Posts in category "Vol. 3 No. 1"

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William Jewett, Fatal Autonomy: Romantic Drama and the Rhetoric of Agency and Michael Simpson, Closet Performances: Political Exhibition and Prohibition in the Dramas of Byron and Shelley

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William Jewett, Fatal Autonomy: Romantic Drama and the Rhetoric of Agency. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997. xiv + 262pp. $49.95 (Hdbk; ISBN: 0-8014-3352-5).
Michael Simpson, Closet Performances: Political Exhibition and Prohibition in the Dramas of Byron and Shelley. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998.  xiii + 469pp. 
$55.00  (Hdbk; ISBN: 0-8047-3095-4).

Reviewed by
Catherine Burroughs
Wells College and Cornell University

In an age when anxieties about the political efficacy of institutional theatre are so palpable, it is no surprise that the question of why certain playscripts reside in "the closet" has proved a crucial line of investigation for scholars. Indeed, recent critical preoccupation with how the body and mind of any reader-spectator are implicated in both the acts of playreading and playgoing seems a poignant response to the desire to believe that theatre, broadly defined, can effect positive cultural change.

During the 1990s, Renaissance critics and Romanticists began to focus with increasing interest on the "closet play" in order to argue its historical significance and—more generally—to consider how drama "works." These critics were partially motivated by the trend in performance studies to de-center textual authority and to expand the category of "play" to include a wide range of performances in neglected and unexamined venues. Since plays never intended to be performed (or, for whatever reason, held back from the public or private stage) are often those that have historically violated and transgressed theatrical conventions and expectations in fascinating ways, the study of closet drama can draw attention to some of the ways that politics permeates the process of doing theatre.

In this context, William Jewett's Fatal Autonomy: Romantic Drama and the Rhetoric of Agency and Michael Simpson's Closet Performances: Political Exhibition and Prohibition in the Dramas of Byron and Shelley are important additions to the field of Romantic theatre and drama. Both argue for the centrality of Romantic (closet) drama in Romantic studies while admirably refraining from overstating the claims for the political import of their analyses. Jewett and Simpson each shift the focus of critical debate in closet drama criticism—away from either denigrating closet plays as static "virtual theatre" or celebrating them as excitingly innovative—to considering how the language of particular dramas foregrounds ways in which human beings wrestle with the problem of political action. In this sense, both Jewett and Simpson portray Romantic plays as resonant for our own age. As Jewett eloquently puts it, Romantic drama is a "glass in which we can see how we come upon empowering and disempowering beliefs about what we can do" (13).

The very liminality of the closet drama genre—poised between textuality and stage production—was and is a major factor in its ability to feature the moral problem of how "minds" may be, in Simpson's words, "transported from a contemplative situation to an active enterprise" (329–30). But to what extent can Romantic (closet) plays be read as actions in themselves, and to what extent can one can speak about the plays' authors as agents of action? How did particular dramatists use the closet play to express their own anxieties about agency?

These are some of the questions William Jewett explores in his subtly-argued and eloquent book, Fatal Autonomy, which persuasively demonstrates that Romantic drama was finely attuned to the moral problem of how to achieve political action during the prime revolutionary periods of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Chapter 1 presents Coleridge's and Southey's collaborative "history play," The Fall of Robespierre, as representative of "the potential ambiguity" one finds in Romantic drama about the "sanctity of individuals"(29). Robespierre features a shift in dramaturgical and rhetorical structures with which to "attack the reduction of political history to the moral decisions and acts of autonomous subjects" and, paradoxically, envisions a concept of drama that would "dramatize without representing" "a new form of historical agency" (44, 42). Robert Southey's Wat Tyler enacts the paradox that political agency is achieved "whenever social energies can be 'embodied' by a man speaking on stage" (56); the "political agent" is the one—or anyone—who "wields" dramatic rhetoric (57). In Chapter 2, Jewett astutely argues that Wordsworth's The Borderers "shows how theatricality can lead to a misrecognition that denies historical differences" (79), and his analysis of Coleridge's Osorio in Chapter 3 describes the playwright as "interested not so much in diagnosing or defending the function of stagecraft in the liberal state as in using it to show readers how they dispose of their own living spirits" (126).

In the second section of the book, Jewett elaborates on these moral preoccupations described in Part One by turning to representative closet plays by Byron and Shelley produced in the wake of the Peterloo Massacre of 1819. In Chapter 4, Jewett looks at The Cenci, in which Beatrice's "troubling awareness of what it feels like for a moral ideal to be stuck in a body" (140) suggests "how explicitly" the play addresses "the general problem of embodying ideas"(141); the "collapse of the dramatic" is part of The Cenci's "central" design (153). Chapter 5, which features "the theme of diffused agency" in Byron's Marino Faliero (176), argues that the play "functions as a mise en abime of historical reflection": Byron can be represented as looking "back into the mirror of Venetian history hoping to construct an image of his own condition as political agent, only to discover the doge of Venice likewise gazing into the mirror of history in order to anticipate his own recovery of political agency" (178). Similarly, Chapter 6 makes the case that Shelley's play, Charles the First, provides "an indispensable context" (209) for appreciating how Shelley's final poem, The Triumph of Life, sheds light on his "late understanding of history" (209). This "understanding" is integrally tied up with Shelley's move from one genre to another in the last stages of his life as this move reflected his interest in "blending" (220) the historical perspectives of both David Hume and Catharine Macaulay to convey "doubts about the skeptical suspension of judgment itself, particularly its power to disarm historical agents of the rhetorical means by which they adopt beliefs they can act upon" (240).

Jewett's argument works not to suggest that theatre is without power but rather to provide a new take on the customary criticism that Romantic drama is antitheatrical: perhaps closet plays from the 1790s and 1820s deliberately critique theatricality and the historical theatre of their day in an effort to problematize some of the ways that rhetoric about agency and action expresses a desire for a mode of embodiment on political stages neither realizable nor conceptually defined. As Jewett so convincingly argues throughout his book, the choice to write drama inevitably poses the question of "whether the bodies put on exhibit allow for the public articulation of private irony that might make irony do the political work of turning spectators into actors" (246). Yet the fact that "the drama's generic commitment to embodiment" is "inextricable" from the drama's "ability to draw on the political force of arguments" (249) does not ensure that political agency will be induced in spectators or readers. The "spectacle" of suffering bodies may serve as "an occasion for moral and political commentary," but any "political power claimed for writing runs up against the limit of bodily suffering" (253).

With this acknowledgment of the limitations of Romantic drama's political statements about history and agency, Jewett concludes his deeply thoughtful study on a sobering note. But, in arguing that the language of Romantic dramas often "act[s] out the problem they name" (97), Jewett provides theorists of Romantic closet drama with an important claim for its historical significance: the genre meets head on "the moral vortex generated out of the surrender of agency dictated by the circumstances of historical change" (98). Rather than being instances of a marginalized form, "dramas of dislocated agency contributed to the early development of Romanticism" (100).

Michael Simpson's Closet Performances: Political Exhibition and Prohibition in the Dramas of Byron and Shelley makes a similar point by focusing not on the way Romantic drama provoked (or may have provoked) actual individuals to act but by examining how it was structured to dramatize questions about political agency. His analysis of closet drama's generic features in the context of intellectual history permits him to argue that Shelley's and Byron's plays composed in Italy between 1816 and 1823 aimed to appeal to a group of historical readers by calling them to identify with "the individuated figure of the closet reader," a construct perfectly poised between "the threshold leading to both its own body and to the distasteful but sometimes unavoidable sphere of mere politics" (343). The result was the creation of "a largely passive public body whose political efficacy resides in its capacious being, its ability to embody and represent interests, rather than in its facility for action" (304).

Chapter 1 describes how narratives of the period conceptualized drama as "political" though privileging the power of the textual. Potential and actual productions threatened to challenge "an agreed cultural politics" (73), which Simpson represents in Chapter 2 by analyzing the emergence of a "new discourse that comes to be opposed to the institution of law and its consequent efforts to censor this discourse" (74). This analysis of how Jeremy Bentham and John Horne Tooke (among others) produced a political discourse that "constellates itself around the trope of language" (85) deepens our understanding of how the drama of the period was policed in ways that only indirectly had to do with the theatre monopoly and office of the Lord Chamberlain established by the Licensing Act of 1737. Thus situated in the context of a political discourse that was "interpellated" by a discourse about language and the constitution (89), Romantic drama emerges not only as more subtly political but also as more responsive to both the threats and liberatory spaces constructed by its culture.

By reading and re-reading several of the same dramas under a different set of questions in Chapters 3 and 4—Manfred, Sardanapalus, Prometheus Unbound, Marino Faliero, Hellas, Cain, and Heaven and Earth—Simpson argues "that the dramas mobilize internalized versions of themselves as a political assertion" (2). Their project is "re-inventing a suspended political discourse and trying to colonize [for "polite radicals"] its vulgar component" (112). That they perform this project as "closet dramas" allows the plays to "be read as recommending" a "directly political materialization of their texts' imperatives" paradoxically by both "denying themselves a material realization" and "projecting a realization of themselves" (2). While a number of the plays exert "a degree of self-censorship that works to preempt any hostile surveillance" (206), they also construct an audience sympathetic to their program through mocking and ironizing censorship itself (206). In this sense, these plays survive within "an economy of observance" by assuming an identity "between authoritarian self-critique and an ironic critique of that self-critique" (298).

