Beginning with an examination of some of the ways in which allusion was conceptualized in the eighteenth century, this chapter focuses on verbal literary allusion, which exists on the allusive spectrum between frank plagiarism at the one extreme and echo at the other. Close reading of poems by Alexander Pope (the different versions of the Dunciad), William Collins (“Ode on the Poetical Character”), and Thomas Gray (“Ode on the Spring” and “The Progress of Poesy”) demonstrates some ways in which eighteenth-century poets used the figure of allusion to articulate meaning, and to negotiate the writer’s relation with poetic contemporaries and forebears. Allusion tests the reader’s powers of recognition and invites the reader’s participation; this chapter explores some opportunities for poetic obfuscation or clarification that the trope offered to both satiric and lyric authors, and some possibilities and implications of the poet’s, or editor’s, or poet-editor’s explanatory and interpretative commentary.
This article discusses the American constitutional elegy. It argues that American national difference in literature can be tracked in the terms of its engagement with specifically American constitutional principles, concentrating on the national period, beginning in the late eighteenth century with the Revolutionary War and sketching the story up to the present day. It then returns to the great theme of elegy as a flexible form and its practices under persistent self-scrutiny. All choral poetry carries with it an association with the choruses of ancient, especially Athenian, tragedy and thus with the common understanding that the chorus speaks as or on behalf of a democratic citizenry. Marilyn Hacker has written a ‘constitutional elegy’ in the great American tradition, a tradition that continues to challenge our principled commitment to the legal and symbolic bonds of ‘adjacent difference’ in a rights-based national polity.
Anne K. Mellor
This article addresses the female-authored elegy. By far the greatest number of elegies penned by women between 1660 and 1834 confront the loss of a dearly beloved family member or friend. Additionally, it describes Mary Chudleigh's three elegies at length because they provide a brilliant representation of the emotional continuum upon which other female elegists map the work of grieving. At the end of the eighteenth century, the female-authored elegy underwent a significant literary development. In the hands of its most skilled practitioners — Charlotte Smith, Helen Maria Williams, Mary Robinson, Letitia Landon, and Felicia Hemans — the poetic elegy became an exploration. The female-authored elegies functioned on occasion as a vehicle of culturally repressed sexual desire. Many of them are more specific in their political critique, taking the occasion to support particular parties, policies or public figures.
Mark L. Kamrath
Charles Brockden Brown, who edited three periodicals between 1799 and 1809, used his experience as a novelist to engage readers on important cultural issues. His periodicals became increasingly political. Brown’s “Annals of Europe and America” document historical events, his capacity as a novelist to write “history,” and his status as an ironic historian. In assessing Napoleonic rule and British expansion, he develops a self-conscious method that also informs his inquiry into American events. He sympathetically renders oppressed others in India, comments ironically on motives for exploiting the American west, and interrogates political intrigue in the 1808 Republican nomination process. With developing awareness of the constructed, contingent nature of history, Brown came to understand political self-interest, power and imperialism, and American exceptionalism relative to that of Europe. As in his novels, he imaginatively and provocatively employed genre conventions of the day to represent the past and critically reflect on the present.
Most eighteenth-century texts appeared without the author’s proper name on the title page. This absence could signal a writer’s modesty or scurrility, or the absence could result from various forms of suppression that modern attribution studies have done much to reverse. However, anonymity and pseudonymity were also deliberate gestures prompting readers to distance authorship from biography or to differentiate fiction as a conceptual category from truth and lies. Authors including Alexander Pope, Daniel Defoe, and Frances Burney purposefully omitted their names to complicate textual ownership and copyright, manipulate market conditions, or pursue ethical questions. Famous authors like Samuel Johnson and Laurence Sterne made open secrets of their anonymity, collapsing the apparent need to sign a name to make a name. When the authorial name becomes a counter rather than the simple solution to a puzzle, even signing a proper name—“onymity”—is revealed as a strategic authorial subject position.
M. O. Grenby
This essay investigates the conservative, loyalist fiction published in Britain during the French Revolution and its aftermath. A substantial number and a wide variety of these novels were published: long and short, propagandistic and philosophical, for adults and children and by obscure and well-known authors. The essay identifies and analyses the principal structures and themes of anti-Jacobin fiction, and closely examines a representative sample. It assesses their contribution to the ‘war of ideas’ and considers how they fit into larger histories of the novel.
Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road (2006) and Chilean artist Demian Schopf’s photographic exhibits embody the Baroque’s notorious contradictory nature: the baroque is at once joyful and sad. One wing of baroque expression, with historical roots in the Catholic religious baroque, is closely associated with the melancholic contemplation of ruin, death, and catastrophe. At the other end of the spectrum, there is the Deleuzian principle of becoming-minor, the program of the rebellious consumption of tradition and of re-creating existing forms. In The Road, McCarthy memorializes post-apocalyptic ruin in a grand baroque style reminiscent of Robert Burton and Sir Thomas Browne. Conversely, Schopf’s portraits of harquebus-brandishing angels and Andean dancers in colorful costumes embodying Christian and pagan figures recover the Andean mestizo baroque, one of the major expressions of the transculturating New World baroque. McCarty’s post-apocalyptic baroque meditates on death, extinction and finitude; Schopf’s joyful baroque celebrates the creativity of culture and its evolution toward greater diversity.
