when she claims that Jane Eyre "set her sights on Rochester and disposed of and replaced his inconvenient mad wife at the same time" (203). Gothic Feminism is disappointing at just those places where Hoeveler overstates her case.

The study concludes with a chapter on Charlotte Brontë's voyeuristic Villette, a work whose gothic elements have often been remarked upon. Lucy Snowe emerges out of a world of enclosures, haunted by a spectral nun, into a position foreshadowing that of the New Woman. Her fiancé, M. Paul, is a passionate and sensitive man who understands Lucy's need for independence: "he presents Lucy with her own school, an ideal embodiment of both love and work that represents the goal she struggled toward" (239). Hoeveler regards the tragic death of M. Paul as necessary to set Lucy free from "the most gothic of nightmares, the female body" (241). She echoes Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, who noted that it is only in the absence of M. Paul that Lucy Snowe can fully "exercise her own powers" (The Madwoman in the Attic [New Haven: Yale University Press], 1979, 438). Yet Gilbert and Gubar also offered other interpretations, while Hoeveler regards the ending of Villette as a privileging of self-sufficiency over marriage (241). In effect, Hoeveler sees all of these novels as a version of the mind-body conflict, in which the texts reveal the problem of pursuing a life of the mind in a world where women are defined by their bodies. Whatever the limitations of this argument, in the course of making it, Hoeveler provides compelling readings of eleven important gothic novels by women.

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Kevin Gilmartin, Print Politics: The Press and Radical Opposition in Early Nineteenth-Century England.

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Kevin Gilmartin, Print Politics: The Press and Radical Opposition in Early Nineteenth-Century England. Cambridge Studies in Romanticism, no. 21. Cambridge University Press, 1996. xiv + 274pp. $59.95 (Hdbk; ISBN: 0-521-49655-1).

Reviewed by
John Kandl
Walsh University

Kevin Gilmartin's Print Politics: The Press and Radical Opposition in Early Nineteenth-Century England is a timely and useful exploration of the radical press's complex and often contradictory relationship to the print culture of the early nineteenth century. Gilmartin particularly focuses upon the radical movement's "style of political opposition that aimed to replace the distinction between whig and tory with a more ominous one between the people and corrupt government, and to make the press a forum for mobilizing this distinction on behalf of parliamentary reform" (1). In studies of the various political and rhetorical strategies of such radical voices as Wooler, Carlile, Wade, Cobbett and Hunt, Gilmartin explores the "contradictory energies generated by the radical effort to remain engaged with a corrupt system while resisting its influence" (196).

One of the strengths of this study is its conscious participation in the development of a new field of inquiry within Romantic studies, which Anne Janowitz has suggested "we might call plebeian studies" (2). This emphasis is supported in the introductory chapter, and throughout the book, in a critical engagement with an impressive range of recent studies of radical culture such as Iain McCalman's Radical Underworld: Prophets, Revolutionaries and Pornographers in London, 1795–1840 (Cambridge University Press, 1988); Jon Klancher's The Making of English Reading Audiences, 1790–1832 (University of Wisconsin Press, 1987); Michael Scrivener's Poetry and Reform: Periodical Verse from the English Democratic Press, 1792–1824 (Wayne State University Press, 1992); Marcus Wood's Radical Satire and Print Culture, 1790–1822 (Oxford University Press, 1994); Paul Thomas Murphy's Toward a Working-Class Canon: Literary Criticism in British Working-Class Periodicals, 1816–1858 (Ohio State University Press, 1994); and of course the foundational work of Raymond Williams and E.P. Thompson. Among these recent plebeian studies Gilmartin particularly emphasizes John Mee's Dangerous Enthusiasm: William Blake and the Culture of Radicalism in the 1790's (Oxford University Press, 1992); Leonora Nattrass's William Cobbett: The Politics of Style (Cambridge University Press, 1995); and David Worrall's Radical Culture: Discourse, Resistance, and Surveillance, 1790-1820 (Wayne State University Press, 1992), "because they have described specific discourse strategies in plebeian radical culture that open it up to sophisticated literary-historical analysis" (2).

Chapter one addresses the cultural displacement of the radical writer and the radical press, seeing this in light of the radical press's refusal of the two-party system of Whig and Tory, reframing the debate as between a disenfranchised populace and a corrupt government. From here Gilmartin examines the complex relationship of the radical writer and his audience, especially noting the economic basis of political power, particularly ownership of property, which forced the radical writer into a substitution of language for power—a situation "fraught with tension and contradiction" (53). Gilmartin traces this tension in the arenas of public meetings and trials of radicals, as well as in the radical press's engagement with its own place in the public sphere, a place in which political discourse was often necessarily shaped by economic and production concerns.

