That medicine becomes professionalized at the very moment that literature becomes "Romantic" is an important coincidence, and James Allard makes the most of it. His book restores the physical body to its proper place in Romantic studies by exploring the status of the human body during the period. With meticulous detail, he documents the way medical discourse consolidates a body susceptible to medical authority that is then represented in the works of Romantic era poets. In doing so, he attends not only to the history of medicine's professionalization but significantly to the rhetoric of legitimation that advances the authority of doctors over the bodies of patients and readers alike. After surveying trends in Romantic-era medicine and analyzing the body's treatment in key texts by Wordsworth and Joanna Baillie, Allard moves quickly to his central subject-the Poet-Physician. This hybrid figure, discovered in the works of the medically trained John Keats, John Thelwall, Thomas Lovell Beddoes, embodies the struggles occasioned by the discrepancies and affinities between medicine and poetry.
James Robert Allard is Assistant Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at Brock University, Canada.
'James Allard teaches readers to be alert to body language and the insistent presence of the body informing thought and word choice, not just in the moment of ache or pain, but in every act of perception and response an author attempts to record. His analysis of Wordsworth as poet of this "mighty world of eye and ear" is rich in new insights, and he reveals the extensive medical awareness that informs Joanna Baillie's Plays on the Passions, Thelwall's radical vitalism and vital radicalism, Keats's physical self-reflexivity, and Beddoes's tragicomic drama of death and godless resurrection.' Frederick Burwick, University of California, Los Angeles, USA 'Romanticism, Medicine, and the Poet's Body makes a significant contribution to Romantic-era cultural history and '"body studies", elucidating the problems of authority and anxiety in the way bodies are imagined in Romantic writing. Rigorously grounded in medical and scientific history, while also making space for the interpretation of literary style, Allard's book must become a key text for understanding that distinctively Romantic amalgam the "Poet-Physician".' Michael Bradshaw, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK ’... a rich and diverse book.’ European Romantic Review ’... carefully researched and closely reasoned... It joins a number of recent, important works in giving us a Romanticism that is fully informed by the best medical and scientific thinking of its time, and which thus expresses, rather than simply transcending, the conflicts and contradictions of embodied experience.’ European Legacy