Simpson's fifth chapter performs a reading of Byron's The Two Foscari and Shelley's The Cenci in the context of a provocative discussion of epistemological and architectural associations with "the closet" trope. Simpson's discussion of the "sociality of the closet" (310) lends support to recent attempts to reconceive the dichotomy between "private" and "public," especially in the context of nineteenth-century women writers, and his tracing of the historical and theoretical connections between the sexual and political closet is bound to advance the work begun on the similarities between Romantic closet plays and gay dramaturgy. Simpson's is the most extensive and serious attempt I've encountered to describe how closet drama functions.

Both Fatal Autonomy and Closet Performances do an excellent job of weaving together an astonishing number of intellectual, theoretical, critical, and historical strands in order to make a weighty and persuasive case for studying Romantic drama outside of the critical tradition that has reinforced its marginalized status. While readers of Jewett's and Simpson's studies might become impatient with the fact that both authors seem to claim so little for the plays to which they devote so much scrutiny, the effect of their determination to answer focused questions in almost exhausting and, at times, tedious detail is to make a very strong case for investigating what Romantic closet drama does—on the way to assessing what it has meant, and could mean. Certainly both Jewett's and Simpson's projects demonstrate that knowledge of the closet play tradition in British theatre history is indispensable for gaining a fuller picture of the margins and center of British culture between 1790 and 1840.

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Deidre Shauna Lynch, The Economy of Character: Novels, Market Culture, and the Business of Inner Meaning.

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Deidre Shauna Lynch, The Economy of Character: Novels, Market Culture, and the Business of Inner Meaning. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998. xiv + 318pp. illus. $45.00 (Hdbk; ISBN: 0-226-49819-0). $18.00 (Pap; ISBN: 0-226-49820-4).

Reviewed by
John O'Brien
University of Virginia

Deidre Lynch's study of how eighteenth-century British culture imagined the concept of character recovers a mostly-forgotten mode of reading and understanding, one in which outsides rather than insides, objects rather than subjects occupy the center of critical attention. Deftly showing how early eighteenth-century readers typically apprehended "the ethical, the physiognomic, the typographic, and even the numismatic" meanings of the term character all at once (30), Lynch persuasively recasts the history of literary conventions as a history of changing reading practices in a culture that was being transformed by the expansion of market relationships into every domain. By disaggregating her account of the eighteenth century's transformation of reading protocols from either the history of the novel form or the history of the individual subject, Lynch offers a clear alternative—and a challenge—to teleological and post-Romantic approaches to literary character. Marshaling an impressive range of literary and historical evidence, Lynch describes how character-writing gained new purpose by the end of the eighteenth century by becoming, in the genre of the novel of manners, the site where readers could go to learn about how to develop distinctive characters of their own.

In the first part of her study, Lynch reconstructs an early eighteenth-century understanding of character that is relentlessly materialist: characters as "reading matter" in the strictest possible sense. Ranging widely across fictional, critical, philosophical, and other discourses, Lynch demonstrates how readers in this period assessed literary characters not so much on the basis of the depths of their psyches as on the quality of the impression they make, the legibility of the physical marks by which one character becomes distinguishable from the next. Lynch sees print as offering the model by which philosophers like Locke and Shaftesbury as well as writers, artists, and even actors such as David Garrick sought to realize character in their own domains: "by expediting the diffusion and uniform legibility of information, printed characters supplied the social order with its impersonal mechanisms of coherence and comprehensibility" (41). In a system that takes the concept of character so literally, the distinction between the realistic character and the grotesque caricature—what Lynch calls "the fine line between the more and the less" (23)—is not essential but incidental, the matter of a few strokes of the pen. But such a conception also helped proliferate character-types beyond easy comprehension or classification, an anxiety that Lynch sees as in part motivating the many novels depicting a young man being educated into gentility through his interaction with a broad range of social types. Although she touches on many texts, including Tom Jones, Betsy Thoughtless, and A Sentimental Journey, her central case is Tobias Smollett's Roderick Random, a novel whose protagonist's ability to circulate among all levels of British society seems predicated on his genericness. Roderick Random's curious lack of self-possession, Lynch suggests, stages the problem that novels will come to address more insistently: the need to render characters general enough that many different readers might be able to identify with them, but also to make them capable of being claimed as an individual reader's own property.

The second half of The Economy of Character describes the changed understanding of character in the second half of the eighteenth century as a change in reading practices brought on by the expanded market for printed matter. She argues that as reading became democratized, new strategies of discrimination were called for, strategies that entailed a shift from assessing outsides to projecting insides. She traces a growing desire for locating what could now be described as "round" characters, finding particularly interesting cases in Shakespeare criticism of the 1770s, where a new appreciation (or invention) of the depths of characters like Falstaff and Hamlet she takes to be symptomatic of the culture's growing desire to make subjectivity the hallmark of individuality. The privileged site of intelligibility for this operation is the novel, which Lynch sees as gaining new centrality in this period because of the way that it claimed to offer a unique insight into the inner lives of the characters around whose narratives they organized themselves. Lynch sees the boom in novel publishing from the 1760s onward as accountable in part by the fact that novelists began to craft literary characters whose inner lives offered "the imaginative resources on which readers drew to make themselves into individuals, to expand their own interior resources of sensibility" (126). Rather than the product of formal development, the protocols for interiority that the novel increasingly claimed as its province must be seen as the consequence of an expanding market culture that opened the question of how, in a world where character circulated like other commodities, a person could claim to exist in a place apart from the world of other circulating objects. Such problems, she argues, were particularly acute for young women, who found themselves to be objects on the marriage market. Here, she uses the heroines of Frances Burney's and Jane Austen's novels as her central cases for describing how the novel of manners offers readers—particularly women readers—what she dubs a "virtual subjectivity" (181), a prosthetic identity that readers can use as a space within which to explore and refine a self imagined to be private and distinctive, possessed of a unique sensibility that is nonetheless modeled on a character in a work of mass-produced fiction.

Among the bracing pleasures of Lynch's book is that it recovers a way of talking about the characters who inhabit eighteenth-century British literature that takes them on their own terms, rather than as failed anticipations of the denizens of, say, Henry James's fictions. As she puts it, early eighteenth-century characters were not "round characters inside flat characters all along, signaling frantically to get out" (123). She shows how even Austen, a novelist often taken to have finally gotten it right when it comes to describing a character from the inside, is well aware of the tradition of assessing types from the outside, and an apt student (as well as wry critic) of the crowded print market within which her own novels had to make their way. Lynch thus makes it possible to come to such familiar books as Evelina and Persuasion with eyes reacquainted with habits their first readers would have taken for granted, and it is also easy to imagine how her insights could be applied to authors she does not take up herself, such as Scott or Dickens. Perhaps most provocatively, Lynch suggests how our own desire to plumb the depths of round characters—an exercise pursued in the literature classroom as well as in the private space of reading—is both historically determinate and socially purposeful. The endless re-readability of round characters in literary texts has, she argues, served to organize, justify, and sustain literary studies since the early nineteenth century, constituting the basis of an institutional investment in the inexhaustability of characters that continues to the present.

Because she eschews throwing her lot in with master-narratives on the order of the rise of the novel, the middle class, or the individual subject, the link between the two broad sections of Lynch's study—organized respectively around the older model of the surface character and the newer, more familiar depth model of the early nineteenth century and beyond—is not fully narrated. In effect, various aspects of the "market culture" of her subtitle are recruited to serve as the root causes underpinning both modes by which characters were apprehended by eighteenth-century readers. When describing the first two thirds of the century, Lynch sees the expanding market in print and other commodities as calling for new "coping mechanisms," among which were the well-marked characters who served to make the complexities of the market legible. Later, she describes the transformation of character into a more inward concept as a consequence of the consumer revolution of the mid-eighteenth century and beyond; characters become commodities circulating within a (still-expanding) market in print as well as a way of differentiating oneself within an (even more) commodified culture. The market comes to be an extremely labile but also monolithic concept here, and I found myself sometimes wishing that she might articulate with greater specificity the contours of the economic and social change that she invokes. Still, Lynch's readings are so acute, and the kinds of evidence she is able to bring to bear on her subject so broad-ranging—from the late eighteenth-century simplification of men's clothing, Josiah Wedgwood's marketing practices, the history of quotation marks, the narratives of the Young Pretender's adventures, among others—that her tight focus on the question of character's transformation over the course of this period is more than justified. Perhaps most impressively, Lynch displays a voice and sensibility that one can only describe as characteristic in the sense of distinctive, a deft facility with a wide range of material and evidence that easily marks this as an exciting and original book, one that students and fans of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British fiction will profit from and enjoy.

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Saree Makdisi, Romantic Imperialism: Universal Empire and the Culture of Modernity.

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Saree Makdisi, Romantic Imperialism: Universal Empire and the Culture of Modernity. Cambridge Studies in Romanticism, no. 27. Cambridge University Press, 1998. xv + 248 pp. $59.95 (Hdbk; ISBN: 0-521-58438-8); $18.95 (Pbk;
ISBN: 0-521-58604-6).

