Romantic Border Crossings (The Nineteenth Century Series)

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Romantic Border Crossings (The Nineteenth Century Series)

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Romantic Border Crossings

Edited by

JEFFREY CASS University of Louisiana at Monroe, USA LARRY PEER Brigham Young University, USA

© Jeffrey Cass and Larry Peer 2008 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the publisher. Jeffrey Cass and Larry Peer have asserted their moral right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the editors of this work. Published by Ashgate Publishing Limited Gower House Croft Road Aldershot Hampshire GU11 3HR England

Ashgate Publishing Company Suite 420 101 Cherry Street Burlington, VT 05401-4405 USA

Ashgate website: British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data Romantic border crossings. – (The nineteenth century) 1. Romanticism 2. Literature – 19th century – History and criticism I. Cass, Jeffrey II. Peer, Larry H. 809.9’145 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Romantic border crossings / edited by Jeffrey Cass and Larry Peer. p. cm. – (The nineteenth century series) ISBN 978-0-7546-6051-4 (alk. paper) 1. Literature, Modern – 19th century – History and criticism. 2. Romanticism. I. Cass, Jeffrey, 1949 – II. Peer, Larry H. PN751.R64 2008 809’.9142–dc22 2007008017 ISBN: 978-0-7546-6051-4

Printed and bound in Great Britain by MPG Books Ltd, Bodmin, Cornwall.

Contents General Editors’ Preface List of Contributors

Introduction: Heterotopia and Romantic Border Crossings Jeffrey Cass

vii ix


PART I: British Border Crossings 1



Gateway to Heterotopia: Elsewhere on Stage Frederick Burwick


To Be and Not To Be: The Bounded Body and Embodied Boundary in Inchbald’s A Simple Story Valerie Henitiuk


Byron Under the Black Flag Talissa Ford


PART II: Comparative Border Crossings 4



Crossing Boundaries in Nerval’s Voyage en Orient Hugo Azérad


Transgressions of Gender and Generation in the Families of Goethe’s Meister Ingrid Broszeit-Rieger


Transcending Borders: Loss and Mourning in Gottfried August Bürger’s “Lenore” Gabriele Dillmann


PART III: Historical Border Crossings 7

Crossing from ‘Jacobin’ to ‘Anti-Jacobin’: Rethinking the Terms of English Jacobinism Miriam L. Wallace


Romantic Border Crossings




Rhyming Reason: The Poetry of Early Psychiatrists, 1790–1830 Michelle Faubert


Genre Crossings: Gothic Novels and the Borders of History Bronwyn Rivers


PART IV: Pedagogical Border Crossings 10



Teaching Orientalism through British Romantic Drama: Representations of Arabia Marjean D. Purinton


Crossing the Borders of Genre in Romantics Scholarship and the Classroom Stephen C. Behrendt


Learning from Excess: Emily Dickinson and Bettine von Arnim’s Die Günderode Kari Lokke


PART V: American and Transatlantic Border Crossings 13



A Uniform Hieroglyphic: Crossing Race and Ethnicity in Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (1855) Jeanne Cortiel


Manifest Empire: Anglo-American Rivalry and the Shaping of U.S. Manifest Destiny Sohui Lee


Ample Make This Bed: Dickinson’s Dying in Drama and Arnim’s Liebestod Lilach Lachman


Works Cited Index

201 219

The Nineteenth Century Series General Editors’ Preface The aim of the series is to reflect, develop and extend the great burgeoning of interest in the nineteenth century that has been an inevitable feature of recent years, as that former epoch has come more sharply into focus as a locus for our understanding not only of the past but of the contours of our modernity. It centres primarily upon major authors and subjects within Romantic and Victorian literature. It also includes studies of other British writers and issues, where these are matters of current debate: for example, biography and autobiography, journalism, periodical literature, travel writing, book production, gender, non-canonical writing. We are dedicated principally to publishing original monographs and symposia; our policy is to embrace a broad scope in chronology, approach and range of concern, and both to recognize and cut innovatively across such parameters as those suggested by the designations ‘Romantic’ and ‘Victorian’. We welcome new ideas and theories, while valuing traditional scholarship. It is hoped that the world which predates yet so forcibly predicts and engages our own will emerge in parts, in the wider sweep, and in the lively streams of disputation and change that are so manifest an aspect of its intellectual, artistic and social landscape. Vincent Newey Joanne Shattock University of Leicester