Augustan American verse is the essence of this article. The poetry composed by the colonial poets from New England are discussed in this article. Colonial poets often said they were imitating Alexander Pope, Virgil, and Horace. Joseph Addison, John Dryden, and John Milton were also frequently mentioned. A reader acquainted with James Thomson, Abraham Cowley, Samuel Butler, and John Pomfret's “The Choice” will find much familiar in colonial poetry—so much so that later critics have often complained that colonial verse is derivative. Like their European contemporaries, Augustan poets in the colonies believed the “polish'd Arts” could help control “wild Passions” and “humanize the Soul.” This article also traces the transcendent values and contractarian logic which constitutes the Augustan Age. Detailed analysis of the works of writers such as Henry Brookes The New Metamorphoses and works of Ebenezer Cook forms the concluding part of the article.
Walter Scott’s historical novel achieved unprecedented success, and almost single-handedly propelled the novel as a genre into the literary field. A potent synthesis of history, romance, theory, and antiquarianism, the Waverley Novels rewrote contemporary modes of historical and national romance through a thematic of the heterogeneity of historical time. They answered to a new historical sensibility in a post-Revolutionary era of expanding readership; helped to forge a new British national identity; and were instrumental in reconfiguring literary culture for their time.
This article looks at different questions facing authorship in the eighteenth century, from the widespread use of anonymity and its consequences; the perception of an over-abundance of authors and the related fear of a massive cultural decline; the ways in which an authorial canon could have been more arbitrary and less comprehensive than a modern-day equivalent (looking at writers such as Samuel Johnson); the manner in which poetic representations of authorship sought to compete with and preempt other criticisms and versions of the self (with reference to Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift); the extensive use of self-reflexivity in fiction intended to guide and misguide the reader, from Swift to Henry Fielding and Laurence Sterne; and the consequences of the growing interest in authorship as a reflection of personality and celebrity.
This chapter defines literary qualities of ballads, those sung narratives which are part of our anonymous literary heritage. The conventions of the genre are discussed, such as the imagery of ballads as well as their narrative structure, characters, diction, prosody, rhyme schemes, and modal melodies. Qualities associated with songs or stories transmitted orally, such as incremental repetition and formulaic epithets or descriptive commonplaces, are also discussed and examples are given. Some of the controversies about the origins and composition of ballads are sketched in, as well as a thumbnail history of when and how these popular narratives were first collected. Their prevalence in eighteenth-century British society is suggested. The subject matter of ballads is described and the plots of a number of typical ballads are given in brief.
The city was a primary theater of Baroque rhetorical projection. At once political, anagogical, and aesthetic, from its built form to the ephemeral structures and processions that animated it, the Baroque city was shaped into a theatrical space. The city was also a microcosm, a world in miniature. Political means were directed toward the representation of civic harmony, the concordance of the civic and the celestial, and the mirror of Justice; beauty was not only an aesthetic experience, it was a sign of a harmonious society. This chapter focuses on several cities that are representative of some critical aspects of Baroque urbanism. Beginning in Rome, where many of the techniques of Baroque urban design were generated, it tracks their propagation to Paris and across France, to Germany, and finally to Amsterdam. The picture that emerges depicts those characteristics of the Baroque city that made it both unique and influential.
Between the the late sixteenth and the mid-seventeenth century, European diplomacy undergoes a dramatic expansion. New forms of representation and negotiation—summed up in Richelieu’s call for a “constant negotiation, ceaselessly and everywhere”—result in an increasingly complicated diplomatic world. These changes in practice are discussed in theories of diplomacy, but their implications may be most clearly seen in imaginary—that is, literary—depictions of diplomacy. The chapter studies a number of moments of diplomatic confusion, in plays by Shakespeare, Calderón, and Rotrou. It shows that these plays depict the changing political and moral role of the ambassador, the relationship between diplomacy and other forms of power, and the importance of new forms of communication. The essay also explores the largely neglected role of diplomacy in modern theories of the Baroque.
