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Revisionary Gleam

Revisionary Gleam: De Quincey, Coleridge and the High Romantic Argument

Daniel Sanjiv Roberts
Volume: 36
Copyright Date: 2000
Edition: 1
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Revisionary Gleam
    Book Description:

    This study includes much new information on Thomas De Quincey and his critical engagement with Coleridge, Wordsworth, Burke, Kant and others. The author subtly and convincingly brings overlooked dimensions of De Quincey’s politics to the fore, and examines essays often ignored. The impressive reading of the Liverpool circle and the 1803 Diary should lead to reassessments of this period in De Quincey’s development.

    eISBN: 978-1-84631-393-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Textual Note and Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xv-xxii)
  6. 1 ‘A Man Darkly Wonderful’: Coleridgean Reorientations in De Quincey Criticism
    (pp. 1-30)

    De Quincey’s relationship with Coleridge has often been viewed in the critical tradition as a secondary aspect of his relationship to Wordsworth. A fairly typical reaffirmation of this tradition of biographical interpretation may be taken from a recent article on De Quincey’s relation to the ‘Wordsworth-Coleridge ethos’:

    Coleridge, with his interest in dreams, fantasies, and ‘facts of mind’, was his more natural forerunner, but when De Quincey ran away from Manchester Grammar School in 1802, his first urge was to go to Grasmere; and when, having resisted it, he wrote to Wordsworth a year later, his feeling for Coleridge emerged...

  7. 2 ‘Like the Ghost in Hamlet’: Radical Politics and Revisionary Interpretation
    (pp. 31-70)

    De Quincey’sRecollections of the Lakes and the Lake Poets, as David Wright in his introduction to the Penguin edition notes, ‘is a curiously amorphous literary classic. There is no generally agreed title or canon. Not only does the text of different editions vary, but so does the contents-list’ (W, p. 26). The collection and popular publication of the ‘Lake papers’ from the ongoing politico-literary reminiscing indulged by De Quincey inTait’srepresents a selective editorial process supposedly initiated by De Quincey in the second volume of hisSelections Grave and Gay.¹ Yet De Quincey’s ‘edition’ of these papers places...

  8. 3 Revolutionary Joy: De Quincey’s Discovery of Lyrical Ballads
    (pp. 71-112)

    De Quincey’s early reading ofLyrical Balladshas widely been hailed as a germinal event in his literary development. Biographers and critics have focused on De Quincey’s astonishing recognition, at the age of fifteen, of Wordsworth as the predominant poetic figure of his age. By the age of seventeen, De Quincey had declared to Wordsworth his unsurpassed admiration for ‘those two enchanting volumes’ of the second edition ofLyrical Balladsand, in 1834, over three decades on, he still regarded his discovery ofLyrical Balladsas ‘the greatest event in the unfolding of my own mind’ (W, p. 33).¹ The...

  9. 4 The Pains of Growth: Language and Cultural Politics
    (pp. 113-152)

    The focus ofLyrical Balladson recovering an appropriate language for poetic discourse from the spoken language of ‘low and rustic life’ was seen by early reviewers as the indication of an implicit anti-institutionalism espoused by Wordsworth and Coleridge against the elitist neoclassical idea of poetic diction. This challenge has been related to the linguistic theories promoted during the 1790s by the radical John Horne Tooke, whose highly influential work,EΠEA ΠTEROENTA or the Diversions of Purley—better known in its second edition published in 1798 by Joseph Johnson (also a publisher to the early Wordsworth and Coleridge)—was familiar...

  10. 5 Power and Knowledge: English Nationalism and the Mediation of Kant in England
    (pp. 153-196)

    Coleridge’s influence on De Quincey is nowhere more evident than in the latter’s reading of Kant and of the German literature and philosophy in general. De Quincey’s exposure of Coleridge’s German plagiarisms has been instrumental in drawing attention to this aspect of their common interests, their rare early recognition and knowledge of the importance of the German idealist philosophers and Kant for their age. As De Quincey pointed out in 1834, Coleridge’s now infamous plagiarism of his derivation of the identity of subject and object from Schelling in theBiographia‘could in prudence have been risked only by relying too...

  11. 6 De Quincey as Critic: Politics of Style and Representation of Wordsworth
    (pp. 197-260)

    De Quincey’s literary criticism has attracted a good deal of attention in our century, having had the advantage of collection in the notable editions of Helen Darbyshire, John Jordan, and Frederick Burwick among others.¹ Numerous studies of this aspect of De Quincey’s writings have appeared, ranging from full-length surveys of his critical thought to specific articles on the more famous essays such as ‘On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth’.² Yet De Quincey himself did little to establish his own reputation as a critic, scattering his critical wisdom into essays on a variety of topics, and then dispersing such...

  12. Conclusion Visions and Revisions: New Directions in De Quincey Studies
    (pp. 261-268)

    Despite the ‘death of the author’ proclaimed by some literary theorists, it is clear that criticism of De Quincey at least is flourishing to judge by the several single-author studies that have appeared within the last decade. What has changed, certainly, is the extent to which authorial compulsion tends to be implicated in the wider cultural arena even while authorship remains a basic tenet of critical practice. De Quincey’s case is the more telling on account of the journalistic context in which he operated, with little hope until towards the end of his life of collecting his works. The late...

  13. Appendix A Three Uncollected Coleridgean Marginalia From De Quincey
    (pp. 269-282)
  14. Appendix B ‘Lessons of the French Revolution’
    (pp. 283-288)
  15. Appendix C ‘To William Tait, Esquire’
    (pp. 289-292)
  16. Works Cited
    (pp. 293-304)
  17. Index
    (pp. 305-311)