Reviewed by
Alan Richardson
Boston College

Saree Makdisi's important new book, Romantic Imperialism, appears at a critical moment for Romantic studies. Pathbreaking work by Marilyn Butler, John Barrell, Mary Louise Pratt, and Nigel Leask has successfully established that the cultural movement called "British Romanticism" cannot be fully understood without reference to the profound geopolitical transformations that make the years 1780-1830 as important for the history of the British Empire as for conventional literary history. For the first time, a significant number of literary scholars have begun paying sustained attention to such issues as the slave trade, colonial slavery, and the mass movements directed against them; the crisis in imperial confidence following the loss of the North American colonies; the increasing turn to the East, and especially India, in developing the "second" British empire; the consolidation of the "internal" empire through the Act of Union with Ireland and the pacification and commodification of the Highlands; the exploration and continuing exploitation of sub-Saharan Africa; the Haitian revolution and the threat of black self-determination elsewhere in the Caribbean; the growing importance of the Hispanophone Americas for British trade and foreign policy; and the rise of modern racism as a justification for slavery and empire. Few students of Romanticism would now be willing to dismiss these issues and events as peripheral to the literature of the time. New anthologies like Anne Mellor and Richard Matlak's British Literature 1780-1830 and Peter Manning and Susan Wolfson's "Romantics and Their Contemporaries" section of the Longman Anthology have made the global aspects of Romanticism central to the new classroom canons, and essay collections edited by Sonia Hofkosh and myself (in the U.S.) and Tim Fulford and Peter Kitson (in the U.K) have helped bring a number of new critical voices and perspectives into play. Yet, as the reception of this new work has shown, a backlash is already making itself felt, even as many of the relevant texts are finally becoming widely available and the serious study of Romanticism and empire is just getting underway. Longstanding Romantic notions of the autonomy of the creative imagination and the transcendent character of high art have resurfaced in charges that to consider the imperialist and racist aspects of British Romanticism is an exercise in anachronistic "political correctness" and a reduction of complex human subjects to "ideological robots." Makdisi's powerfully argued book enters a recently trivialized dialogue with a series of claims that some will consider outrageous, amounting to a fundamentally new understanding both of Romanticism and empire. It is this very outrageousness that makes Romantic Imperialism so timely and so welcome.

Makdisi's study is impressive in three ways: for its elegance, for its ambition, and for its originality in according a major role to British Romanticism within the study of modern imperialism. Each of these virtues comes at a certain price. The book's elegance is achieved partly by means of a great deal of abstraction, such that Wordsworth's "spots of time," for example, are discussed without reference to either of the two passages in The Prelude that Wordsworth himself associated with that phrase. Its ambition--nothing short of filling the gap between Said's model of Orientalism and Jameson's theory of modern capitalism--involves a noticeable amount of overstatement and historical fudging. And its original take on "Romanticism" depends on taking for granted a traditional conception of that notoriously vexed term and concentrating on a canon of representative writers (Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Blake, and Scott as the author of Waverley) that sometimes makes Makdisi's analysis seem simultaneously cutting-edge and dated. Its very spareness and its concentration on conventional Romantic topics (Nature, the sublime, the spot of time, Romantic exoticism), however, helps the argument to emerge cleanly and with a single-mindedness that seems justified by the clarity with which Makdisi covers some very dense theoretical ground. This is a book to argue with as much as to learn from; an exemplary book to teach with and indeed to think with. It is refreshing in its willingness to take a strong position and argue it through without piling up qualifications and concessions, even though this same feature makes it misleadingly easy to take exception to this or that statement or reading.

Makdisi understands Romanticism as a "specific cultural formation" both inaugurating and resisting a larger historical process, a "cultural revolution" that Makdisi terms "modernization" (xi-xii). Modernization brings together capitalism and imperialism: It is an intrinsically global process that strives toward an impossible goal, the homogenization of world markets and cultures in the interests of dominant groups associated with the European metropolitan centers (exemplified by London). Modernization entails the reinvention both of space and time. Space must be mapped out and rationalized (a process that unites as seemingly disparate phenomena as the enclosure movement in England and the mapping of the African interior), while time is globally regulated, imposing the universal tick of clock-time in an ever-increasing range of venues from the Birmingham factory to the most distant colonial spaces. Borrowing crucially (and repeatedly) from Johannes Fabian's Time and the Other, Makdisi recurs throughout the study to ways in which literary works both participate in and contest the imposition of "this new abstract space-time" (181). On the one hand, spatial differences are reconceived of as temporal differences and a diachronic model of "development" (still present in terms like "developing nations") is imposed from the metropole onto the imperial periphery, consigning whole continents to backward or primitive status. (This is a project that Makdisi associates especially with James Mill and his History of British India.) On the other, a program of progress and development is imposed throughout the globe, not least in the metropolitan centers themselves. Romantic writers illustrate these tendencies while attempting to contest them, constructing imaginary refuges from the modernizing process that cannot, however, ultimately withstand the process they throw into relief.

The two chapters on Wordsworth demonstrate how the rise of the imperial metropole, the construction of "Nature" as a refuge from modernization, and the positing of an alternative temporality in the "spot of time" all cohere in the work of a (the?) canonical Romantic poet. Through a reading of Book VII of The Prelude, Makdisi shows that Wordsworth's London represents not only the city (in contrast to the countryside), but a modern imperial metropolis in the making, a site where the turmoil, confusion, and alienation of the modernizing process become most evident. Wordsworth's descriptions of the "colonial crowd"--"Moors, Malays, Lascars," the American "Hunter-Indian" and "Negro Ladies"--convey a colorful but also terrifying vision, one from which Wordsworth attempts to escape through the "spots of time" (31). The spot of time constitutes a temporality distinct from and opposed to the relentless forward movement of modernization; it is at once inviolate and hopelessly fragile. (Thus "Nutting" gives a better sense of Makdisi's "spot of time" than does The Prelude itself.) Wordsworth's "Nature" is seen as itself a "refuge" from modernization, an alternative space that offers an escape from (and implies a critique of) the emergent capitalist-imperialist enterprise. Taking aim at Jonathan Bate's "ahistorical" conception of nature (179), Makdisi argues that Wordsworthian (Romantic) Nature is "negatively defined" and therefore produced by the very processes that it is meant to oppose (60). It is a "heterotopic space" in much the way that Scott's Highlands or Byron's Orient constitute a threatened "pocket of the non-synchronic within a much larger and increasingly synchronized space-time of modernity" (64).

In his trenchant reading of Waverley, Makdisi argues that the process of internal colonization--the tightening of control over Scotland and Ireland under the banner of "Great Britain"--is integrally related to the larger process of modernization. Scott's comparisons of Highlanders to Africans or Orientals are anything but incidental. As Edward Waverley moves forward in space, he moves backwards in time, into the pre-modern temporality of the Highlands. Scott's Highlands constitute a colonial space valued for its exoticism and yet destined to be violently brought into the orbit of British modernity. From the standpoint of the novel's writing time ("sixty years since") rather than its narrative time, this process in fact is already well underway; in a rather cruel irony, the Highlands can be celebrated (and retailed) for their picturesque, pre-modern characteristics only because their threat as a real historical alternative has been removed by Culloden and its aftermath. The fabrication of ersatz Highland traditions (famously discussed by Hugh Trevor-Roper) is exemplified by Waverley itself, most self-consciously in the imaginary portrait of Waverley and Fergus that Scott describes at the novel's end. Illuminating as Makdisi's reading is (and I can only begin to do it justice in this brief sketch), it is less than entirely satisfying. The largest single problem is the binary opposition of the Highlands on the one hand and England and the Lowlands on the other, in place of the triangular relation among England, the Lowlands, and the Highlands that places the Lowlands (and Anglo-Scottish culture, and Scott) in the strategic mediating position. Throughout the study, in fact, Makdisi prefers binary oppositions--pre-modern and modern, synchronous and non-synchronous time, the Highlands (along with Ireland) and England (along with the Lowlands), old-style Orientalism and modern Orientalism (chapter 5)--and shows as little interest in shadings and overlaps as in third (or fourth) terms. The gain in neatness is purchased with a loss in nuance.

The chapter on Byron, Shelley, and Romantic Orientalism is a characteristically instructive study in tidy opposition. The Byron of Childe Harold is more pilgrim than tourist, constructing an Orient that still can serve as refuge from and opponent to the inexorably modernizing West, an "anti-modern" space from which to pose a critique of the metropolitan center (125, 137). Yet Byron's Orientalism is marked by the significant "anxiety" that his imagined Orient cannot ultimately withstand the onslaughts of the universal empire. Shelley's Orient in Alastor, in stark contrast, is constructed as an archaic, virtually empty space open to the progressive leadership of European liberalism--another face of homogenizing modernization. Makdisi writes compellingly of the implicit imperial violence behind the strangely desolate landscapes--and cityscapes--of Shelley's own imaginary Orient. Shelley too registers a certain note of anxiety--manifested in the haunting of the landscape by a solitary (and seemingly invisible) Arab maiden--but his vision of the Orient (particularly as developed in the Philosophical View of Reform) is congruent with the liberal universalism of a James Mill. What Shelley's--or for that matter Byron's--representation of the Orient has to do with gender is barely touched on, although earlier readings of the Romantic East (especially Leask's) have suggested that issues of gender play a crucial role in the literary Orientalism of the time.

