Review by Choice Review
The strongest essays in this collection share a project: to examine the myth of male self-possession in poetry of the romantic period. The result is a series of compelling new perspectives on the significance of gender in romanticism. According to Marlon Ross, the romantic definition of the poetic vocation as masculine is a "socio-historic" process. He and Sonia Hofkosh perceive that process as a response to anxiety over the real demands of a female readership and the imagined consequences of a profession conceived as feminized. Male writers, writes Alan Richardson, "colonize the conventionally feminine domain of sensibility." The collection also builds on existing feminist readings. For example, Susan Wolfson amends Margaret Homans's argument in Women Writers and Poetic Identity (CH, Apr '81) by demonstrating that Wordsworth is "not the sure, secure figure of logocentric performance and egocentric confidence." Rather, she locates "forms of equivocation" within the poetic paradigm inherited by both Dorothy and William Wordsworth. Other essays contribute to a related project, namely, to illuminate "the wealth and significance" of relatively unknown works of the period. This collection is most important for its sophisticated analysis of the role of gender in the construction of a romantic identity and in the subsequent formation of a romantic canon. Appropriate for graduate and undergraduate students. B. Kowaleski-Wallace Tufts University
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