Literary Criticism

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Abstract

This chapter begins by examining William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, a collection which, though radical, could hardly have
been classed as a full frontal attack on the Establishment, but one which still looked a bit too interested in undermining convention. Hence, Francis Jeffrey’s reaction to Wordsworth is considered here as the absorbingly articulated anxiety of a high end conspiracy-theorist. This chapter also revisits some of the critical hostility to John Keats, Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Thomas De Quincey’s seminal insights into Macbeth, too, are revisited, as is an example of De Quincey’s contemporary book reviewing at its most meltingly Machiavellian. Finally, this
chapter shows that Coleridge’s evaluation of Wordsworth in the Biographia Literaria marked the arrival of a new kind of criticism that could include consideration of the weaknesses of a work of literature as part of a more helpful appraisal of its life-changing strengths.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Handbook of British Romantic Prose
EditorsRobert Morrison
PublisherOxford University Press
Chapter48
Pages825-842
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9780198834540
DOIs
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 22 May 2024

Publication series

NameThe Oxford Handbook of British Romantic Prose
PublisherOxford University Press

Keywords

  • William Wordsworth
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • Lyrical Ballads
  • Lord Byron
  • John Keats
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley
  • Francis Jeffrey
  • Thomas De Quincey
  • Biographia Literaria

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