Romantic Feuds Transcending the 'Age of Personality'
Romantic writers such as Robert Southey and Samuel Taylor Coleridge aspired to rise above the so-called 'age of personality,' a new culture of politicized print gossip and personal attacks. Nevertheless, Southey, Coleridge, and other Romantic-era figures such as Leigh Hunt, William Hazlitt, Sydney Owenson, and the explorer John Ross became enmeshed in lively feuds with the major periodicals of the day, the Edinburgh Review and the Quarterly Review. Kim Wheatley focuses on feuds from the second and third decades of the nineteenth century, suggesting that by this time the vituperative rhetoric of the Edinburgh and the Quarterly had developed into what Coleridge called 'a habit of malignity.' Attending to the formal strategies of the reviewers' surprisingly creative prose, she traces how her chosen feuds take on lives of their own, branching off into other print media, including the weekly press and monthly magazines. Ultimately, Wheatley shows, these hostile exchanges incorporated literary genres and Romantic themes such as the idealized poetic self, the power of the supernatural, and the quest for the sublime. By turning episodes of print warfare into stories of transfiguration, the feuds thus unexpectedly contributed to the emergence of Romanticism.
'Wheatley writes well and knows the era and its major (and minor) figures... [Her book] evoke[s] a time when people cared enough about literature and prose styles to get down and dirty with them.' Critical Margins 'In a book that is enjoyable as well as persuasive, Wheatley presents the "game" of literary feuding as an engrossing spectator sport. [This monograph] is as constructive and passionate as its inspiring feuds. As in Shelley and his Readers, Wheatley demonstrates that literary conflict can differ from other kinds in facilitating creativity.' NBOL 19 ’By bringing the reviewer and the poet into the same orbit, Wheatley reveals the remarkable and unexpected ways in which essayists such as Barrow simultaneously waged a long campaign of personal abuse and co-operated with some of canonical Romanticism’s central preoccupations. In a book which comments illuminatingly on several contentious aspects of the early nineteenth-century British periodical press, Romantic Feuds demonstrates above all the many and often conflicted ways in which Romantic writers needed reviewers, and vice versa.’ Wordsworth Circle ’...the scholarship throughout is scrupulous and exhaustive and this is a significant and potentially transformative contribution to an increasingly important area of literary studies.’ Review of English Studies ’Wheatley [has] patience and clarity in tracing the twists and turns of these complex and often obscure exchanges. That she has managed to do this in brisk, engaging prose - avoiding the longueurs of summary that plague the study of periodicals - will be welcome to any reader, and should stand as an example to anyone writing on the subject.’ European Romantic Review ’Romantic Feuds excels in bringing out the comedy and the contradictions in the battles which it examines. Wheatley’s close readings are informed and subtle, employing detailed knowledge to revivify the pleasures of these clashes. ...[This book] make[s] it clear that