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Download Anna Seward and the End of the Eighteenth Century by Claudia T. Kairoff PDF

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By Claudia T. Kairoff

Anna Seward and her occupation defy effortless placement into the normal classes of British literature. Raised to emulate the nice poets John Milton and Alexander Pope, maturing within the Age of Sensibility, and publishing throughout the early Romantic period, Seward exemplifies the eighteenth-century transition from classical to Romantic. Claudia Thomas Kairoff’s first-class severe research deals clean readings of Anna Seward’s most vital writings and firmly establishes the poet as a pivotal determine between late-century British writers.

Reading Seward’s writing along contemporary scholarship on gendered conceptions of the poetic profession, patriotism, provincial tradition, sensibility, and the sonnet revival, Kairoff conscientiously reconsiders Seward’s poetry and demanding prose. Written because it was once within the final a long time of the eighteenth century, Seward’s paintings doesn't very easily healthy into the dominant versions of Enlightenment-era verse or the tropes that symbolize Romantic poetry. instead of seeing this as a disadvantage for knowing Seward’s writing inside a selected literary kind, Kairoff argues that this permits readers to work out in Seward’s works the eighteenth-century roots of Romantic-era poetry.

Arguably the main well-known girl poet of her lifetime, Seward’s writings disappeared from renowned and scholarly view presently after her loss of life. After approximately 200 years of severe overlook, Seward is attracting renewed realization, and with this ebook Kairoff makes a powerful and convincing case for together with Anna Seward's extraordinary literary achievements one of the most crucial of the past due eighteenth century.

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Seward’s first published poem, for example, a commendation of Lady Miller’s Batheaston salon, is described as “somewhat incoherent” (72). “Severe as may be our critical judgment of the result” of Batheaston’s inspiration, “we may,” Ashmun adds, “at least congratulate [Seward] on having found an outlet for her emotions” (73). Ashmun is only mildly dismissive of the elegies for Cook and André, which she considers Seward’s best verse: “The high-flown and overwrought style which ruins most of her work was not so deadly in these monodies as elsewhere” (88).

Her characterization of Lady Miller’s assemblies as “ridiculous” no doubt derives in part from Johnson’s comment that an eminent acquaintance who participated in her contests “was a blockhead for his pains” (Boswell 2:336–37). But another source was Ruth Hesselgrave’s ironic account of the Millers and their activities, from which Ashmun drew her information. Lady Miller was doomed like Seward to a biographer who, like numerous scholars of the twentieth century’s first three decades, found something intrinsically comical in the literary activities of gentlemen and ladies, especially ladies, of the eighteenth century.

While Seward was not a member of the Lunar Society, the perspective she shared with the group would have led her to consider the Birmingham region not as a backwater but as the locus of several important cultural movements. More than any other woman writer except, perhaps, Aphra Behn, Seward was systematically undermined until recently. If Seward’s critical disappearance were a whodunit, her earliest posthumous commentators would be the culprits. How did Germaine Greer, for example, form the impression that Seward had composed a “great drift of indifferent verse”?

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