By Claudia T. Kairoff

Anna Seward and her profession defy effortless placement into the conventional sessions of British literature. Raised to emulate the good poets John Milton and Alexander Pope, maturing within the Age of Sensibility, and publishing through the early Romantic period, Seward exemplifies the eighteenth-century transition from classical to Romantic. Claudia Thomas Kairoff’s first-class serious learn deals clean readings of Anna Seward’s most crucial 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 occupation, patriotism, provincial tradition, sensibility, and the sonnet revival, Kairoff conscientiously reconsiders Seward’s poetry and important prose. Written because it was once within the final a long time of the eighteenth century, Seward’s paintings doesn't with ease healthy into the dominant versions of Enlightenment-era verse or the tropes that symbolize Romantic poetry. instead of seeing this as a disadvantage for figuring out Seward’s writing inside of a specific literary type, Kairoff argues that this enables readers to work out in Seward’s works the eighteenth-century roots of Romantic-era poetry.

Arguably the main sought after lady poet of her lifetime, Seward’s writings disappeared from well known and scholarly view almost immediately after her demise. After approximately 200 years of severe overlook, Seward is attracting renewed cognizance, and with this ebook Kairoff makes a powerful and convincing case for together with Anna Seward's amazing literary achievements one of the most vital of the past due eighteenth century.

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The socioeconomic and cultural history that created this revolution cannot be ignored, but literary scholars can do better than ignore or mock those who maintained their amateur status amid the changes. A welcome development is resurgent interest in the bluestockings, the group of genteel women who influenced London’s intellectual and social life through two generations. In their recent anthology, Reconsidering the Bluestockings, Nicole Pohl and Betty A. Schellenberg expanded the term to include those provincial women such as Seward whose homes, like those of the original London “Blues,” were the cultural centers of local society (5).

Seward, a clergyman’s daughter, numbered many clergymen among her friends and often professed her faith in the Church of England. Yet she departed from the views of powerful church officials in her political opinions and pushed the boundaries of decorum by persisting in her relationship with John Saville. Seward’s complicated relationship with under suspicious circumstances 29 the clergy in Lichfield and beyond invites analysis. Likewise, Seward’s resemblance to the London bluestockings requires study.

To Spenser, and the poets of his school, she lent an unwilling ear; and what will, perhaps, best explain my meaning, she greatly preferred the flowing numbers and expanded descriptions of Pope’s Iliad to Cowper’s translation, which approaches nearer to the simple dignity of Homer. (1:xxv–xxvi) Scott proposes Erasmus Darwin as the Satan to Seward’s poetic Eve: since Darwin mentored the adolescent poet, he must have corrupted her style. While Darwin no doubt influenced Seward, especially by motivating her to refine the alreadyrefined style of Pope, there is no reason to believe he was completely responsible for Seward’s style.

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