Chapter two examines the sheer diversity of radical formal strategies in print. The radical weeklies "assimilated an impressive range of heterogeneous material: foreign and domestic news, market prices, reprints from books and pamphlets, transcriptions of radical meetings or trials, reports of parliamentary debates . . . and so on" (78). Most impressive here is Gilmartin's treatment of newspaper parody and "cross readings" as practiced by Wooler's Black Dwarf; Gilmartin usefully underscores the significance of such misleadingly humorous and "playful" formal engagements with the printed page, pointing out that "it is important to see that the struggle between print protest and state repression had long been played out at the level of form" (97). Finally, Gilmartin suggests that the very range of stylistic modes and materials presented by the radical periodical can be seen to counteract tendencies toward specialization of labor: "In a world suspended between modernization and corruption, the radical synthesis of discrete print materials and modes was a powerfully utopian project" (111).

Chapter three examines ways in which the trials of radicals such as Wooler, Hone, Hunt, and Cobbett ironically became powerful theatrical forums for radical discourse. The chapter is particularly strong in pointing up the ways in which the radical press made public the corrupt proceedings of the trials by printing disallowed testimonies for the defense, describing the packing of juries, and publicly decrying the unjust libel laws. Gilmartin points out the insistence upon "fact" in radical defense, and notes, with Klancher, Paine's identification of "'the surplus of power with the surplus of signs'" (148). Gilmartin links this radical insistence upon "fact" over "sign" to the prophetic dimension of radical discourse, pointing to a rhetorical equation of radical reform and revelation of divine truth. The relation of religious dissent and radical politics which emerges here is significant, though not explored in detail.

Chapters four, five, and the "Afterword" offer discussions of Cobbett, Hunt, and Hazlitt, respectively. The discussion of Cobbett, mainly in his capacity as editor of the radical flagship The Political Examiner, is most useful in its insistence that Cobbett's "work needs to be understood as a serious and systematic response to an increasingly systematic world" (159). In answer to those who have over-simplified Cobbett's radicalism, Gilmartin emphasizes Cobbett's awareness of a complex of "systems" of domination and his propensity for conceiving counter-systems in opposition. (The chapter offers a usefully comprehensive list of "systems" Cobbett had identified in the Political Register.) Insightfully, Gilmartin compares the material-political counter-systems of Cobbett with the systematized "mental categories" of William Blake: "Where a Blake dictionary has entries under Golgonooza, Luvah, and Reason, a Cobbett dictionary, were one to be compiled (and it would be no less useful), would have entries under Pitt, Canning, paper money, potatoes, and turnpikes" (159). While Blake, however, "did not envision an end to dialectical strife, Cobbett, by contrast, did seek to get beyond system and political dispute, in order to recover for himself and the nation a rural and domestic repose" (159). True to the study's focus upon discursive strategies and language, the chapter briefly examines Cobbett's attention to grammar as system—making good use of an unpublished paper by Peter Manning on Cobbett's Grammar of the English Language (1818), a book intended as a grammar-primer for schoolboys, but which was subtly informed by Cobbett's politics. Manning notes that Cobbett's linguistic theories were "grounded in a 'simple intentionalism' that encouraged readers, writers, and speakers to seize control of their words" (169). Following this, considering Cobbett's prose, Gilmartin notes a dynamic relationship between "situations outside language . . . and language about those situations" (177). The treatment of Cobbett's Rural Rides in this chapter indicates clearly the kind of "rural and domestic repose" Cobbett may have aimed for—but never settled for: "Cobbett inevitably rose from his fireplace and returned to circulation and to opposition" (194). Throughout this significant chapter, Gilmartin convincingly counters readings of Cobbett as "unstructured" and "impressionistic"—and Cobbett emerges, with all his contradictory energies, as something of a paradigmatic force within radical print politics of the age.

While Cobbett, however, can usefully stand as an exemplar of the radical press, the placement of Leigh Hunt in this declared "plebeian" study is less convincing. Gilmartin aptly traces a progression in Hunt from radical writer to Hunt's self-declared "new position" as an early Victorian "ministerialist," but the problem here is in considering Hunt a radical on the order of Cobbett or Wooler in the first place. Throughout the study Gilmartin has departed usefully from Jürgen Habermas's distinction of the liberal from the radical public sphere—equating (with historical evidence) the words "liberal" and "radical." But Habermas' distinction can be preserved in the treatment of Hunt and Hazlitt. Both are reformers, but neither can be firmly linked to the plebeian, radical reform movement. In fact they both, at times, seem distrustful of this movement. As Gilmartin points out, considering Hazlitt's anxiety over questions of "legitimacy" and merit, his prose is remarkable for "the way an anxiety about merit was channelled from politics into culture" (229). It may be more useful to follow up on this insight and to consider Hunt and Hazlitt within another register of print reform—a register which addresses the dominant or official culture not in a polarized confrontation, but in a more insidious way—in the "polite" vocabulary of "educated" discourse on aesthetic, religious, moral, and political matters, all the while intentionally presenting a value system directly counter to that of the dominant sphere. This is a reform of the vocabulary of public discourse itself, and a challenge to the various ways in which "official" authority is represented and legitimized culturally. While Hunt and Hazlitt do not serve the more overtly "plebeian" emphases of the book, which are less problematically represented in the thorough treatments of Carlile, Wooler, Wade, and Cobbett, however, the analysis of Hunt and Hazlitt in the context of this study is welcome indeed—and Gilmartin is especially persuasive in his treatments of their class-anxieties and ways their politics informs their prose. The subtitle of the "Afterword"—"William Hazlitt – a radical critique of radical opposition?"—emphasizes a significant question concerning both of these figures.