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List of Contributors Hugo Azérad is Fellow and College lecturer in French at Magdalene College, Cambridge University. He has published a book on Proust, Joyce, Faulkner and the concept of epiphany entitled L’Univers constellé de Proust, Joyce et Faulkner: le concept d’épiphanie dans l’esthétique du Modernisme (2002), as well as articles on Proust, Faulkner, French poetry, Mirbeau and Huysmans. An essay on Joyce and negative utopia has been published in Joyce in Trieste, An Album of Risky Readings (University of Florida Press, 2007). At present, he is working on the notion of aesthetic image, alongside a book devoted to modern French poetry. Stephen C. Behrendt is University Professor and George Holmes Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Nebraska. He has published widely on Blake, the Shelleys, and on the relations among the arts, as well as on British women writers of the Romantic period. His books include Reading William Blake, Shelley and His Audiences, and Royal Mourning and Regency Culture, as well as three collections of poetry, Instruments of the Bones, A Step in the Dark, and History. Ingrid Broszeit-Rieger is Associate Professor of German at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, since 2006. Her articles discussing family issues include “Paintings in Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister Novels: Dynamics of Erecting and Eroding the Paternal Law,” Goethe Yearbook (2005), “Practice and Theory of Dance in Goethe’s Meister,” Neophilologus (2006), and “Family Systems Theory and ‘The Man of Fifty Years’ in Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister’s Journeyman Years,” forthcoming in Romanticism and Parenting: Image, Institution and Ideology (Cambridge Scholars Press). At present, she is working on a book project about family systems and feminine identity formation in Goethe’s novels. Frederick Burwick, after completing his doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, returned to his native Los Angeles to take to take a teaching position at UCLA. He has also lectured at numerous other universities in Germany as well as in Britain. At UCLA he taught courses on Romantic drama and directed student performances of a dozen plays. Author and editor of twenty books and over ninety articles, his research is dedicated to problems of perception, illusion, and delusion in literary representation and theatrical performance. He has been named Distinguished Scholar by both the British Academy (1992) and the Keats-Shelley Association (1998). He is co-editor with James McKusick of Coleridge’s translation of Faust (Oxford University Press, 2007) and editor of the Coleridge Handbook (forthcoming: Oxford University Press, 2008).


Romantic Border Crossings

Jeffrey Cass is Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of English at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Interrogating Orientalism: Theoretical Approaches and Contextual Practices, a collection he co-edited with Diane Hoeveler, was published by The Ohio State University Press (2006). He has also edited and provided commentary for a new edition of Karl Kahlert’s The Necromancer (Valancourt Books, 2007). In addition he has published articles on Maria Edgeworth, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Felicia Hemans, and Philip Meadows Taylor in such journals as ANQ, Papers on Language and Literature, Dickens Studies Annual, European Romantic Review, and South Asian Review. Jeanne Cortiel teaches American Studies at the University of Dortmund, Germany. Based on an interest in patters of conflict and resistance in American culture, she has published on twentieth-century feminist thought and race and ethnicity in the United States. She is the author of Demand My Writing: Joanna Russ/ Feminism/ Science Fiction (Liverpool UP, 1999) and Passion für das Unmögliche: Befreiung als Narrativ in der amerikanischen feministischen Theologie (Passion For the Impossible: Liberation Narratives in American Feminist Theology, Blaue Eule, 2001). Her current project is a book-length study on how race and ethnicity are conceptualized in mid-nineteenth century American literature. Gabriele Dillmann is Associate Professor of German at Denison University in Granville, Ohio where she teaches courses in German language and in German and Austrian literature and culture from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. She earned her doctorate in Germanic Languages at the University of California in Los Angeles while simultaneously studying contemporary psychoanalytic theory with a special emphasis on Heinz Kohut’s Self Psychology. Dr Dillmann’s literary interests are centered in German Romanticism, but also include authors of other periods whose works illuminate our understanding of the human psyche and individual pathology. She is currently working on a book project that investigates the conjunction of narcissistic injury and suicide in literary works of the Romantic period and beyond. Michelle Faubert is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the University of Manitoba, Canada. Her research interests in the history of psychiatry, the Scottish Enlightenment, and literary identity are reflected in her chapter on the gendered perception of madness during the Romantic period, which appears in Allan Ingram’s Cultural Constructions of Madness in the Eighteenth Century: Representing the Insane (Palgrave Macmillan), and her article on moral management and John Clare in Victorian Literature and Culture. At present, she is writing a monograph on the poetry of Romantic-era doctors of the mind. Talissa Ford is a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently working on a manuscript entitled “Prophets and Pirates: The Space of Empire in the British Romantic Period.” Her article, “‘Jerusalem is scatter’d abroad’: Blake’s Ottoman Geographies” is forthcoming from Studies in Romanticism.

