In early nineteenth-century Britain, there was unprecedented interest in the subject of genius, as well as in the personalities and private lives of creative artists. This was also a period in which literary magazines were powerful arbiters of taste, helping to shape the ideological consciousness of their middle-class readers. Romantic Genius and the Literary Magazine considers how these magazines debated the nature of genius and how and why they constructed particular creative artists as geniuses.
Romantic writers often imagined genius to be a force that transcended the realms of politics and economics. David Higgins, however, shows in this text that representations of genius played an important role in ideological and commercial conflicts within early nineteenth-century literary culture. Furthermore, Romantic Genius and the Literary Magazine bridges the gap between Romantic and Victorian literary history by considering the ways in which Romanticism was understood and sometimes challenged by writers in the 1830s. It not only discusses a wide range of canonical and non-canonical authors, but also examines the various structures in which these authors had to operate, making it an interesting and important book for anyone working on Romantic literature.
'David Higgins's readable and well-researched study contributes to the project of resituating key concepts of Romantic poetics within the print culture of the period.' - Romantic Textualities: Literature and Print Culture, 1780 - 1840
'…a learned and persuasive account of how the society of the 1820s and 1830s simultaneously constructed and deconstructed romantic genius, and should be must reading for both romanticists and historians of the periodical.' - David Latane, European Romantic Review
List of Plates Acknowledgments List of Abbreviations Introduction 1. Literary Genius, Transgression and Society in the Early Nineteenth Century Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the Reviews Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine Blackwood’s and Percy Bysshe Shelley Evangelicalism and the Dangers of Genius Fraser’s Magazine Sir Samuel Egerton Brydges and Edmund Lytton Bulwer John Stuart Mill and the Monthly Repository Fraser’s and the (In)Dignity of Literature Conclusion 2. Literary Biography and its Discontents Biographical Debates: William Wordsworth and Thomas Carlyle Biographical Debates: William Hazlitt, Thomas De Quincey, Isaac D’Israeli The Problem of ‘Personality’ 3. Magazine Biography in the Late Romantic Period Literary Portraits: William Hazlitt and William Maginn Literary Reminiscences: Leigh Hunt and Thomas Jefferson Hogg Literary Reminiscences: Richard Pearse Gillies on Scott Thomas De Quincey’s ‘Lake Reminiscences’ and Tait’s Edinburgh Magazine 4. Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine and the Construction of Wordworth's Reception Wordsworth’s Reception Blackwood’s and Wordsworth The ‘Letters from the Lakes’ 5. William Hazlitt and the Degradation of Genius Genius and Power Understanding Apostasy ‘Mr Coleridge’s Lay Sermon’ Genius, Literature, and Liberalism The Failure of the Liberal 6. 'The Quack Artist': Benjamin Robert Haydon and the Dangers of Publicity Haydon on Genius, High Art, and the Public Haydon in the Press, 1814-20 Haydon in the Press, 1820-46 Cruikshank on Haydon: Two Caricatures Conclusion Bibliography