Makdisi's reading of Blake provides the most unexpected and intriguing chapter of the book. Returning to the concerns of the Wordsworth chapters, Makdisi begins with Blake's "London" as a text concerned with the modernization process as it radiates out from the metropolis. He then traces Blake's construction of London through a number of passages elsewhere, particularly in The Four Zoas, in arguing that Blake intuits the emergence of a "universal empire" and attempts to counter it with a redemptive global vision of his own. Blake's dazzling manipulations of space and time provide an ideal subject for Makdisi's methodological interests. One can argue with some of his analyses--especially of the Book of Los, a poem which might be read as implying that only the revolutionary West can lead Asia and Africa out of darkness (a vision comparable to Shelley's). But the new definition of British Romanticism that concludes the book remains an extremely engaging one: "Romanticism . . . can be understood as a cultural discourse defining the mutual constitution of the modern imperial center and its anti-modern colonies and peripheries" (175). This is one of the most important statements that has been made regarding Romanticism as an identifiable cultural movement (as opposed to simply a span of years) in some time. Makdisi's iconoclastic view of Romanticism, with the models and readings he offers in support of it, should do much to restore a sense of seriousness to the developing critical dialogue on British Romanticism and empire.

With all due gratitude for the new impetus Makdisi has provided, I want to end by pointing out some of the areas his book ignores and that might usefully complicate both Makdisi's argument and the study of Romantic imperialism generally. First, though, I would emphasize that work in this area will gain if it develops more as a conversation than as a set of relatively isolated contributions. It is a shame, then, that Makdisi's reading of Wordsworth, London, and empire fails to engage with that of Alison Hickey, or that his reading of Scott and the ironies of commodifying a broken Highland identity does not acknowledge Peter Murphy's similar analysis, or (most unaccountably of all) that his reading of Byron, Shelley, and the East does not take up or even mention Leask's brilliant work on this topic. Nor does Makdisi register the challenge to his view of Romanticism as providing a refuge from and critique of emergent global capitalism posed by Hofkosh's argument (in relation to Equiano) that Romanticism may enable modern capitalism as well. Hofkosh's reading of Equiano on this point serves as a salutary reminder that "Romanticism" is, after all, a retrospective construct, and figures like Equiano or Southey may be as important in work on Romanticism and empire as more familiar figures like Wordsworth and Shelley. A full account of "Romantic imperialism" would include attention to women writers like Williams, Barbauld, Yearsley, Owenson, Edgeworth, and Hemans; to the "minor Romantics" of yore like Southey, Landor, and Moore (all more "major" in their time than Blake or Shelley); and to writers who have never seen much of a revival but whose works take up issues of colonialism and empire in important ways, like James Montgomery, Mary Birkett, Edward Rushton, and Hugh Mulligan. Obviously I'm imagining here not so much a single monograph (however weighty) than a critical movement, one that I hope will continue to emerge. Such a movement will, to be successful, want to pay much more sustained attention to issues of gender than does Makdisi in this study, returning to the example of Leask, and will have much more to say about Africa and the Americas. It will also do well, I think, to make the issues of the slave trade and colonial slavery central to discussions of literature and empire in the period, as anti-slavery writing brings out a quite different dimension (and even conception) of literary activity in the period. Further work in this area, however, will be the stronger for the example set here by Makdisi, and will want to take his methodology, his specific readings, and his overarching vision of Romantic imperialism into account.

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Michael O'Neill, Romanticism and the Self-Conscious Poem.

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Michael O'Neill, Romanticism and the Self-Conscious Poem. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997.  xliv + 308 pp. $75.00 (Hdbk; ISBN: 0-19-812285-3).

Reviewed by
Jeffrey Robinson
University of Colorado at Boulder

In the first eight chapters of Romanticism and the Self-Conscious Poem, Michael O'Neill reads many of the most familiar poems of Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, and Keats in order to show the pervasiveness during the British Romantic Period of "a text that knows it is a text" and of speakers, to varying degrees identifying with "the poet," struggling with but often surmounting anxieties about writing, about poems, and about the imagination. Behind the readings, which often celebrate and praise the dexterity and honesty with which self-consciousness is identified, described, and surpassed in the exercise of other-relatedness, lies the polemical insistence to save poems from the ravenous and reductive clutches of theorists and historicist critics (particularly the latter) so that he might recover the full aesthetic power of the poems. In a long "Coda," O'Neill discusses poems by Yeats, Stevens, and Auden and Amy Clampitt's suite of poems Voyages: A Homage to John Keats. This section acts to authenticate the Romantic self-conscious poem in the work of the High Moderns and in a more contemporary work that interprets the life and poetry of the perennially most beloved of Romantic poets; it asserts, moreover, a fundamental lineage of poetry from the French Revolution to our own time and, by implication, confirms in principle Harold Bloom's version of the line of "strong" poets in Britain and the United States.

This is an elegant book. Every chapter has, in an earlier version, been published elsewhere, adding to the polish of the sentence and the monumental strength of the paragraph. Writing in a very confident spirit, O'Neill demonstrates again and again how sensitive a reader he is, how he works his listening regard for the poetic line. For me the most valuable feature of his criticism is the way he follows attentively the psychological (or self-conscious) "presents" of a poem, helping the reader to register the shift of a speaker's thought as an event of the poem.

Rather than detail the contents of the chapters, I would like to take up the challenge of the book's polemic—against historicist criticism and for "the aesthetic."  The book's elegance partially encourages a sense of its impermeability to questions about O'Neill's assumptions. Admirers of this book, indeed, will probably find equally compelling the critical writings of W.J. Bate, Harold Bloom, Helen Vendler and their followers. O'Neill works directly and openly in their footsteps, with their emphasis on the aesthetic and the importance of irony and skepticism about poetry (Bate and Vendler) as the form of self-consciousness (cf., Bloom's interest in the covering cherub or spectre in Blake). In these critics as well, it is assumed that we know and all agree about what "the aesthetic" is, what moral and psychological qualities accompany and express it, what as readers we should derive from poems exhibiting it, and what kind of future poetry it ought best to spawn.

While admiring the care, unusual for academic critics of poetry today, with which O'Neill attends to the elements of poems, I find the interpretation of the poems, of "Romantic poetry," and of poetry in general pinched and unoriginal. The skepticism about historicism is partly the point but is also a red herring. I, like O'Neill, believe that, with notable exceptions, historicism has given us more context than text and that ultimately poems always need a kind of primary attention; however, the findings of historicists have at the same time given superbly useful information about the Romantic Period and about poets and poetry and have helped to reshape our sense of the predispositions and biases held by poets. But a book like O'Neill's doesn't "redress the balance" because it doesn't reconsider what the great awareness we have about the period might mean for the poems and for Romantic poetics: it simply rejects or, to use one of O'Neill's favorite terms of Romantic poetic success, "resists" history and ideology. (The poems on which he focuses "do" what he as a critic does: resist history.) The serious inadequacy of O'Neill's book is not solely its resistance to historicism but is also due to his praise of the heroic speaker's resisting, side-stepping and ignoring what Allen Grossman calls "the referent": the world, physical and historical and social, beyond the self or lyric subject. The assumption that good Romantic poetry does not reach out, inclusively, to the world, that Wordsworth is wrong about the poet as "a man speaking to men" and Shelley wrong about the poet as "unacknowledged legislator," and that the poet does not, as Mary Robinson says, "wake up" along with other London citizens seems to miss an essential point about Romantic poetry.

Most poets of the Romantic age express the belief in poetry's intersubjective, visionary, and reformist possibilities. But poetry doesn't always declare these goals up front; the relationship between a poem and the world is mediated by its poetics, its own oblique language—and the absence of awareness of the effect of poetics on the reading of a poem is a major problem in O'Neill's discussions. (Indeed, since historicist readings also don't question poetics—Marjorie Levinson on Keats being an exception—O'Neill's book oddly fits quite comfortably into the larger domain of historicism; until poetics enters the picture, the Historicist and the Aesthetic readings will simply reinforce prejudices in an endless round or ratio of self-satisfaction.)

O'Neill, for example, presents Blake's rejection of the "Monotonous Cadence" of blank verse for the more open and varied line in his later prophetic works in the context not of a major break-through in visionary poetics (see by contrast the Introduction to the great anthology of modern and post-modern poetries Poets of the Millennium, edited by Jerome Rothenberg and Pierre Joris [University of California Press, 1995]) but as a sign of his concern with the "limitation," placed on poets by outer realities and inner inhibitions, that poets must try to overcome. In other words, an issue for poetics gets transformed into an issue of poetic psychology, essentially the drama of every poet, every lyric subject, played out in the book. And the issue of poetics for Blake refers less to the poet and more to the capacity of cleansing the doors of perception of his readers by leading them towards a radical reinterpretation of the world in which they live and which forces them into oppressive compulsions.

What are the aesthetics, or poetics, driving O'Neill's book? It seems to be a poetics of resistance: ". . . like Vendler, I explore the capacity of the aesthetic to resist ideological appropriation" (p. xxv); O'Neill argues that New Historicist "readings, however stimulating, refuse to see a poem as itself an occurrence of a particular kind, one which has an existence which may be resistant to causal explanation" (214).  And it's a poetics of limitation: "A valuable feature shared by many self-conscious poems is the way they explore the limits of poetry" (xix).  It is consequently an aesthetics of elegy and tragedy. (O'Neill's predisposition for elegy emerges in his recent TLS poetry reviews.) The tragic acknowledges the limits of poetry before the greater fact of the "reality" of death; it is tragic that the poet's visionary imagination (e.g., "the Fancy") cannot be realized. Yet the compensation for this loss is a self-consciousness which, in the "heroism" of the great poet, allows for his (and in this book it is "his") transcendence of such pain in the poetic representation of the self as a kind of engine of vision-followed-by-acceptance-of-tragic-reality—in other words, in the image of maturity as heroic-acceptance-of-human-limitation.  (Since the visionary side of Romantic poetry is typically associated with human and social change, according to the aesthetics of this book, Romantic poetry achieves aesthetic success when social change has been rejected as an ideal and a possibility for poetry.)

