Graveyard Poetry: Religion, Aesthetics and the Mid-Eighteenth-Century Poetic Condition, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Graveyard Poetry

Religion, Aesthetics and the Mid-Eighteenth-Century Poetic Condition, 1st Edition

By Eric Parisot


194 pages

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While immensely popular in the eighteenth century, current critical wisdom regards graveyard poetry as a short-lived fad with little lasting merit. In the first book-length study of this important poetic mode, Eric Parisot suggests, to the contrary, that graveyard poetry is closely connected to the mid-century aesthetic revision of poetics. Graveyard poetry's contribution to this paradigm shift, Parisot argues, stems from changing religious practices and their increasing reliance on printed material to facilitate private devotion by way of affective and subjective response. Coupling this perspective with graveyard poetry’s obsessive preoccupation with death and salvation makes visible its importance as an articulation or negotiation between contemporary religious concerns and emerging aesthetics of poetic practice. Parisot reads the poetry of Robert Blair, Edward Young and Thomas Gray, among others, as a series of poetic experiments that attempt to accommodate changing religious and reading practices and translate religious concerns into parallel reconsiderations of poetic authority, agency, death and afterlife. Making use of an impressive body of religious treatises, sermons and verse that ground his study in a precise historical moment, Parisot shows graveyard poetry's strong ties to seventeenth-century devotional texts, and most importantly, its influential role in the development of late eighteenth-century sentimentalism and Romanticism.


'Parisot is interested in tracing a relationship between the decline of the public and oratorical sermon and the rise of silent reading, first in the form of closet devotion, later in a secularized meditation that increasingly relies on printed material that can be read in private.' Studies in English Literature

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: re-reading graveyard poetry; Prospects of eternity: the theology of poetic salvation; The problem of religious authority and poetic autonomy; Seeking the daimonic and the divine; The paths of glory: death and poetic ambition; In trembling hope: reading and the sympathetic afterlife; Post-mortem; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Eric Parisot is a Lecturer in English Literature at the School of English, Media Studies and Art History, University of Queensland, Australia.

About the Series

British Literature in Context in the Long Eighteenth Century

British Literature in the Eighteenth Century
This series aims to promote original scholarship on the intersection of British literature and history in the long eighteenth century, from the Restoration through the first generation of the Romantic era. Both "literature" and "history" are broadly conceived. Literature might include not only canonical novels, poems, and plays but also essays, life-writing, and belles lettres of all sorts, by both major and minor authors. History might include not only traditional political and social history but also the history of the book, the history of science, the history of religion, the history of scholarship, and the history of sexuality, as well as broader questions of historiography and periodization. The series editors invite proposals for both monographs and collections taking a wide range of approaches. Contributions may be interdisciplinary but should be grounded in sound historical research. All manuscripts should be written so as to be accessible to a wide audience while also making lasting contributions to the field.

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