One final, editorial consideration: in a book which is so well-researched and which so usefully furthers an important new field of inquiry, the lack of a bibliography is regrettable, but perhaps understandable in light of practical exigencies of academic publishing these days. At any rate, Gilmartin makes up for this with a detailed commentary on pertinent works in his introductory chapter. Bibliography or no, this is a profoundly important plebeian study which will prove indispensable to scholars and historians of the period, and of print culture in general.

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Robin Jarvis, Romantic Writing and Pedestrian Travel.

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Robin Jarvis, Romantic Writing and Pedestrian Travel. London: Macmillan, 1997. x + 246pp. $59.95 (Hdbk; ISBN: 0-333-65814-0).

Reviewed by
Anne D. Wallace
University of Southern Mississippi

In this contribution to the ongoing critical discussion of mobility and literature in the modern world, Robin Jarvis significantly refines our understanding of the material histories of walking and these histories' conjunctions with literature in Britain during the crucial period from the 1780s to the 1820s. Many of his most important claims concern "pedestrian travel," the long-distance touring he characterizes as "fluid, improvised, open-ended walking" (90). But he also surveys the varieties of motivations, forms and expressions of walking during the period so that, rather than advancing one master thesis, Jarvis collects related observations of

the ways in which intellectual processes and textual effects are grounded in the material practice of walking. . . . This is not to imply some organic oneness of sense and expression in peripatetic literature, but to insist that in the displacement from physical experience to the order of imagined reality and literary representation the rhythms and modalities of walking remain a visibly determining influence. (33)

Without being reductive, I think it is safe to say that Jarvis attributes what he later calls "the potential of the genetic link between walking and writing" (91), in the specific case of pedestrian travel, to what he identifies as the freely directed, irregular, underdetermined physical qualities of such movement. These qualities, which Jarvis posits as inhering in the materialities of pedestrianism itself, mean that such travel can embody resistance to cultural categories from the personal to the aesthetic to the political, and at levels ranging from the oppositional to a suspension of resolution resembling Keats's "negative capability." Jarvis also argues that these free, resistant material and psychological conditions of pedestrian travel can be traced in the formal and thematic textual effects of writers who were themselves pedestrian travelers (or whose walking, for some reason, approached that specific modality). Like several recent critics—although no work of this kind had been published when he began his inquiry—Jarvis locates the release of pedestrianism's positive textual potential in the Romantic period, agreeing with Leslie Stephen's classic claim that "'the literary movement at the end of the eighteenth century was . . . due in great part, if not mainly, to the renewed practice of walking.1

At this point, I feel I should call attention to my position as an unusually interested reader. I am one of three critics (the others are Roger Gilbert and Jeffrey Robinson) whom Jarvis identifies as having "initiated the scholarly debate" about walking and literature, all of whose work he engages throughout his study (ix). Any reader of Romantic Writing and Pedestrian Travel will quickly understand why I take this uncustomary precaution: in the first two chapters, Jarvis so thoroughly confronts my readings of peripatetic and its origins that the usual polite elision of a reviewer's voice would be disingenuous here. As you will see, I have serious reservations about Jarvis's return to phenomenological accounts of how walking in literature means, because I think such accounts—a staple of peripatetic itself—work to obscure the very historical processes Jarvis and I have both attempted to trace. But in many respects this book is just the sort of study I hoped our earlier wave of work would provoke, challenging and nuancing our formulations in fruitful ways.

Jarvis's most persuasive argument, in my view, is that a "first generation" of pedestrian tourists during the 1780s and '90s, a generation heavily though not exclusively drawn from middle-class intellectuals, countered the "deeply-sedimented history of associating walking with indigence, necessity and fate, and in later centuries with the illicit freedom of the road and the deterrent force of the still-active vagrancy laws" by choosing to tour on foot (23–24). As Jarvis formulates it, "their walking was a radical assertion of autonomy" undertaken because "they were intent upon clearing their own ideological space" outside of the various contexts of "their upbringing and education, . . . parental expectations and class etiquette, . . . a hierarchical and segregated society. . . . [and] a culturally defined and circumscribed self" (28). This first generation's subjective intention toward autonomous selfhood originates pedestrian touring as a "distinctive subculture" even at this early date (17), and characteristically infuses later peripatetic literature (a term Jarvis broadly uses, if I understand him, to mean literature arising from the practice of walking).