O'Neill also privileges the ironic and the skeptical for his Romantic poets. And when he speaks of the modernist descendents of the reality-rich Romantics, he values them for their "finesse" and their "honesty"—that is, for their capacity to outwit the depressive implications of the world as tragic while acknowledging that it always already has the upper hand. Again, visionary poetry is seen as an illusion but unfortunately an occupational hazard for poets that the good ones transcend.

Who is the speaking subject of a lyric poem? O'Neill assumes, by and large, the identification of the speaking subject with the poet. Thus the (historical, biographical) poet's concern about vocation becomes that of the poem's speaker. But can we make this assumption except in highly specialized cases? There is a contradiction here: the identification of speaker and poet (e.g., Wordsworth, Shelley) makes the speaker an historical person; yet an anti-historicist like O'Neill would seem to wish to eschew the historical in his speaker. O'Neill's study would be more valuable if he could account for the apparent historical interest of Romantic speakers in the crisis of poetry. (Has he or anyone tested Romanticism for a particular density of preoccupation with the representation of poetry in relation to, say, the Middle Ages, the Early Modern Period, or the Eighteenth Century? How "Romantic" is it?)

And if we were to assume that the representation of self-consciousness ranks high in the poet's preoccupation, how do we define self-consciousness? O'Neill, following in the path of his predecessors Bate, Vendler, et. al., finds in one way or another that the poets question whether or not their poem can stand up to "reality." But there's another kind of self-consciousness in Romanticism, found in the poems of Blake, Mary Robinson, Anna Barbauld, Byron, and, I assume, others as well, that questions the position of the poet in the social scheme of things: is the poet a citizen speaking in the difficult position of "prophet" trying to envision the social reality in which he/she is an element (cf., the Los of The Book of Urizen who makes matters worse before they can get better, or the "poet" in Robinson's "A London Summer Morning" who wakes up to paint the morning along with all the other citizens doing their jobs)? What can poetry do? seems an important question posed by the Romantic poets, and the answers offered are far more interesting and relevant to their tumultuous and revolutionary times than O'Neill's versions of skepticism about poetry and tragic exuberance. That is a highly reductive formula for Romantic poetics, just as reductive as the notion that a poem equals its historical context.

O'Neill, for example, quotes Byron on "poesy":

You know or don't know, that great Bacon saith,

     'Fling up a straw, 'twill show the way the wind blows;'

And such a straw, borne on by human breath,

     Is Poesy, according as the mind glows;

A paper kite, which flies 'twixt life and death,

     A shadow which the onward Soul behind throws:

And mine's a bubble not blown up for praise,

But just to play with, as an infant plays.  (Don Juan, XIV, 8)

This is an instance of one of Byron's "virtuoso exhibitions of disdain for poetry" (93). O'Neill reads Byron saying that "Bacon's sceptical empiricism validates a despairing, exhilarating process of imaginative 'play'" (93). Locking Byron into his formula, O'Neill doesn't consider the possibility that Byron may be taking issue with a poetics of egotistical concern for praise—what would that be? a poetry advertising itself as monumental? praising the King? Perhaps Byron is proposing a poetics based upon play, a poetry of signifiers as a way of calling attention to the mind-forg'd manacles of what Barthes calls mythologies. Perhaps the reference to infant play gestures towards a critique of "maturity" in poetry that in fact closes off from view the multiple realities of the world. Perhaps Byron's poetry-as-bubble ought to recall Barbauld's at the end of "Washing Day" where the soap bubble brings into uneasy conjunction the labor of washing clothes, the sport of children, and the making of poems. Poetry: is it labor or play? Or is there a labor of play?

O'Neill's argument and my response to it, in this regard, restage the eighteenth-century and Romantic debate about the Imagination and the Fancy (particularly as it has come down to us through Coleridge and canonical poetics). From O'Neill's point of view Imagination is the magisterial, synthetic faculty capable of representing tragic acceptance and poetic self-consciousness, and the Fancy flits in immaturity from object to object escaping reality into brilliant Arcadias. A great poet outgrows the Fancy. The history of Romantic criticism in England and the United States from the mid-nineteenth century on reveals a pre-occupation with "maturity" in this sense as a virtue. But Fancy has an inclination to explore other domains, it can be seen as the faculty of visionary poetics—from let us say Blake to Mallarme, the surrealists, the Black Mountain and Beat poets, and the language poets. Other poets besides Blake writing in the aftermath of the French Revolution also exhibit elements of visionary poetics.

What is important in the allusions to the poet or to poetry (e.g., "a poet could not but be gay . . ." or "scatter my words . . . among mankind") is not that the speaker writes poetry with anxiety but that the speaker embodies the sensibilities and drives of a poet (a term continually under scrutiny by poets) in his/her well-formed, civic response to the world. Similarly the Urizenic component of Blake's poetry addresses personal and social resistances to the capacity to envision and empower an ideal democratic citizenry. To write about Romantic poetry as instances of heroic self-consciousness about writing poetry is to shift attention from the poet's primary unsettling—visionary and transformative—concerns with democracy and the "life in things" back into the private, idiosyncratic, neurotic grumblings that everyone ambitious about vocation has. The identification of speaker with poet and the insistance that poems be about poetry and its limitations and capacities leads to strained readings. The Ancient Mariner is "like a poet" (83). Many figures in literature exhibit, in this or that respect, similarities to the artist, but that does not mean that the work rotates around the artist as sun or that the poem is primarily to be read in terms of the anxieties or even the catagories of art. Of the following lines from Wordsworth's "Intimations Ode,"


It is not now as it hath been of yore;—

             
Turn wheresoe'er I may,

                    
By night or day,

The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

O'Neill says: "The lines suggest a writer engaged in concentrated struggle, the stressed 'now' referring to an emotional state and to the verbal apprehension of it occurring in the poem" (46). Again, the "suggestion" of a writer does not mean that the poem is about writing and the poet; nor does "poet" automatically mean one concerned with "awareness of the self" and "elegiac lament." Moreover, O'Neill assumes that the "fineness" of the "Ode" is a sign of its being about poetry as is its "cunning," a notion praised in O'Neill's modern Romantic poems as a sign of courageous and creative adjudication of imagination and reality. The best evidence that the "Ode" is about poetry comes in the lines: "Not for these I raise / The song of thanks and praise." But even here O'Neill claims that these lines "give way to a reliving of 'obstinate questionings'"
(46) (i.e., skepticism) since the latter come next in the poem so that the song of thanks and praise must be qualified and diminished. The 1807 epigraph, paulo majora canamus suggests otherwise: not a diminishment but an extension, further into a visionary poetry (from pastoral to epic). But then in his 1815 epitaph ("The Child is father of the Man . . .") Wordsworth drops the reference to poetry altogether. The problem with O'Neill's reading is two-fold: 1) if the poem is about poetry, it may not be the poetry that O'Neill sees, and 2) it is not clear that Wordsworth means for us to think primarily of poetry at all.

The poet whose life story most precisely recapitulates the growth of O'Neill's poet's mind, who lived a life of allegory, is of course Keats. O'Neill puts it succinctly when he registers Keats's "growth" from the early "To Charles Cowden Clarke" to the preludic lines in The Fall of Hyperion ("When the dream now purposed to rehearse / Be poet's or fanatic's . . .") as from the writing of a "gamesome tyro" to "the work of an anguished master" (182). Maturation follows the trajectory of trivial play to serious tragically-informed self-concern. As has been the case for decades, "To Autumn" expresses the new maturity as acceptance of life in the perfection of a lyric poem. It improves over the odes of spring in that their passion and ego and abstraction are spent or rather absorbed and transcended. Yet, writing in the age of historicism and during the flurry of historicist readings of this apparently ahistorical poem, O'Neill imports the language of resistance: "To Autumn" "refuses to gloss its creator's mood" (201), "has an existence which may be resistant to causal explanation," and, in the third stanza, "refus[es] to take sides, except the side of its own art . . ."
(214); "Caught between the disagreeables of political agitation and personal crisis, the poet reaffirms the 'music' he is able to win from self-transcendence and contemplation" (215). This account narrates a tale for which the poem simply gives no evidence, but it inscribes into the poem itself a motive and a capacity for resisting history and passion—as if "To Autumn" willed a denial of the world around it just as O'Neill wills this poem, in spite of everything we have learned in the past 15 years about Keats's interest in progressive culture and politics, to deny the social world. This, of course, does not mean that one crudely translates the language of the poem into the events of the day; a poem has its own rhythms, its own vocabulary, finally its own domain. But everything in Keats's engagement with the Hunt circle, with Hunt's publications (in particular the Calendar of Nature and its revision The Months) would suggest his openness to his world. One would want to speak less of the poetics of resistances and refusals and more of the poetics of accumulations and inclusions, from the poem's swellings to its final gatherings.

