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Romanticism, Self-Canonization, and the Business of Poetry


Part of Cambridge Studies in Romanticism

  • Date Published: July 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316611531

£ 22.99

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About the Authors
  • This is the first book to examine how Romantic writers transformed poetic collections to reach new audiences. In a series of case studies, Michael Gamer shows Romantic poets to be fundamentally social authors: working closely with booksellers, intimately involved in literary production, and resolutely concerned with current readers even as they presented themselves as disinterested artists writing for posterity. Exploding the myth of Romantic poets as naive, unworldly, or unconcerned with the practical aspects of literary production, this study shows them instead to be engaged with intellectual property, profit and loss, and the power of reprinting to reshape literary reputation. Gamer offers a fresh perspective on how we think about poetic revision, placing it between aesthetic and economic registers and foregrounding the centrality of poetic collections rather than individual poems to the construction of literary careers.

    • Brings readers interested in copyright and publishing history in dialogue with those interested in Romantic poets and poetry
    • Provides readers with an account of how Romantic poets' business and commercial activities informed contemporary representations of the poet, both by the writers themselves and by readers and reviewers
    • Reinserts writers into prevailing models of social authorship currently popular with readers of book history, which too often have excluded authors from their histories in order to foreground the role played by 'non-author authors' such as printers, typesetters, editors, booksellers, and publishers
    • Allows readers to consider how the packaging of books and the reordering of poetic collections directly contributes to questions of reputation and fame
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'A sure sign of a good critical book is surprise that it hasn't been written before. This is so with Michael Gamer's Romanticism, Self-Canonization, and the Business of Poetry … The argument is cogent, persuasive, and yet fresh.' Octavia Cox, Studies in Romanticism

    '… expertly and persuasively argued. … Gamer's excellent book succeeds in getting readers thinking about the lifetimes of hustle involved in posthumous fame and Romantic poetry's bibliographic version of the greatest hits album or box set. Romanticism, Self-Canonization, and the Business of Poetry reveals that the iterative compilation is not merely derivative and that curating for a shot at immortality is literary art as much as business.' Yohei Igarashi, Modern Philology Journal

    'Gamer focuses on Romantic writers' employment of publishing and advertising networks, noticing how the poets cannily designed their collections of previously published work to draw in audiences and maximize profits.' Talia Schaffer, Studies in English Literature

    '… this study produces remarkable insights, such as its argument that 'Julian and Maddalo', the first poem in Posthumous Poems, is placed where it is to refute established stereotypes of Shelley's character. Readings of this quality occur throughout, and prove that Michael Gamer's study is a rare thing: an original analysis that should influence how we teach and how we read Romantic poetry.' Will Bowers, The Times Literary Supplement

    '… quite simply one of the most insightful, lucid, and absorbing new studies of British Romanticism to appear in recent memory. Offering one groundbreaking archival discovery after another - many of which yield provocative new readings of major authors and texts … a remarkably cohesive and clear scholarly study which offers a masterclass in how to engage with previous scholarship on the topic both generously and incisively.' Nicholas Mason, European Romantic Review

    '… the ultimate quality of Gamer's study resides in the acuity of its close readings, and in its attentiveness to a novel range of authors.' Andrew Raven, British Society for Literature and Science Reviews (

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316611531
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.447kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: re-collections intranquility
    1. Corpus, canon, and the self-collected author
    2. Subscription reprinting: the third and fifth Elegiac Sonnets
    3. 'Bell's poetics': from The Florence Miscellany to the books of The World
    4. 'A local habitation and a name': remaking Lyrical Ballads
    5. Robert Southey's laureate policy
    6. Shelley incinerated: the heart of The Posthumous Poems.

  • Author

    Michael Gamer, University of Pennsylvania
    Michael Gamer is Associate Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Romanticism and the Gothic: Genre, Reception, and Canon Formation (Cambridge, 2000) and Associate Editor of the journal EIR: Essays in Romanticism.

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