Jarvis foregrounds the intentional, confrontational character of pedestrian touring in the 1780 and '90s as a corrective to what he at one point calls the "crudely materialist calculus" which seems to him the consequence of my own arguments about the role of the transport revolution in enabling positive practice and perceptions of walking (22). In particular, he argues that real improvement in speed and ease of travel could not have had a decisive effect until the 1820s or '30s, so that while the transport revolution might have fueled the establishment of mainstream pedestrianism in the late Romantic period, it cannot account for this first generation's revolutionary practices. In part our different readings are precisely that: different interpretations of the same historical evidence, at least so far as the transport revolution goes, in which I foreground the gradually gathering force of changes in transport and Jarvis notes the slowness of those changes. Despite his general discounting of improved ease of travel, in fact, Jarvis cites the improvement of main roads as a mechanism of political consolidation and control—the repressive implications of improved transport—as a potential motivating factor in the early pedestrians' characteristic "decision to exploit [their] freedom to resist the imperative of destination" by walking at large or following fieldpaths and lanes instead (30). In my own defense, too, I would note that I do not attribute the shifting attitudes toward walkers solely to the transport revolution but to a mutually amplifying field of changes in transport, agriculture, topography (specifically enclosure), landscape viewing and literary representation—changes in all these areas being observable to greater or lesser extents from 1750 or earlier, as Jarvis also demonstrates at length in his analysis of eighteenth-century literary shifts toward a pedestrian aesthetic.

But despite my different sense of these histories, I think Jarvis's repopulation of the 1780s and '90s with deliberate walkers, and his recognition that these early pedestrian tourists must necessarily "have been confronting the still dominant prejudicial assumptions about walking" (19), develop an important distinction within the longer period of attitudinal and practical changes that "ended" with the hardening of literary and popular ideologies of walking from the 1820s on. Such a distinction implies—as Jarvis's following discussions may be intended to demonstrate, though he does not say so—other potential distinctions in the period—differences, perhaps, between the "early" pedestrian tourist William Wordsworth Jarvis emphasizes and the "mature" (Jarvis's term) excursive Wordsworthian walker on whom I focused, all of which might simultaneously contribute to changing notions of walking.

Jarvis advances this argument in his first chapter, following it up in the second with an account of the "loose assembly of motives and desires constituting [the] historical figure" of the pedestrian traveler as that figure develops in his first generation (33). Considering in turn the radical walker, the pilgrim, the philosophical walker, and the aesthetic walker, he closes his "anatomy" of the pedestrian traveler with a brief consideration of "pedestrianism and the picturesque" which carries over into his third chapter, "Pedestrianism and Peripatetic Form." Jarvis's contention that the picturesque preference for irregularity, and its advocacy of the free rearrangement of landscape elements, mark important congruities between picturesque and pedestrian touring was, for me, most edifying. I cannot follow Jarvis so far as to find picturesque only or even predominantly consonant with pedestrian aesthetics, because I remain convinced that the picturesque preference for fixed views—freely arranged or not—is quite different than the contiguous, moving views I think are characteristic of the (literary) pedestrian aesthetic. Jarvis himself cites "Coleridge's habit of referring to viewpoints as 'Resting Places' in place of the customary picturesque term 'station,'" as evidence of a "freedom from picturesque conformity stem[ming] from a physical immersion in the landscape that can arise only from walking through it" (131). But Jarvis's analysis fruitfully recomplicates the relationship between picturesque and pedestrian aesthetics, suggesting our discussions of these tensions are by no means exhausted.

It is in his third chapter that Jarvis fully develops the second, phenomenological strand of his argument. Moving from his discussion of picturesque aesthetics toward his readings of individual writers in later chapters, he prepares to discuss how such writers "give purposeful expression to the ways in which pedestrian motion can condition or mediate thought and perception" by "establish[ing] some of the distinguishing features of walking . . . specifically as a way of experiencing landscape or as a form of consciousness-in-motion." Such distinguishing features, Jarvis claims, "should be readily recognized by anyone who has done any long-distance or endurance walking"—that is, they inhere in such walking itself and are always/everywhere available for use. Without rehearsing his entire inventory, I'll extract some samples of the celebratory language Jarvis uses in describing these inherent experiential features, language which (in very familiar terms) constructs walking as a superior perceptual mode. A walker is "in constant sensuous contact with the environment" and is "entirely responsible via voluntary movements of the limbs for what s/he perceives of the natural surroundings"; because of their "moderate, steady pace," walkers move "in a broader, more finely-grained perceptual envelope that provides complete freedom" to stop, look back, and otherwise select perspective; because of the "regular, alternating rhythm" of stepping on and on in a long journey, they enjoy "enhanced mental excitation . . . because walking has a remarkable ability to purge the mind of its habitual, everyday clutter"; and so forth (67–68).

Jarvis then traces what he regards as the characteristics of "peripatetic form"—which include such things as the "'free association' or recombination" of actual experience evident in the development of William Wordsworth's "Salisbury Plain" poems (119), and the Romantics' preference for "the intuitive correspondent form of peripatetic," blank verse (109)—directly to this phenomenology of pedestrian travel. Despite his conscientious returns to phrases such as "speculative" and "often highly mediated" as he describes the relationship between walking and writing, Jarvis develops the particular relationships his phenomenological argument clearly privileges: "the range of means . . . by which walking generates writing" (89). That is, Jarvis's account of the "genetic" relationship between the two locates the origin of walking's positive interpretations in the actual experience of walking itself.