List of Contributors


Valerie Henitiuk is Associate Director at the British Centre for Literary Translation and Lecturer in Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia. Previously, she was a Visiting Scholar with the Center for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University in New York City. Her postdoctoral research was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). In addition to her work on liminal metaphors in women’s writing in English, French, and Japanese, Dr Henitiuk’s interests include translation studies, specifically the circulation of works of a given national literature within the broader context of world literature. Publications include articles in Comparative Literature Studies, Canadian Review of Comparative Literature, META, and Feminism in Literature: A Gale Critical Companion. Lilach Lachman is a poet and independent scholar living in Israel. She has written extensively on modern Israeli poetry. Her articles on Romantic poetry appeared in Poetics Today, Comparative Literature, and British Romanticism and the Jews. Her essays on Dickinson appeared in Gothic Studies and in Emily Dickinson Journal. Perhaps the Heart (selection of poems and letters of Emily Dickinson edited and translated by her) has been recently published (Tel-Aviv, Resling 2006). She has edited an anthology of Hebrew, Yiddish and Arabic lullabies forthcoming in EvenHoshen (Israel) and is currently writing a book on the work of the Israeli poet Avot Yeshurun. Sohui Lee is a lecturer at Stanford University and Assistant Director of the Hume Writing Center. She has published articles and essays in Symbiosis: A Journal of Anglo-American Literary Relations, American Periodicals, Romanticism on the Net, Britain and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History: A Multidisciplinary Encyclopedia (2005), and in Sullen Fires Across the Atlantic: Essays in Romanticism (2006). Kari Lokke is Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Davis. She is the author of Gérard de Nerval: The Poet as Social Visionary (1987), Tracing Women’s Romanticism: Gender, History and Transcendence (Winner of the 2005 Jean-Pierre Barricelli Book Prize) and co-editor, with Adriana Craciun, of Rebellious Hearts: British Women Writers and the French Revolution (2001). Her research and teaching interests include women poets of the Romantic era, Romantic aesthetics and historiography, and theories of myth. Larry Peer is Professor of Comparative Literature at Brigham Young University. He is author or editor of a number of scholarly volumes, including Romanticism: Comparative Discourses, Inventing the Individual, The Romantic Manifesto, and The Reasonable Romantic. He has also produced numerous essays and books of poetry. He is the Executive Director of the International Conference on Romanticism.


Romantic Border Crossings

Marjean D. Purinton is Professor of English and Associate Dean of the University Honors College at Texas Tech University. She is the author of Romantic Ideology Unmasked: The Mentally Constructed Tyrannies in Dramas of William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, and Joanna Baillie and Staging Grotesques and Ghosts: British Romantic Techno-Gothic Drama. She has also written numerous articles on late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century drama, women writers, and pedagogy. Dr Purinton is a member of the Texas Tech University Teaching Academy and teaches Honors courses, as well as courses in English and Women’s Studies. Bronwyn Rivers is the author of Women at Work in the Victorian Novel (Edwin Mellen Press). She completed her doctorate in English literature at the University of Oxford and wrote this article as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of New South Wales. Miriam L. Wallace is Associate Professor of British and American literature at New College of Florida. Her research centers on the late eighteenth- early nineteenthcentury British radical novel, and her work has appeared in Narrative, European Romantic Review, SECC, SVEC, Woolf Studies Annual, and Feminist Teacher. She won an NEH College Teacher’s grant to write her monograph, Revolutionary Subjects in the English “Jacobin” Novel (forthcoming, Bucknell UP). Work begun during an NEH Summer Seminar on “Romantic-era Fiction” has developed into an edited collection, Enlightening Romanticism, Romancing Enlightenment: British Fiction 1750-1830, (forthcoming, Ashgate Press). Co-Winner of the ASECS Shirley Bill Teaching Award for 1996-97 for a collaborative course on “The French Revolution and the Cultural Imagination,” she is presently co-editing “Novel Prospects: Teaching Romantic-Era Fiction,” a special issue of Romantic Pedagogy Commons.


