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Reinventing Allegory

by Theresa M. Kelley

Taking her cue from postmodern interest in allegory as a vehicle for theory and metafiction, Theresa M. Kelley asks how and why allegory has survived, despite the influential Romantic critique of it as outmoded and artificial. In this wide-ranging study of allegory in theory and literary practice from the late Renaissance to the present, she offers a surprising answer to these questions: that allegory has survived the last four hundred years by redirecting the newly dominant modes of realism and empiricism towards its own, quite different, ends. In this context Romanticism represents the pivot of allegory's survival. Cut loose from its early theological system of referents, allegory has proved its strength especially when it persists against against well-defined odds: not only in the age of Romanticism, but also in the late Renaissance, the seventeenth century and the Neoclassical period, the Victorian era, and the postmodern present day.

Contents: 1. Introduction; 2. Allegory, Phantasia and Spenser; 3. 'Material phantasms' and 'allegorical fancies'; 4. Allegorical Persons; 5. Romantic Ambivalences I; 6. Romantic ambivalences II; 7. J. M. W. Turner's 'Allegoric shapes'; 8. Allegory and Victorian realism; 9. Conclusion.

1997    384 pp.
0521432073      Hardback        $54.95