Creating Romanticism. Case Studies in the Literature, by Sharon Ruston

By Sharon Ruston

This e-book argues that the time period 'Romanticism' may be extra culturally-inclusive, spotting the significance of medical and clinical rules that assisted in shaping many of the key strategies of the interval, resembling normal rights, the artistic mind's eye and the chic. The e-book discusses more than a few authors together with Joanna Baillie, Edmund Burke, Erasmus Darwin, William Godwin, Joseph Priestly, Mary Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft. Chapters examine those figures from a brand new standpoint, utilizing their magazine articles, diaries, manuscript notebooks and poetry, in addition to unpublished letters. Humphry Davy is given specific consciousness and his poetry and chemistry are explored as imperative to Romantic efforts in either poetry and science.

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One cause of the ‘barren blooming’ of women she attributes to ‘a false system of education, gathered from the books written on the subject by men, who [consider] females rather as women than human creatures’ (Works, V, 73). That women are first and foremost human is a crucial point for Wollstonecraft. In her ‘Preface’ to Vindication Wollstonecraft tells her reader that she calls ‘with the firm tone of humanity’ and that she writes because she has ‘an affection for the whole human race’ (Works, V, 65).

To argue that women deserve the same rights as men, Wollstonecraft needs to prove that they can be equal in terms of their intellect and moral being. She endeavours, therefore, to argue that women have reason, that they have souls, and that any evidence to the contrary is just an effect of the way they have been educated. Reason, after all, is ‘the dignified distinction which raises men above the brute creation’ (Works, V, 74). Wollstonecraft writes: ‘In what does man’s preeminence over the brute creation consist?

The end result is ‘to blunt the discriminating powers of the mind’ and yet he does think that the mind has the ability to heal itself (Prose Works, I, 128). He is sure that the human mind has ‘certain inherent and indestructible qualities’, as does nature, and that poetry of the kind he is suggesting can help to heal (Prose Works, I, 130). His medical language is appropriate given the fact that he hopes a new kind of poetry can restore health to a nation of men vitiated by modern life. The word ‘vitiated’ is used in a remarkably similar paragraph describing the effect that ‘Manufacturing and Commerce’ have had in Spain, in Wordsworth’s The Convention of Cintra, which, ‘by unnaturally clustering the people together—enfeebled their bodies, inflamed their passions, by intemperance, vitiated from childhood their moral affections, and destroyed their imaginations’ (Prose Works, I, 332).

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