My problems with this argument, though manifold in detail, can be summed up as its (dis)juncture with Jarvis's other, historicist argument. If Romantic and post-Romantic peripatetic is generated by qualities inherent to pedestrian touring, then these qualities cannot be the motivating force in the historical sea-change Jarvis and I (and Roger Gilbert, and Jeffrey Robinson, and Celeste Langan) have differently described. If, as Jarvis reiterates in his reading of William Wordsworth, "anyone who has participated in the activity will recognise the salient (positive) perceptual experience which finds expression in peripatetic literature (120), then why didn't Samuel Johnson? Thomas Coryate? William Shakespeare, for that matter (assuming he really did spend that time touring the countryside)? It should not require some critical mass of mutual experience to discover such virtues, if the virtues directly and unmistakably result from the physiological and psychological nature of walking. Even if such positive perceptual advantages have always been objectively present, just waiting to be discovered when conditions finally became more favorable to our subjective recognition of them (a possible progressivist history), it remains the case that some other thing(s) about and around pedestrian touring must have changed to create such favorable conditions.

Early on, as I indicated, Jarvis advances the subject's search for self, with its corresponding desire for autonomy and resistance to cultural categories, as such another motive force. But this explanation, though entirely sensible in its general form, begs other questions—such as how and why "self" begins to function as it does during modernity. To make this stick as a historical explanation, in which the intention toward autonomous selfhood triggers or develops coevally with the first wave of pedestrian touring, Jarvis has to historicize modern subjectivity, rather than merely appeal to it as an understood (natural) feature of human experience.

I want to make it clear that I do not reject phenomenological arguments out of hand, indulging in an "inconsolable dualism of mind and body," as Jarvis worries (120). I, too, posit that the physical experience of walking has some nearly irreducible forms which it lends to the positive interpretations constructed by Romanticism—sequentiality (a property Jarvis gives full and interesting attention), contiguity, naturalness (for most humans, though not all). But to go beyond such stripped down descriptions (and even these carry some evaluative sense) is to enter the realm of interpretation of material phenomena—and the whole problem is just how interpretations of walking became predominantly positive. As it stands, Jarvis's argument primarily repeats the dehistoricizing argument of peripatetic itself: Leslie Stephen's argument (Jarvis's acknowledged starting point) that walking produces (Romantic) writing, or the implicit and explicit arguments of the Wordsworths that walking constitutes composition, arguments in which walking itself naturally contains the positive interpretative and expressive possibilities attributed to it in texts about walking. In my view, these arguments are what "disappeared" walking from literary critical view in the first place. To renovate them now seems—to me—counterproductive if our aim is to take some historical view of the subject.

Nonetheless, Jarvis's readings of individual authors in the following chapters are extremely interesting in their own terms. Though his choice of authors is not surprising—William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Dorothy Wordsworth, John Clare, William Hazlitt and John Keats—he occasionally supplements these with others farther from the usual frame—Sarah Hazlitt, for instance—and often chooses less-studied texts, such as William's "Evening Walk" and "Descriptive Sketches" and Dorothy's travel journals, for his main readings. I was sorry to see Dorothy's Alfdoxden and Grasmere journals treated, once again, as a simple record of everyday life, in which "walking is more a given of existence than a conscious aesthetic choice" (162)—not a judgement that sorts well with the gorgeously worked Alfoxden entries for January 1798, for instance. Nor can I understand how Jarvis can praise William's poetry for its sustained, unresolved expression of "two poles of a complex sensibility . . . the itinerant and the settled, the vagrant and the domestic, the free and the bounded" (124), and then characterize Dorothy's "powerfully ambivalent yearnings towards both mobility and emplacement" as "fundamental contradictions in the writer's mental and emotional life," so that her domestication of exotic space somehow limits rather than expands her liberty (170). But his sustained analysis of the process of domestication in the travel journals is very helpful.

Another edifying expansion of our sense of walking in Romantic literature is Jarvis's discussion of Keats' epistolary account of his summer 1818 pedestrian tour to the Lakes and the Scottish Highlands. Drawing on Jeffrey N. Cox's account of the Cockney School, Jarvis argues that "Keats's travel writing might be taken to depict an urbanising excursion into the wilder parts of the country, an ironic counterpart to the 'ruralizing imagination' at work in much literature of the city" (206). Jarvis's following account of urban literary walking in John Gay, Thomas De Quincey, Leigh Hunt, Walter Benjamin, and Charles Baudelaire suggests the wealth of work yet to be done with these quite distinct histories of walking.

New work on literature's relationship to modern practices and ideas of mobility, travel, and walking is now appearing regularly, with no sign that we are near the end of our rethinking of these apparently timely subjects. Robin Jarvis joins this effort with a thoughtful, provocative study which also contributes to Romantic studies at large.

