Individually and collectively, these essays establish a new direction for scholarship that examines the crucial activities of reading and writing about literature and how they relate to 'authenticity'. Though authenticity is a term deep in literary resonance and rich in philosophical complexity, its connotations relative to the study of literature have rarely been explored or exploited through detailed, critical examination of individual writers and their works. Here the notion of the authentic is recognised first and foremost as central to a range of literary and philosophical ways of thinking, particularly for nineteenth-century poets and novelists. Distinct from studies of literary fakes and forgeries, this collection focuses on authenticity as a central paradigm for approaching literature and its formation that bears on issues of authority, self-reliance, truth, originality, the valid and the real, and the genuine and inauthentic, whether applied to the self or others. Topics and authors include: the spiritual autobiographies of William Cowper and John Newton; Ruskin and travel writing; British Romantic women poets; William Wordsworth and P.B. Shelley; Robert Southey and Anna Seward; John Keats; Lord Byron; Elizabeth Gaskell; Henry David Thoreau; Henry Irving; and Joseph Conrad. The volume also includes a note on Professor Vincent Newey with a bibliography of his critical writings.
'What is the relationship between literature and authenticity? How has it evolved from the 18th century to the present day? Why - in the aftermath of the historical and theoretical revolutions of the last few decades - does the question of the "real" still fascinate literary critics? In this excellent collection, a group of distinguished names and rising stars within literary criticism return to this most enduring of problems. This book should be read by anyone with an interest in the state of contemporary literary studies.' Arthur Bradley, Lancaster University, UK '… one of the common threads underpinning many of these essays is the Protestant concern with self-scrutiny and spiritual autobiography. Readers may come to the book for subjects such as this, and Cowper gets a prominent place here, but they will stay for the rest of the production. There are some great essays here, a testimony to the hard work of the contributors and editors alike, that continually suggest ways of writing about and encountering the world that may not be wholly of that world but are undoubtedly of a piece with it.' The Cowper and Newton Journal 'Whereas other essay collections frequently suffer from a lack of robust unifying theme this is clearly not in evidence here. Primarily this is because the theme is such a strong and absorbing one, though this is not to detract from the excellent editorial decisions which are discussed in further depth below… this breadth perhaps aptly represents the wide research interests of Vincent Newey to whom the collection is dedicated. This volume is a fitting tribute to Professor Newey and this reviewer enthusiastically recommends it to all Long Nineteenth Century students and scholars.' The Byron Journal