Romanticism and the Rise of the Mass Public

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Cambridge University Press, Feb 1, 2007 - Literary Criticism
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Dramatic changes in the reading public and literary market in early nineteenth-century England not only altered the relationship between poet and reader, these changes prompted marked changes in conceptions of the poetic text, literary reception, and authorship. With the decline of patronage, the rise of the novel and the periodical press, and the emergence of the mass reading public, poets could no longer assume the existence of an audience for poetry. Andrew Franta examines how the reconfigurations of the literary market and the publishing context transformed the ways poets conceived of their audience and the forms of poetry itself. Through readings of Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Hemans, and Tennyson, and with close attention to key literary, political, and legal debates, Franta proposes a unique reading of Romanticism and its contribution to modern conceptions of politics and publicity.

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Contents

Wordsworths audience problem
55
Keats and the review aesthetic
76
Shelley and the politics of political poetry
111
The art of printing and the law of libel
137
The right of private judgment
165

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Page 143 - The breath whose might I have invoked in song Descends on me; my spirit's bark is driven, Far from the shore, far from the trembling throng Whose sails were never to the tempest given; The massy earth and sphered skies are riven! I am borne darkly, fearfully, afar; Whilst burning through the inmost veil of Heaven, The soul of Adonais, like a star, Beacons from the abode where the Eternal are.
Page 145 - Poetry is not like reasoning, a power to be exerted according to the determination of the will. A man cannot say, "I will compose poetry." The greatest poet even cannot say it; for the mind in creation is as a fading coal, which some invisible influence, like an inconstant wind, awakens to transitory brightness...
Page 113 - My spirit is too weak— mortality Weighs heavily on me like unwilling sleep, And each imagined pinnacle and steep Of godlike hardship tells me I must die Like a sick eagle looking at the sky. Yet 'tis a gentle luxury to weep That I have not the cloudy winds to keep, Fresh for the opening of the morning's eye.
Page 163 - Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public; to forbid this, is to destroy the freedom of the press: but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous, or illegal, he must take the consequences of his own temerity.
Page 58 - Why were ye not awake ? But ye were dead To things ye knew not of, — were closely wed To musty laws lined out with wretched rule And compass vile : so that ye taught a school Of dolts to smooth, inlay, and clip, and fit, Till, like the certain wands of Jacob's wit, Their verses tallied. Easy was the task : A thousand handicraftsmen wore the mask Of Poesy.
Page 148 - His very words are instinct with spirit; each is as a spark, a burning atom of inextinguishable thought; and many yet lie covered in the ashes of their birth, and pregnant with a lightning which has yet found no conductor.
Page 86 - O reader! had you in your mind Such stores as silent thought can bring, O gentle reader! you would find A tale in everything.

About the author (2007)

Andrew Franta is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Utah.

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