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Showing posts from October, 2011

Landscape and Counterscape

Jacqueline Labbe's work on Charlotte Smith is truly excellent, and I've always found it among the most lucid and agile writing on female Romantic literature. Lecturing on her 1807 (posthumous) textBeachy Head this week, and thinking about its many voices and voiced positions, therefore, it was reassuring to read Labbe suggesting 'in this poem Smith preserves a persona reliant on a multiplied sense of self; characterized by a keen awareness of the suitability of voice, tone, self-construction, self-placement'.* As I was already thinking about Beachy Head in terms of pastoral, and then in terms of the eighteenth-century prospect poem, what began to coalesce in my head was something in terms of position, genre and landscape.

Smith's assertive opening - 'on thy stupendous summit, rock sublime!...I would recline' - claims immediately the visual authority of the prospect poem: a form, often interleaved with the sublime, which surveys a landscape in a panoramic fas…

The Location of Pleasure in Sidney's Defence

Recently been reading Sidney's Defence of Poesy as part of a foundation course on poetry and history. It all seemed so simple at the time: a grand tour through some of the great historical manifestos which defined poetry's place in their cultures (Sidney, Pope, Shelley, Pound), starting with the Renaissance 'sugar-coated pill' theory of literature. To teach and delight! What could be easier?

Sadly, as is frequently the case, these theoretical texts are noticeably more complex when you root around outside their quotability. I've done my best to wrench the Defence into a self-consistent and relatively easy shape for the first-year undergraduate lecture, but - for myself - the terms wouldn't settle into a straightforward pattern. Perhaps because I did spend a bit of the early summer thinking of pleasure and utility in Shakespeare's sonnets (this is probably the best, or at least most coherent, of my four stabs at reading), I was particularly interested in the …


It has been several months since I've posted anything. There's a few good reasons for that: I've been enjoying my first full summer in Dublin, working on a chapter about Keats and have just finished a 10,000 word article on John Donne and the body. I've also been to Albania!

However, I hope to be up-and-running again. I also see that Google have overhauled the whole interface, so I've given Maddalo a shiny new look.