I have tried to sketch Romanticism and the Self-Conscious Poem in enough detail to give clearly my view of its concerns and shortcomings and therefore will not discuss the "Coda" of modernism in detail because its purpose is to reinforce the paradigm in major canonical twentieth-century poets. This section ends with Amy Clampitt's Voyages: A Homage to John Keats, dedicated to Helen Vendler and begotten, as O'Neill observes, by W.J. Bate's biography of Keats. It brings up to date (1985) the version of Keats as quintessential Romantic poet of tragic self-awareness, with its "edgy intimacy between imagination and reality" (272) and its "sadness that the imaginative achievement is in itself powerless to avert tragedy from the author's own life . . ." (274), "maintaining a satisfying balance between affirmation and pathos" (282). And finally, "Clampitt's treatment . . . brings the familiar tragedy alive for her readers" (288). The suite, in its place in O'Neill's book, brings the Romantic self-conscious poem, like a vivid apparition, before us; all that is left is to make this poetic type stand for the "achievement of Romantic poetry" (289). (A more recent book of poems on Keats, Tom Clark's Junkets on a Sad Planet [Black Sparrow Press, 1994], shifts the tragic life story from the center to the periphery so that Keats's poetry reflects less his tragedy and more the visionary explorations and mysteries that absorb but go beyond it.)

What, then, is "Romantic poetry"? It is the six canonical male poets represented by their most canonical poems and discussed in a canonical way. Romantic poetry is closed-form, more-or-less elegiac verse fighting against loss and death with tragic heroism, concerned primarily with the anxieties of the self-as-poet, resisting history and social and erotic passion or at least transcending them, and inspiring modern poets who do the same thing. This, as a generalization, simply is not true; at the very least it leaves out so much of the poetry of the Romantic Period—particularly its visionary intention, its flirtation with open forms, its heterogeneity—that, to paraphrase Rothenberg and Joris on the canon in Modern Poetry, it is like talking about Modern Art without mentioning Cubism and Surrealism, and therefore it excludes or denies the drives behind those movements. Exclusion is what Hunt and Hazlitt accused Wordsworth of doing; Hunt, in The Feast of the Poets (1815), beckons Wordsworth to join him in the city; I would recommend to O'Neill that he read more Blake, and join up with the women poets and John Clare.

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James Chandler, England in 1819: The Politics of Literary Culture and the Case of Romantic Historicism

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James Chandler, England in 1819: The Politics of Literary Culture and the Case of Romantic Historicism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998. xxii + 584. $35.00 (Hdbk; ISBN: 0-226-10108-8).  $21.00 (Pap; ISBN: 0-225-10109-6).

Reviewed by
Stephen C. Behrendt
University of Nebraska

This is a book that many of us would like to have written, for reasons both personal and professional. In particular, those of us who took degrees in the 1960s and early 1970s will recognize much of the volatile cultural milieu that James Chandler describes as having exerted a strong formative influence on him and on his teaching in those years. Those were heady times in many respects, if only because there was, especially on academic campuses, a heightened awareness of the unmistakable historical import of the political and intellectual demonstrations that were taking place on the streets and in the classrooms. To everyone present in those environments, from the most committed activists to those who were nearly impervious to the force of political issues and who wanted nothing more than to attend their classes and transcribe their lecture notes, the performative aspect of all that cultural ferment was inescapable. Everyone knew that these were "historical" times, and that both the nature of history and the ways of recording it were changing before their (and our) eyes. That Chandler appreciated this complex cultural dynamic and incorporated it into his teaching of the British Romantics, then and later, says much about his view of the nature of the teaching/learning dynamic and the place of the teacher/scholar in it.

Many of us "were there," after all, and many of us still think out loud with our students about the relationship between cultural phenomena of our times and those phenomena (including literary ones) of the times we study and teach. I emphasize this at the outset because Chandler does so as well in his book. His important study emerges directly out of the mediated relationship among a committed teacher/scholar, his students, and the complex intellectual problem of looking at a historically distant and culturally different time and place through what are unavoidably end-of-century modern American eyes. Especially for those of us whose approach to literary and cultural studies is strongly influenced by our own sense of the nature, function, and place of "history" in both our personal selves and in the courses we teach and the books we write, England in 1819 stands as a reminder of how much is always at stake in the study of literature, and how slippery and uncertain is the ground that we tread in doing our work. For not only is the past often incorrectly remembered (or reconstructed), it is frequently misreported not merely as one account of the past but as "History"—a systematic construct in which, despite the explicit cautions Aristotle extended in the Poetics, the roles of historian and poet are often blurred and "history" is filtered through the elements of time, place, circumstance, character, and narrative incident that form the working mechanism not of "history" in the sense in which Aristotle understood it, but rather of "poetry." Part of our task then, as readers, students, and teachers, is to disentangle these mixed elements and see them for what they are.

The task is particularly imperative when it comes to history in the modern (i.e., post-Enlightenment) world, for in this period has arisen the modern professional historian who has, in recent years, been joined by his visual-culture counterparts, the photo-journalist and the cinema-journalist. The writing and the reading of history has always been a matter of who is telling the story and who is the audience. From "serious" histories of the American Civil War, for instance, to made-for-television historical reenactments of significant battles and on to full-blown movies on Civil War subjects, history is retold in a variety of materials, but in modern culture the telling of the tale—including dramatic and technological elements entirely outside the historical "facts" (simply recall Gone with the Wind)—exerts perhaps a stronger shaping influence upon what we "know" about the facts than the facts themselves. Why else would news-media accounts of events, for example, have come to be called "stories"? And why else would network television directors think it necessary to preface coverage of natural and social disasters alike with descriptive titles and even theme music?

But surely the actual, historical participants in human events have always understood at some level that they were "actors"—performers—as well as merely individuals embroiled in events that held the potential to shape lives, nations, and entire cultures. How else can we account for the familiar displays of bravado by soldiers marching off to war—or for that matter the inverse phenomenon of resistance that helped define the Viet-Nam era? We like to imagine, in the theory-saturated intellectual culture that preoccupies academe at the end of the twentieth century, that we are among the first to appreciate how complex—and how unavoidably involved—is our relation to history and to the historicizing impulse in our culture. Yet, as England in 1819 compellingly reminds us, we are very far from the first to consider such matters or to direct our actions accordingly. The later Regency period in England, which provides the particular focus for Chandler's study, presents us with one historical moment in which we can begin to appreciate the extent to which not just the cultural and intellectual luminaries of Britain but indeed the populace as a whole felt themselves to be living at a time that was particularly "historical" in a way that had perhaps not been felt—and certainly had not been so widely experienced—at any previous time.

I have begun with these observations in part because the first half of the book devotes so much attention to this very matter of the nature of history and how it is both enacted and recorded. Chandler details the vexed nature of the subject of history by taking us at length through the contrasting models of history and historical methodology proposed by Levi-Strauss and Sartre, and then examining subsequent theories advanced in particular by Paul Veyne and Fredric Jameson. Chandler takes this elaborate route essentially to convince us that the present dilemma in how we think about "history" largely resolves into two alternative models: "history as archeology," which model is a descendant of structuralism, and "New Historicism," which moves away from the broad-field array of related phenomena characterized by structuralist theory and toward a largely non-integrative model of disparate and not-necessarily-linked phenomena. It is important—indeed vital—to determine, Chandler argues, not just which of these models (and its descendants) governs our individual approaches to thinking about—and living and recording—history, but also how these modern theoretical models may be seen to relate to what we can determine about the practical perceptions and intentions of those writers and thinkers we associate with British Romanticism generally and with the year 1819 in particular.

This is perhaps the place to observe that England in 1819 shares with much of the scholarly discourse at this century's end the tendency to wear its erudition rather visibly, even ostentatiously. Perhaps it is the fact that the sheer volume of published criticism and theory is so daunting that accounts for more and more of us to feel we need to filter our insights through the vocabulary and idiom of others: it is no longer unusual to find ourselves making a point by saying that our own thought is related to "what Critic A has written about Critic B's observation that Author C may have been thinking of Author D's comment when (s)he wrote that . . . ." That is, with so much secondary and tertiary discourse "out there," we may be finding ourselves compelled (like the students we instruct) to demonstrate that we have done our homework, that we have not "missed" anything. The endemic risk in all such filtering and layering, of course, is, on one hand, that our own insights (not to mention our own voices) get lost in the mix, and, on the other hand, that we may make ourselves appear surprisingly unoriginal. One obvious consequence for our readers, of course, is that we make their task unnecessarily difficult. Chandler is certainly not unique in engaging in this sort of now fashionable layering of discourse, particularly in the book's first half, but neither is his fine work immune to its consequences for his readers.

One clear strength of England in 1819 is the manner in which Chandler details what he—in common with William Hazlitt and other Romantic writers—terms "the spirit of the age." Chandler makes one of the best arguments to date for recognizing in the lives and works of English writers active in 1819 the common consciousness of their being active participants not just in quotidian experience but also in that larger, more formalized, and more performative pageant which they understood as "history." Thus there is to be observed in Percy Shelley's famous yet generally under-valued sonnet which lends its title to Chandler's book—and which Chandler obligingly makes the subject of an extended analysis in his book's introductory section—a real sense of how the poetic text not only situates itself as a part of history but also commemorates its larger identity as history. This self-reflexive and historically-conscious nature characterizes other important works from the period which receive detailed examination in the book's second half, in part to isolate these same textual and cultural phenomena and in part to demonstrate what a pervasive element of the intellectual climate this new "historical" sense had become by 1819.

Not entirely surprising is the fact that Shelley and Walter Scott receive the most attention. Shelley's fascination with the nature of language within history—and indeed with language's ability to reformulate if not entirely to transcend history and historical circumstances—is already well documented in Romantic criticism, and it was no surprise that already some two decades ago poststructuralist theory found in Shelley's works such a favorable field on which to pitch a variety of battles about what language (including Shelley's language) was and was not capable of accomplishing. Scott is a more interesting case, though, for his historical novels often raise the question of whether individual "cases" (Chandler focuses particularly on Redgauntlet as example) may be understood to stand for and therefore to describe general patterns in society and culture. For as Chandler points out, if the historical novel (with which Scott has traditionally been closely associated) is a symptomatic development of the period of 1815–25, "the extreme pressure on the form of the case is likewise symptomatic of this new genre as the narrative [Redgauntlet] in which Scott most evidently reflected on his own practice as a pioneering historical novelist" (221). But Chandler goes on to show how in Redgauntlet, as he puts it, Scott links "the idiom of 'the case' with the idiom of 'the cause'" (222), the particular and topical with the universal and "historical."