Heterotopia and Romantic Border Crossings Jeffrey Cass University of Louisiana at Monroe

I—Romanticism, Comparative Literature and the Trope of Death This volume approaches the disciplinary and intellectual anxieties and crises surrounding comparatist studies, particularly as they intersect with Romanticism, itself an unsettled and frequently occluded subject, not only for the bulk of British Romanticists who aim their critical gaze, which at times appears to be shrinking and at others seems to be enlarging, but for the outlying Romanticists who work on American, European, and other non-Western romanticisms. Indeed, the fusing of comparativism with Romanticism produces such a dizzying array of possibilities, that any intention to establish generic, periodic, theoretical, or professional distinctiveness—of placing permanent border fences around anything—is doomed to fail because the demarcating lines are always in flux. As a result, this volume intends to destabilize distinctions that are often brought to bear in the service of marking national boundaries and promoting theoretical absolutes, but it also recognizes as well that the “crossings” that comprise this clutch of essays do travel across recognizable trails and traces, inasmuch as they are the borders, both conventional and convenient, that have traditionally fenced the fields and practices of comparative literature and of romanticism. When Jeffrey Cox and Jill Heydt-Stevenson focused the profession’s attention on the issue of cosmopolitanism for the 2004 NASSR conference, for example, they did so with “a contested sense” of its historical meaning and global significance, thereby raising numerous questions, such as “Was it merely a mask for imperialism and the spread of global capitalism or was there a viable vision of world citizenship, global democracy, and transnational institutions that offered an important alternative to local attachments, patriotism, and international war and expropriation?” (131). Cox and Heydt-Stevenson’s engagements with the global and transnational crisscrossed traditional lines of Romanticist inquiry, thereby allowing non-traditional ones to percolate to the surface. Of this dazzling eclecticism they write: We learned about Jewish cosmopolitanism and cosmopolitan terror, Gothic cosmopolitanism and cosmopolitan worms, about traveling, scrap-booking, slavery, and war, about sailors, weavers, and castrati; we were treated to papers about Hölderlin, the Shelleys, Rousseau, Rammohun Roy, Coleridge, Goethe, José Maria Blanco White, Austen, Godwin, Phillis Wheatley, Hunt, Hegel, William Jones, Gogol, Scott, Kant, the Wordsworths, Charlotte


Romantic Border Crossings Smith, Emerson, Beethoven, and “DJ Vassa,” among many others. There were sessions and papers on music architecture, painting, philosophy, science, economics, geography, history, and demography. Speakers took us to Italy and India, Egypt and Albania, the East and West Indies, France, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Russian, the United States, and Australia, Brazil, Mexico and China, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. (131–2)

This geographic and thematic cornucopia is the comparatist ideal, and it clearly signals that even within the lone context of British Romanticism, the boundaries (if they exist at all) are not only unstable, they actually riot outward from Greenwich to the ends of the earth and back again. As Fedwa Malti-Douglas might suggest, this is not your father’s or mother’s Romanticism, which, according to conventional wisdom, concentrates on local concerns, withdrawing from the urban center or from the inter- or intracultural interrogations and interventions that the above list giddily outlines. Perhaps understandably, some comparatists have not welcomed this eclecticism, viewing its helter-skelter enthusiasms as an alarming threat to disciplinarity—a menace that must be actively resisted. The disintegration of borders suggests submitting themselves to the loss of professional territory and to the unwanted invasion of monolingual critics who explore outside their disciplinary niches and linguistic skill sets. Yet even the comparatists who do share this globalizing perspective, who hear what Malti-Douglas refers to as the “call of the siren” and wish to navigate comparative literature as “a world without limits” (182), fear the consequences of these new investigative styles and practices. “Certainly, many a nay-sayer will not be quite ready yet to take the plunge into these rapids,” Malti-Douglas writes, “carrying on his or her shoulder the aging body of the old comparative literature. But so be it. It is precisely because it is not our father’s Comp Lit. that we can infuse new life into the field” (182). This is one of the first hints that “the aging body” of our comparatist paterfamilias is not only sagging but moribund as well, for Malti-Douglas’s last metaphor is as much about impending death, as it is about phoenix-like rejuvenation. It is a metaphor that is repeated over and over in comparative literature, a tropological fixation that, as we shall see, unfortunately prevents many practitioners from simply practicing because they are obsessed with whether or not they still exist professionally. While this volume does wed Romantic and comparatist profusion and interpenetration, this volume also testifies to a process of decentering that suggests that comparative literature as such—father’s and son’s, mother’s and daughter’s— may have had more flexibility and alterity after all, subverting the trope of death that is at work in much contemporary discussion about the “field” and is additionally already aligned in spirit with the cosmopolitanism of the new Romanticism and even migrating toward it. In other words, preserving the “field” of comparative literature does not necessarily mean killing the disciplinary father, any more than it did for Romanticists as they expanded into previously uncontested critical spaces and, in the process, created new ones. Nor does it mean accepting what Djelal Kadir sarcastically refers to as comparative literature’s paradigm shift into “Whatever” (68) or, as he more challengingly argues, into the “perils of dissensus”—a condition of “pluralist multiplicity” in extremis (68). Critical of the new critical regimes in “Comparative Literature,” Kadir believes that “dissensus” degenerates into an indiscriminate