1 Leslie Stephen, In Praise of Walking [no citation], quoted in Jarvis, ix.

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Richard E. Matlak, The Poetry of Relationship: The Wordsworths and Coleridge, 1797–1800

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Richard E. Matlak, The Poetry of Relationship: The Wordsworths and Coleridge, 1797–1800. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997. x + 246pp. $39.95 (Hdbk; ISBN 0-312-10166-X).

Reviewed by
Jill Heydt-Stevenson
University of Colorado at Boulder

In The Poetry of Relationship, Richard Matlak invites us to rethink the relationships between and among the Wordsworths—William and Dorothy—and Coleridge. This, of course, is familiar, though ever-fascinating ground to explore, and Matlak's discoveries, elicited through a psychobiographical approach that relies on Freud and what Matlak calls a "forensic" rhetoric, are often fresh and engaging. It would be impossible to recapitulate in this review the numerous absorbing interpretations he offers, based as they are on densely interwoven close analyses that should illuminate, for both scholar and student alike, many intertextual and interpersonal complexities that stimulated the creation of Wordsworth's and Coleridge's early poetry. In light of this, then, I will have to choose a very few of these arguments and abbreviate them considerably.

In Part One, Matlak mines Wordsworth's early poetry and letters to write a psychobiography which is oedipal in origin, one—as he says—that, though familiar, is both "tragic and unique." He thus analyzes the refraction of family history from Wordsworth's earliest works to The Borderers, with particular emphasis on his love for Dorothy and the psychological implications this introduced. He argues that Wordsworth harbored a vengeful wish for their father's death in retaliation for breaking up the family home after their mother's death and that this led to guilt arising from this wish which was, of course, fulfilled; thus, he is burdened both by his fantasies and by Dorothy's youthful anguish, the repercussion of their father's decisions and the consequence of his death. This leads Matlak to argue that Wordsworth felt compelled to compensate for Dorothy's sufferings, but also to feel burdened by that "debt" of compensation. Thus, "The Vale of Esthwaite" (1787–88), animated by his commiseration for Dorothy, records his lament for her especial sufferings and his "emotional and physical attraction" to her (15); "Sweet was the walk along the narrow lane" (1792) reveals his "disguised appeasement" to Dorothy for his relationship with Annette, whom Matlak sees as an erotic surrogate for Dorothy (18). Accordingly, he left Annette to avoid separation from his sister, and An Evening Walk, dedicated to Dorothy, writes the past they might have shared and affirms a poetic promise which they might realize through a "mutual vocation" (22–23). Though Matlak doesn't use this language, his conception resembles what René Girard called "triangulated desire" in which a relationship is activated by a "mediator";1 in this case that mediator linking Dorothy and Wordsworth is guilt.

Matlak finds a much more fraught connection between Dorothy and Wordsworth than has often been pictured: yes, this is a relationship remarkable for its profound love, but he does not picture it as the blissful union or blessed symbiosis that readers have often imagined. Instead, tension, intellectual/spiritual disagreement, inappropriate desires, and resentment fuel this bond. William's devotion and commitment to Dorothy, Matlak claims, awakened quasi-romantic feelings, and though Dorothy was William's immediate priority, she was also his immediate burden. Matlak envisions an encumbered Wordsworth: "With Calvert's legacy, Montagu's child, Pinney's house and Godwin's philosophy, Wordsworth left an active political life to live in relative isolation with Dorothy" (42). His profound depression of 1793–96 arises thus not from the inadequacies of Godwinism or moral actions or failure of the French Revolution, but from guilt: "Wordsworth's fulfilling his commitment to his sister thus appears to be the catalyst of his melancholia during the period from 1793 to the spring of 1796" (45).

Critics have read The Borderers as Wordsworth's successful attempt to purge depression, and the poetry of the "Great Decade" that follows seems to certify such a thesis. Matlak, however, is "uncertain of the happy endings of purgative readings" (52) and instead strives to "build" on Alan Liu's New Historical reading, arguing that a "clearer understanding of Wordsworth's biographical and psychological dilemmas provide[s] a more satisfactory explanation for the play's strange turns and improbabilities than do Liu's broader historical determinants" (53). Thus, The Borderers, begun in 1796–97, plunders early family experience to satisfy the psychological function of Wordsworth's art. Matlak identifies how many biographical details of the Wordsworth family are associated with Herbert's life and death, and asserts that the play is an attempt to deal with the Wordsworth "family psychodrama" (54): in particular Herbert's death from exposure recalls John Wordsworth's death after a night's exposure to a winter storm; Mortimer's guilt for Herbert's death hints of Wordsworth's guilt for his father's death, and the motivation for the father's return is to prevent brother-sister incest (61). And in another instance of triangulation of desire, Wordsworth's passing jealousy over Dorothy's new-found infatuation with Coleridge leads to a connection between Clifford and Coleridge. Matlak argues that the "soft floating witchery of sound" of "The Eolian Harp" most likely "inspired the creation of the voluptuary, Lord Clifford" (123). Thus Clifford "may have been Coleridge's shadow, for Rivers's sexual temptation of Mortimer seems to have been written after June 1797, the month of Coleridge's first visit to the Wordsworths and [of] Dorothy's letter" describing Coleridge (65). Finally, Matlak finds that Freud's Totem and Taboo helps illuminate the play insofar as it seems to replicate Freud's psycho-mythic history of the "unholy alliance of brothers in collusion against their father for his hegemony over the women of the primitive tribe," a phenomenon that leads brothers of the tribe to "refuse to install another as a father figure and refuse to take the father's women" (67). He concedes that The Borderers addresses the poet's "purgation of incestuous desire" and especially signals "Wordsworth's readiness for the influence of Coleridge" (71).