This is merely one example, intended here to suggest—if not to stand for—the intellectual assumptions and critical/theoretical methodology that inform England in 1819. Having set out in the first part of the book, subtitled "The 'Historical Situation' of Romanticism," to relate end-of-the-twentieth-century poststructuralist historicism to what the later Romantics (and emerging Victorians) regarded as "the spirit of the age," Chandler turns in the second major section, "Reading England in 1819," to the cases of Scott (already mentioned), Byron, Keats, Irving (lending an international, transatlantic dimension), and Percy Shelley. This second part aims to show us how the historical conditions of later Romanticism (and of 1819 in particular) relate to the ways in which these several male writers represent history—and therefore an awareness of "historicity"—at the level of written text. Chandler explores the related subjects of the contemporary "moral mechanics" (Chandler's term) of Don Juan, the temporal and topical historical agency that drives Scott's historical novels, the external (or "exoteric," to borrow Percy Shelley's term) context for Keats's odes of 1819, the specifically temporal political influence of English writers on Americans as revealed in the case of Washington Irving, and (in two chapters) the work of Percy Shelley, the writer who provides, not surprisingly, the most interesting and fertile ground for Chandler's analysis.

This second section builds upon the notion of the "case"
(which paradigm echoes the sort of "case studies" that have long provided the foundation for systematic social scientific inquiry) as a sort of documentary indicator of abstract principles. In adopting this model—and especially in making it appear to be a particular creation of the later Romantic historical consciousness—Chandler in some respects dismisses the critical view that early novels may themselves be understood as fictionalized "cases" grounded in familiar contemporary life and experience in which authors present moral, political, and social or economic arguments, arguments which readers, in turn, both recognize and interpret as part of their own activities of reading and cognition. While Chandler is certainly correct in arguing that the acute sense of the historicity of literary activity is characteristic of later Romantics like Percy Shelley or Scott, that sensibility is on balance perhaps not so entirely unique to, or original with, those authors and their times as this study clearly wishes us to believe.

Indeed, if there is any significant fault to be found with England in 1819—and one instinctively wishes not to find fault with so sweeping and ambitious a project, and indeed almost fears doing so—it lies in the relative selectivity (almost exclusivity) that has governed the choice of examples. While Percy Shelley, Scott, Byron, Irving, and Moore (who is at once "featured" in a mid-book interlude and condescendingly cast there as a "mediocre hero,"
introduced it seems to illustrate through his apparent deficiencies the comparative excellences of others), it is tempting to wonder how Chandler's thesis might fare with other writers whose work in and around 1819 may not "fit" quite so neatly the paradigm around which his argument (and his book) is structured. One wonders, in particular, about the telling absence from the picture of women writers. There is Felicia Hemans, for instance, whose Tales and Historical Scenes, in Verse appeared in 1819 and whose treatment of the relationship of past and present in the "cases" of protagonists who are at once historically remote and circumstantially topical reveals a complex and sophisticated awareness of how writing (and therefore texts) may constitute history. There are, too, widely-known and influential (if traditionally disparaged) women novelists like Barbara Hofland, whose numerous studies of the consequences for families of the unexpected deaths of the husbands/fathers provide other "cases" in which history is "constructed" (I use the qualifying quotation marks deliberately) in ways that are related to—albeit not identical with—the procedures of the canonical male writers who are featured prominently in England in 1819.

Again and again in England in 1819, Chandler properly and correctly reminds us that much of the misreading of Romantic literature, culture, and history that has occurred over the past century and three quarters can be attributed to the individual and collective failure of scholars, critics, and teachers to "read with the grain of Romantic texts" (p. 138; my emphases). As the book amply demonstrates, going back and doing just that—reading with the grain rather than against it—produces quite different results. We have all grown accustomed in the later twentieth century to the phenomenon (in English departments and others) of scholar/teachers who have done their work in accelerated graduate programs that have demanded ever more of the graduate students who already do—or soon will—populate the ranks of teachers, critics, and publishing scholars. In an environment in which it routinely expected that aspiring professionals digest primary texts in literature and theory as well as secondary works that address them—while also teaching, taking courses, dissertating, and publishing—it is scarcely surprising that much of the profession (from top to bottom and side to side) has engaged in intellectual as well as methodological "quick fixes." England in 1819 implicitly takes many of us to task for having opted—whether out of sheer convenience or for the best of intellectual motives—for bringing to our reading and teaching of British Romanticism quick fixes that betray a less-than-accurate historical consciousness. That omission, he argues, has seriously compromised not only our reading of major (and minor) Romantic texts, but also our understanding of their authors as artists, as thinkers, as theorists, and as historians. Chandler's book will take us a long way toward setting that record straight, for it provides a useful alternative paradigm and working methodology. And if this means that we shall all have to work harder for the foreseeable future, that seems a reasonable—and even a generous—motive for laboring to see, to en-vision, with more clear-sighted historical eyes the figures (and their cultural circumstances) that have been for so many years the focus of our efforts and of our discourse.

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Thomas Pfau, Wordsworth's Profession: Form, Class, and the Logic of Early Romantic Cultural Production and John Rieder, Wordsworth's Counterrevolutionary Turn: Community, Virtue, and Vision in the 1790s.

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Thomas Pfau, Wordsworth's Profession: Form, Class, and the Logic of Early Romantic Cultural Production. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997. xii + 454 pp. illus. $49.50 (Hdbk; ISBN: 0-8047-2902-6).
John Rieder, Wordsworth's Counterrevolutionary Turn: Community, Virtue, and Vision in the 1790s. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1997. 273 pp. $41.50 (Hdbk; ISBN: 0-87413-610-5).

Reviewed by
Margaret Russett
University of Southern California

The theses of John Rieder's and Thomas Pfau's recent books present striking parallels, a fact that reflects at least as much on the theoretical climate both critics inhabit as it does on their shared topical focus. Although it may be unsurprising to find similarities between two studies of Wordsworth—each of which, moreover, concentrates on a limited number of works from early in the poet's career—more notable are the ways each positions itself as post-New Historicism, even while insisting on the rigorous articulation of historical context. For both critics, this stance involves a renewed attention to the category of the aesthetic, defined not as the evasion or mystification of history but as the precise and determinate response to questions posed at the level of material circumstance. The cultivation of aesthetic (i.e., "literary") experience, argue Pfau and Rieder, constitutes the particular ideological project of the middle class in its late-eighteenth century period of consolidation. What Pfau calls the "virtual commodity" of "unselfconscious aesthetic interest" (1, 65) surfaces in Rieder's account as, more simply, the "literary community held together . . . by poetry itself" (Rieder 216–17). The construction of literature as an autonomous domain thus solves a "problem of cohesion or social totality" which (Rieder 46), because it cannot be addressed by the available modes of political representation, instances the modern concept of class itself.

Both Rieder and Pfau, as this brief summary implies, regard their books as contributing to the current critical investigation of literature as a discipline. Influenced most immediately by John Guillory's analysis of cultural capital, these critics understand literature as a mode of production that, to paraphrase Wordsworth, both calls forth and communicates a shared identity through the refinement of what Pfau and Rieder variously call "sensibility" or "sympathy." The middle-class reader participates, as Pfau explains, in

an efficient yet fundamentally unconscious collective practice...[whose] vernacular, formal-aesthetic discriminations absorb the cognitive potential of its subjects (poet and audience) by the very practice that defines them as a community. (55)

"Community" and "class" are characterized in Pfau's argument as imaginary categories with real social efficacy, and less as the material bases of aesthetic production than as its telos. To regard the characteristically Romantic attenuation of reference as a form of false consciousness is thus, as both Pfau and Rieder make clear in their respective critiques of Romantic New Historicism, to miss the more telling historical point. In this respect as in others, Rieder and Pfau are representative and shrewd exemplars of a critical project that weds the materialist and political concerns of New Historicism to the theoretical self-consciousness against which, in part, its energies were defined. Yet their sophistication and theoretical range is linked, in a curious way, to a renewed focus on some of most traditional themes in Wordsworth criticism: the performance of community; the threat of alienation; the paradoxical relation of sympathy to solitude.

In Pfau, these themes emerge gradually from a genetic argument that aspires to locate Wordsworth within a broad canvas of momentous cultural developments, including landscape painting and tourism, educational reform and rhetorical instruction, and political theory from Reynolds and Burke to Malthus. Wordsworth's Profession is, in all respects, a large book: ambitious, learned, and formidably dense. Pfau typically frames his discussions by invoking a topos of current scholarly concern, such as picturesque landscape or the discourse of the sublime, and raising the analysis to a higher level of abstraction. In this method, Pfau emulates Hegel, whose Phenomenology of Spirit is probably the most important intellectual context for an argument that often seems more directly engaged with the state of contemporary criticism than with producing a new reading of Wordsworth. The result is a book more notable for range than local nuance, and for synthesis than novelty.