Christopher D. Johnson
This entry describes how discourse in the Baroque period variously functioned as a sophisticated, often subtle, and sometimes exorbitant means of mediating between words and things, between emergent, conflicted selves, and a world perceived as illusory. Such discourse tended to prize ingenuity, learning, difficulty, and novelty. Comprising many nonfictional prose genres, from the essay to the aphorism, Baroque discourse saw the cultivation of pointed, conceited, paratactic, and digressive prose styles. Vehicles for retrospective and prospective, deductive, and inductive modes of thought, such styles drew on the classical and humanist legacy even as they helped writers express novel cultural, political, epistemological, and metaphysical concerns. Such heterogeneity aside, exemplary writers such as Burton, Browne, Marino, Balzac, Pascal, Kircher, Leibniz, Quevedo, Gracián, Sor Juana, and Sigüenza y Góngora, all cultivated versions of a prosaic “I,” a self that tried to negotiate coincidentia oppositorum and mediate information overload.
Downing A. Thomas
The fundamental assumption of commentators from the early modern period is that tasteful music functions simultaneously to express sentiment and to move listener-spectators. The three core elements of the baroque operatic spectacle—poetry, music, and dance—are defined by their ability to express and convey passion. Commentators point to the particular ability of musical language—and its combination with poetry and movement—to represent that which is out of reach of spoken language, or below the threshold of linguistic representation. Although both dramma per musica and the tragédie en musique arose and were fundamentally grounded in monarchical cultural worlds, both also endured successfully as public art forms. Aesthetically, baroque opera exhibits and revels in nested structures, manifested in plays within plays and in references that place the operatic moment within a social world outside the opera. Opera left this aesthetic behind as it moved into the second half of the eighteenth century, influenced by the views of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the works of Christoph Willibald Ritter von Gluck among others.
In terms of sexuality, the Baroque period sees an evolution culminating in more clear-cut definitions and fixity: the establishment of two dimorphic sexes, which sustain physiologically grounded sexual and gender roles, concomitant with, and sustained in part by, the definition and marginalization of the homosexual. The modern sexual identities thus established depend no less on the emergence of the introspective, desiring subject, whose elaboration begins in the context of the Protestant and Catholic Reformations and the ensuing reorganization of the central religious and social institutions of confession and marriage. However, all these developments happened gradually and unevenly. Consequently, the Baroque is irreducibly marked by transition, multiplicity, lability, complexity, and the coexistence of differing models, ideas, and practices. As such, the Baroque defies dichotomous thinking and challenges historians of sexuality to move beyond entrenched and opposing “continuist” and “differentialist” approaches.
“Baroque” is not a political concept. To speak of the “baroque state” implies that the epoch denoted as “the baroque” by art historians (the late sixteenth to eighteenth centuries) has certain significant commonalities in political terms as well. This chapter tries to describe a particular political style that linked the countries of Christian Europe to one another. It was characterized by the idea of the state as an artefact, coupled with a love of geometry, theatricality, and ceremonial order, a general climate of competition, and finally a fundamental tension between ideal order and factual disorder. This common political style of the baroque states was shaped by omnipresent competition between potentates. Since this competition was conducted with military, diplomatic, and artistic means at the same time, it makes sense to transfer the category “baroque” from art and literature to the political realm.
Melissa J. Homestead
The beginnings of the American novel form the basis of this article. It traces the birth of novel as a genre in the American heartland. Edward Kimber recorded his experiences of New England in his work titled Itinerant Observations in America. This phenomenal work was to influence Susana Rowson. More than two decades after Edward Kimber crossed the Atlantic from England to the colonies, young Susanna made her first transatlantic crossing in 1766, four years after her birth in Portsmouth, England, to join her father in America. Rowson, like Kimber, made American people and places the subject of a novel first published in London, Charlotte, A Tale of Truth (1791). Her novel features a central character who crosses the Atlantic at a young age under duress. A comparative study between the English novel and its American counterpart winds up this article.
Kevin J. Hayes
The life, works, and contribution of Benjamin Franklin is the focus of this article. Sailing for England in 1724 aboard the London Hope two months prior to his nineteenth birthday, Benjamin Franklin looked forward to seeing London, where he planned to acquire a printing press. Once in England, Franklin discovered that there were no letters and no patrons. He started working for a printing press and started writing. He wrote and printed A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity (1725), a pamphlet taking issue with William Wollaston's Religion of Nature Delineated (1722). Franklin repudiated the ideas he expressed in the Dissertation in an essay entitled “On the Providence of God in the Government of the World” (1732), but the Dissertation remains important in terms of his biography. This article further discusses several other compositions of Franklin and the impact such writings had on society at large.
Blank verse was a self-consciously distinct literary form in the long eighteenth century, used to react very deliberately to the expectations generated by the “default setting” of couplets. Poets attempted with various degrees of success to explore the rhythmic and syntactic possibilities of the form, while the long shadow of Milton’s Paradise Lost compelled any usage or discussion of blank verse in the eighteenth-century to confront the pretensions of the epic and the sublime. This chapter considers the techniques and preoccupations of prominent eighteenth-century blank-versifiers including Thomson, Young, Akenside, and Cowper (as well as noting the significance of blank-verse tragedy) as part of an eighteenth-century discussion of the unfettered ambitions of the human imagination.