In Part Two, Matlak presents the "Annus Mirabilis" (July 1797 – July 1798) as a year of competition, mirroring, and differentiation, as a veritable campaign for poetic individuality. After feeling so distraught over "his ego's distress in the revolutionary world" which he allegorized in The Borderers, Wordsworth now finds "vocational direction and confidence in a dialogic and competitive interplay with Coleridge as rival poet and lover" (139). He sees Wordsworth contending with Coleridge for influence over his sister and leverage over his own life's story. Coleridge's instinctual proclivity for brilliant imitation and psychological mirroring threatened Wordsworth, who, Matlak argues, had "to battle for his creative life against the remarkable gifts of originality and imitative prowess Coleridge possessed" (82).

Matlak's interpretation of The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere relies on the context of "Coleridge's continuing desire for rebirth in the face of his life's already wearisome pattern of crises and recoveries" (83). Such an interpretation devolves on another "triangulation of desire": In the Higginbottom sonnets, Coleridge parodies Poems (1797), published by Cottle, and written by Coleridge, Lloyd, Southey and Lamb, and in those sonnets thus betrays his friends, presumably for Wordsworth and all he represents. Thus the Mariner's portrayal of the Albatross represents the weaknesses Coleridge found reflected in himself as man and poet (83). Matlak argues that Coleridge's perfidy signifies his confusion about the nature of the identity of the poet: Coleridge, like the Mariner, hurts what is innocent and beloved mainly because the Albatross, like his friends, are too kind. Thus, in this blueprint, "trusting, dependent" friends harbor personal qualities Coleridge found incompatible with the "personal strengths required of a strong poet," presumably one like Wordsworth (86).

In turn, Wordsworth's Ruined Cottage becomes a reply and corrective to Ancyent Marinere. Matlak observes the similarities between the two poems, namely that "the motive for narration in both poems seems, at first, to be pedagogical therapy" (88). Both of their tales seek to memorialize, unburden the soul, deny a horrible reality, give the deceased new life, and assuage guilt. However, "the tandem arguments of Wordsworth and Coleridge on the relationship of projection to guilt thus reach a bipolarity by March 1798: on the one hand, there is the Pedlar's claims that the wisely meditative mind can, at times, preclude self-projection and, on the other, there is the psycho-narrative of Coleridge's Mariner to illustrate the culturally determined, hardly perceptible, shaping force of projection" (98).

Matlak does, of course, locate influences on the poems from outside the immediate circle surrounding Wordsworth. Matlak contends that Erasmus Darwin's "romantic biology"—Zoonomia: or the Laws of Organic Life—is the catalyst for Wordsworth's new poetry of nature, and in particular that Darwin's discussion of animation and of the body image of inner and outer sensation influenced Wordsworth in "Tintern Abbey" (116). This profound impact of Zoonomia influences the corporal texture of Wordsworth's images; it served as "an empirical foundation for natural morality and an essentially new vision for poetry" (118).

"Tintern Abbey," he argues, should be read as "an evolving speech act that seeks to achieve a recollective synthesis of persuasive force" (120). He thus argues against Marjorie Levinson in asserting that the poem presents a tonal unease that arises not from Wordsworth's "problems with history per se, but history as experienced, which is biography" (123). Thus the five long winters are not just the famous five but the last 20, for virtually every excruciating event in Wordsworth's life occurred during the winter (123). As he speaks to his overt auditor—Dorothy—sensitive to the reverberation of family anguish, and to his implied auditor—Coleridge—he is aware that both are skeptical and both represent the skepticism of the wider audience.

Matlak focuses on this skepticism; he finds competition and differences of opinion not only between Wordsworth and Coleridge, but also between William and Dorothy, in particular in regard to divergent ontological convictions. Her natural descriptions, he claims, present a very different view of the universe; William may be asserting transcendental leanings, but Dorothy does not accept these metaphysical assertions (102), though he wants her to believe as he did and feels cut off from her on the subject. In Matlak's lengthy, complicated reading of "Tintern Abbey," he argues that the poem challenges Dorothy's indifference to natural supernaturalism and her concern for more practical things.

