Northern Illinois University Press

Politics, Philosophy, and the Production of Romantic Texts

Terence Allan Hoagwood

"Hoagwood's arguments are at the cutting edge of current Romantic criticism."Choice

Works by authors of the Romantic period have often been viewed primarily as expressions of escapism, disillusionment, or apostasy on the part of the writer. In contrast, Hoagwood shows that political repression had important effects on the production of Romantic texts. Far from disengaging from the political world, works by Wordsworth, Coleridge, Blake, Shelley, Hays, and Smith, written at a time when overt expression was dangerous, express their author's contentions with political repression through duplicitous meaning and figural terminology. By emphasizing the material textuality of Romantic writing, Hoagwood provides a new model for interpretation in the tradition of countering "Romantic ideology."

Hoagwood demonstrates how political pressures and the institutions of publishing helped to shape the meanings of Romantic texts. He argues for the importance of a book's historically specific and material form in influencing the way critics and scholars view a given work. Literary theory and textual criticism come together in this book to show the new ranges of significance that can emerge when a poetic work is studied as a material artifact.

The study concludes with a comparative analysis of critical theory in the Romantic period and in our own, addressing ways in which the differnces between modernity and romanticism have affected interpretations of Romantic works. Hoagwood suggests that the political forces shaped the formulations of philosophic questions concerning interpretation and fictionality in much the same way they influenced the writing of Romantic literature.

(1996) 232 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-206-0
cloth $35.50

Table of Contents

Part One: History, Hermeneutics, and the Rise of British Romanticism
1. Symbolic Formations: Poetry and Political Philosophy
2. Duplicity I: The Domain of Political Action
3. Duplicity II: Custom, Prejudice, and Tyranny
4. Fictionality
Part Two: Romantic Books
5. Visual Art and Historical Meaning in The Book[s] of Urizen
6. Social Thought, Hermeneutic Structures, and Mary Hays's The Victim of Prejudice
7. Charlotte Smith: Political Iconography and a Critique of Imagination
8. Byron, Rogers, Murray, and the Conflict of Meanings: Lara and Jacqueline
Conclusion: Romantic Books and Modern Hermeneutics

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-206-0
cloth $35.50