Wordsworth's Profession is divided into three long sections, "Description," "Instruction," and "Vocation." The first section begins by surveying the evolution of eighteenth-century landscape painting and locodescriptive poetry, with the intent of demonstrating "a systematic relationship between the emergence of the Picturesque . . . and the gradual emergence of 'class' as the conscious reflection of a social identity that has been produced rather than inherited" (21). Picturesque description presents a particularly diagrammatic example of cultural capital, with its "transfiguration of spatial vistas into communal prospects" (28). From guidebooks and familiar topographical poems such as "Cooper's Hill" and The Seasons, Pfau arrives at Wordsworth's early poems Descriptive Sketches and An Evening Walk, and concludes the section with a reading of "Tintern Abbey." Generously illustrated and impressive in its command of these interrelated genres, Pfau's discussion presumes rather than rehearses the kind of detailed analysis to be found in such studies as John Barrell's The Idea of Landscape and the Sense of Place (Cambridge University Press, 1972) or Ann Bermingham's Landscape and Ideology (University of California Press, 1986). The itinerary, as well, will be familiar to readers of Alan Liu's Wordsworth: The Sense of History (Stanford University Press, 1989). Pfau's contribution consists of his emphasis on the way descriptive practices construct the landscape as "virtual reality" through "the gradual disestablishment of nature's materiality" (65). Pfau makes this argument with the assistance of Kant, whose account of the constitutive "dissimulation of empirical and social reference by the aesthetic" also propels a critique of "the romance of Enlightenment retold in vestigial form by contemporary historicism" (105, 122).

Parts two and three, "Instruction" and "Vocation," center on Lyrical Ballads and The Prelude respectively. In his second section, Pfau surveys a number of late eighteenth-century treatises on education, focusing especially on Andrew Bell and Mary Wollstonecraft, to show how they conflate "the technologies of instruction [with] those of surveillance" (Pfau 152). Surveillance becomes self-culture for the reader of Lyrical Ballads, in which "misguided, obtuse, and overly confident" narrators dramatize the need "to dismantle the terms of any received cultural and interpretive authority" (184, 198). Community, then, is to be achieved through the "felicitous performance" of interpretation, a task made inescapable by the discontinuities within and among the poems that make up the collection (259). Pfau's final section situates The Prelude within the traditions of public discourse and the man of letters, contending that the poem's "fixation on a self" is the epiphenomenon of "an affect-based general rhetoric" inherited from Burke, Reynolds, and Hume (301–02). He concludes by suggesting how "the proper aesthetic management" of a representative subjectivity conflicts with the "macroeconomic specter of reproduction" announced by Malthus and thematized in Book 7 of The Prelude (340).

Consistently intelligent and painstakingly argued, Pfau's analysis is gauged much more toward elaborating the intellectual contexts of Wordsworth's poetry than toward producing original close readings. Pfau's comments on peripheral figures like Malthus or Wollstonecraft often convey a greater impact than his analyses of Wordsworth, which run along generally well-established lines. His account of Book 7, for example, aims to locate the ideological motivations for the sublime, but proceeds in terms considerably indebted to Mary Jacobus's discussion of gender and personification in Romanticism, Writing, and Sexual Difference (Clarendon Press, 1989). His fine discussion of the Lyrical Ballads is qualified by a few instances of tone-deafness—as when he claims that, for the narrator of "Simon Lee," "closure is achieved in a simple moral syllogism: an act of charity warrants gratitude"—or oversight, as when he refers to "Lines Left upon a Seat in a Yew-Tree" as the first item in the 1798 collection (220, 184). Minor slips like these may weigh more heavily in so imposing a book than they would in one of more modest pretensions. Pfau's prose makes stringent demands on the reader, and his frequent iterations make the argument seem more predictable than its breadth of reference warrants.

In this respect Rieder's book provides a foil as well as a complement. A conventional monograph in form, Wordsworth's Counterrevolutionary Turn devotes four of its seven chapters to "close readings of major poems written in the crucial years from 1795 to 1798," including the Salisbury Plain poems, The Borderers, The Ruined Cottage, and "Tintern Abbey" (90). Rieder is disarmingly frank in acknowledging that his "project's limitations are no doubt obvious" (221). This tight focus, however, conduces both to clarity of outline and acuity of insight. Less sophisticated a sociologist than Pfau, Rieder is (as his name promises!) the more venturesome reader.

The title of Wordsworth's Counterrevolutionary Turn may be unfortunate, suggesting as it does a set of New Historicist themes that have become commonplace in the last decade or so. Rieder does in fact share the New Historicism's sometimes doctrinaire emphasis on "class perspective," even while his own account of the fissures within that perspective throws some doubt on the adequacy of class as an explanatory category. He also accepts the view that Wordsworth's poetry becomes progressively depoliticized as the poet's "mature literary practice" evolves, but argues cogently against the synonymy of literature and power, suggesting that poetry exerts its influence "much less by repressing desires than by gratifying them" (20, 90, 27). For example, as Rieder points out by surveying a number of late eighteenth-century poems whose titles resemble the "elaborate and specific" "Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798," the argument that Wordsworth's poem evades reference fails to account for "the conventions of touristic meditation" (25). More tellingly, this argument involves a "theoretical error": such analyses impose a premature

opposition between referentiality and repression, whereas the detour along which the poem leads Wordsworth's social and political aims seems . . . not to derive its power from suppressing the social but rather from actively constructing a particular kind of social body. (25)

That social body, most vividly imagined in "Tintern Abbey," is a community of readers, paradoxically represented by the speaker's visionary solitude (218). It is Rieder's project to explicate that poignant contradiction, first by examining the versions of community posited in late eighteenth-century political writing, and then by tracing the progress of Wordsworth's gradual movement away from this tradition.

Rieder's first three chapters situate Wordsworth within two major contemporary debates, the interpretation of the French Revolution and criticism of the Poor Laws. At times unfocused, these chapters are nonetheless useful not only for establishing the historical basis of Rieder's own argument but for further enriching our sense of the intricate ways in which Wordsworth's writing does and does not correspond to the dominant discourses of his time. Following an introduction in which Rieder surveys recent scholarship and outlines his thesis, Chapter Two focuses on A Letter to the Bishop of Llandaff to show how, in the republican discourse Wordsworth inherits, the concept of community is riven by the theoretical status of property, which "both ties people together and sets them against one another" (42). Wordsworth's position is thus "marked in contradictory fashion by the class division it straddles" (43). This context leads Rieder to suggest that Wordsworth's political shift cannot be explained as a simple move from radical to conservative, but corresponds to "different paradigms of social cohesion": roughly speaking, force versus sympathy (45). His third chapter pursues this thread by scrutinizing the figure of the pauper in the Poor-Law debates and in Wordsworth's poems "The Old Cumberland Beggar" and "Simon Lee," of which Rieder comments that the appeal to the reader "represents the gap between natural feeling and sympathetically constituted, healthy community" (74). A final section of the chapter examines the motif of indolence in "Resolution and Independence," less as the index of a psychological problem than as the sign of Wordsworth's utopianism, a "providential economy [that] weds the leisure of the middle or upper classes to the noncalculating improvidence of the poor" (82). The incompatible postures of virtuous action and passive election ultimately propel Wordsworth toward the ethos of distant or "vicarious" sympathy that Rieder associates with literature as such.

The remainder of the book adheres strictly to formal analysis and textual history, treating its four major texts as stages in Wordsworth's development of a properly literary alternative to his political dilemma. Chapter Four shows how, as Salisbury Plain became Adventures on Salisbury Plain, Wordsworth de-emphasized the narrator's republican oratory to focus on the self-consciousness of his characters and the community they form through story-telling. Chapter Five reads The Borderers as a "philosophic engagement with the theme of the social contract" (108). Rieder is especially penetrating in his account of how theatricality contaminates all hypotheses of authentic community, so that society becomes inextricable from legal violence. The following chapter, on The Ruined Cottage, makes thoughtful use of textual scholarship to argue that, as all the poem's represented social relationships (including the bond between Margaret and the Pedlar) fail or prove inadequate, Wordsworth substitutes for them a "pleasurable relationship between the poet and the reader" that nonetheless remains haunted by Margaret's exploitation (166, 184). Rieder's final chapter on "Tintern Abbey" both summarizes his thesis and offers an illuminating perspective on this exhaustively-discussed poem. Rieder affiliates "Tintern Abbey" with the rural retirement topos—represented here by Horace's second Epode as well as John Thelwall's Poems, Chiefly Written in Retirement—to show how, by radicalizing the stance of withdrawal, Wordsworth achieves a vision of liberty as purified literary ritual. The problem Wordsworth sets himself, Rieder contends, is not how to establish continuity with his past self; it is to "formulat[e] his role in the grand historical drama" (217).

A brief conclusion argues for the historical importance of Wordsworth's answer as the originating moment of literature in its modern, disciplinary sense. Rieder also outlines a case for his own method of analysis, presenting it as an alternative to both reception history and the New Historicist "reclamation of the repressed other" (226). As Rieder suggests, "the attempt to specify the real things that radiate in so many eccentric ways from a poetic composition cannot work backward so as to make the poem into the answer that the things pose as a question" (227). One might respond that this critique, entirely convincing in itself, merely restates the traditional defense of literary autonomy in a more politically astute and self-conscious guise. Thus while scholars of Wordsworth and British Romanticism certainly have much to learn from both Rieder's and Pfau's careful scholarship and critical subtlety, the broader significance of these two books may lie in their value as correctives rather than in their proposals, explicit or implied, for new directions in Romantic studies.

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