In turn, Coleridge becomes implicated intertextually because Wordsworth employs in "Tintern Abbey" the formal construction of classical oration Coleridge utilized in "Eolian Harp." That work also functions as the springboard for poetic argument, since it signified for Wordsworth a disquisition of opinions Wordsworth did not agree with as "it plays the easier tune in rejecting a troubled past as a period to be repented, rather than accepting it as the formative period of the present; [and] rejects personal religious vision as a prideful, negative way of indolence, mental vagrancy, and misplaced libido. . . ." (123–24). Apparently these three individuals were in conflict when they were too close—either through isolation, imitation or symbiosis—but also apprehensive when they were in disagreement. The question Matlak ends with in Part Two is whether or not Wordsworth achieves a "dialogue of one": can he "clarify his opposing beliefs and win back his sister's love"? (136). Matlak concludes that the poem left Wordsworth "pleased" (136), but as readers it is "difficult to say . . . whether Wordsworth's argument finally achieved the single-mindedness of Donne's 'dialogue of one' that derives from the perfect fusion of souls, or whether it remained, as it began, a 'dialogue of one' point of view" (137).

In Part Three, Matlak explores the experiences the Wordsworths and Coleridge had in Germany. While Coleridge has a whirling social life, devotes himself to his intellectual mission, develops a sense of economic responsibility and moral purpose and comes to feel adequate on his own (150–51), Wordsworth remains sequestered in Goslar with Dorothy, virtually quarantined; their foreign residence, separation from Coleridge, and peculiar social seclusion propels the poet to revisit incestuous desire—and to write an abundance of elegiac verse. Matlak asks, what feelings and emotions were likely to work their way into his poetry, especially into love poetry about the death of a beloved under these circumstances? He takes as the cue in his investigation of the Lucy poems Coleridge's statement in a letter that "A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal" arises from "some gloomier moment [when] he had fancied the moment in which his Sister must die" (141). In fact, Matlak suggests that his entire discussion is a "massive explanatory footnote to Coleridge's comment": "Why would Wordsworth fancy his sister's death?" (143). Thus "Strange Fits of Passion" is a poem in which Lucy must die because Wordsworth must ward off incestuous desires for Dorothy, an argument made by Bateson which Matlak freshens by arguing for Wordsworth's deep "ambivalence towards Dorothy for her serious inconvenience" (159). Matlak's interpretation thus contrasts to Richard Holmes's statements that Coleridge criticizes Wordsworth for bringing Dorothy because he was jealous of Wordsworth's "singleness of mind in pursuing his own poetic path, and sharing it so intimately with Dorothy" (Holmes, 217), the "Muse" with whom he wanted to be "completely alone" (Holmes, 209).2 Matlak envisions Wordsworth rather more desperate, trapped by both his love and hostility, imagining Dorothy's death: "the emotional outcome of the cycle of the Lucy poems . . . was to alter the poet's love for his sister and to solve once and for all its dangers and vicissitudes" (159). Matlak's position is complemented by Kenneth Johnston's new biography, The Hidden Wordsworth, which contends that "to reduce the meaning of these magical poems to a conscious or unconscious repressing of sexual feelings is an expense of theory in a work of shame. Yet equally wrongheaded is the determination to deny the power of such feelings in their creation" (646).3

In the concluding "Coda–Second Selves," Matlak offers a feminist interpretation of Michael, arguing that Isabel's experience of cottage life as entrapment urges her to encourage Luke's "escape"; but in doing so, her longings (which Luke has assimilated) conflict with Michael's more traditional values, without either of them realizing the discrepancy of opinion "secretly coexisting in the Shepherd's cottage" (204–06). Thus, the domestic drama of Michael "represents Wordsworth's final recognition that even the nearest to one and most dear cannot be expected to share, to understand, to feel a responsibility for the values that one cherishes" (8). Wordsworth transfers the hopes he had placed in his sister in "Tintern Abbey" to the Poets who will become his "second selves."

Clearly, this psychobiography is not engaged with history or politics per se, but rather with, as he defines biography, experienced history. So for those more concerned with historical/political perspective, his approach will be less satisfactory. Those who are interested in the psychoanalytic pressures that impel poetic production will find this an absorbing series of interpretations, though they may be irritated by the lack of many specific or varied psychoanalytic sources or—in contrast—by the tendency to quote Freud when the psychoanalytic reference seems self-evident (as when he cites Freud to define sleep as "a withdrawal of concern from the external world" [160] or when the term seems like common knowledge, as when he defines overdetermination). Finally, for some, his reliance on Freud and the omission of Freud's more recent interpreters might seem to narrow his perspective.

We do find here, though, a thoughtful study, one that has carefully reviewed a long critical tradition and that clearly reveals many years of contemplative analysis. Readers, too, will perhaps find that Matlak's emphasis on Wordsworth's guilt offers a counter-idea to the image of the confident poet who lived in a kind of domestic bliss, first with Dorothy and then with Dorothy and Mary. Finally, it would be of interest to know how Matlak would interpret the poems written after 1820 from the point of view of Wordsworth's guilt, especially given Dorothy's agony in those later years.

1. René Girard, Deceit, Desire, and the Novel. Translated by Yvonne Freccero (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1965), 1–52.
2. Richard Holmes, Coleridge: Early Visions (New York: Penguin, 1990).
3. Kenneth R. Johnston, The Hidden Wordsworth: Poet, Lover, Rebel, Spy (New York: W. W. Norton, 1998).

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