Introduction: Heterotopia and Romantic Border Crossings


“balkanization of world literary cultures” (75). Kadir’s grim evaluation of the state of comparative literature in 2004 (the same moment that the NASSR conference on cosmopolitanism is occurring) affirms a situation that is both noisily solipsistic and stridently incommunicative. The discipline exists only as “nostalgia” (76), in a world in which no comparatist dares to “argue against the supersession of monolingualism, presentism, and narcissism” (76). Ironically, while criticizing Spivak (his chief critical antagonist), Kadir also anticipates her, for when the comparatist ‘discipline’ no longer functions except as a hunger for memory, when it can no longer produce a visionary future, it has effectively expired. One suspects that Kadir would also not have very flattering things to say about the current state of the “field” of Romanticism and its own proliferating “dissensus.” Though I have written principally about British Romantic women writers, as well as making various excursions into the field of popular culture, I was actually trained as a scholar of comparative literature. After nearly twenty years of teaching British, American, and World literature courses, in the Spring 2005 semester, the new chair of my department actually requested that I teach a graduate course in comparative literature. I was delighted to return to the scene of my graduate school beginnings, and I set about making the necessary preparations to conduct a graduate seminar that outlined comparative literature as a discipline. But when I began once again to re-read and research in the areas of comparative literature, I discovered a highly disconcerting fact—the discipline of my youth had been declared dead. Gayatri Spivak had said so in her recent book, Death of a Discipline, shortly before the arrival of Kadir’s trenchant criticism. Of course, Spivak means the death of “old” comparative literature, that of the émigré European intellectuals who populated America’s universities after World War II. These critical gods demanded a full knowledge of the language before one could rightfully say anything about texts written in languages other than English or their interrelationships with other nonEnglish texts. Instead, Spivak envisions a “responsible comparativism” which “must approach culturally diversified ethical systems diachronically, through the history of multicultural empires, without foregone conclusions” (12–13). No longer trapped in linguistic prisons of their own making, practitioners of “responsible comparativism” would be able, through the efforts of those in translation studies, to extend their inquiries into areas of literature that would traditionally be closed off to them and thereby refashion a discipline that appeared culturally conservative and antihybridist. Quoting herself, Spivak contends: “The verbal text is jealous of its linguistic signature but impatient of national identity. Translation flourishes by virtue of that paradox” (9). The tension between the knowledge of language bounded by national identity and the eruption of that language in newly translated and professionally appropriated texts did not, from this perspective, appear sustainable. The dam having burst, it was not only high time to mourn the Auerbachs, the Curtiuses, and the Levins lost in the ensuing flood, but to pursue a new version of comparative literature and train a new breed of comparatist as well. Of course, even in graduate school in the 80s, most of us knew that the field was in “crisis,” to employ René Wellek’s oft-cited term, but I had no idea that my impending graduate course, if Spivak were correct, would essentially be a postmortem, an autopsy of my own comparatist education, particularly one


Romantic Border Crossings

that celebrated a “logofratrocentric notion of collectivity” (Spivak’s phrase 32). Stunningly, many scholars seemed to agree with Spivak’s assessment, applauding the dissolution of the masculinist, Eurocentric, imperialist fraternity that had (seemingly) comprised the discipline of comparative literature. Susan Bassnett, for example, urges a disciplinary move to Translation Studies since “binary comparative studies” [“old” comparative literature] stood firmly against the idea of translation. A good comparatist, according to the binary model, “would read original texts in the original languages, an infinitely superior form of reading than any which involved translation” (139). To deconstruct the privileging of linguistic knowledge, Bassnett (like Spivak) mines Derrida, suggesting that “the source text…is not an original at all, it is an elaboration of an idea, of a meaning, in short it is in itself a translation” (151). She further claims: The logical consequences of Derrida’s thinking about translation would be the abolition of the dichotomy between original and translation, between source and copy, and hence an end to the view that relegates translation to a secondary position. (151)

At the conclusion to Comparative Literature, in fact, Bassnett puts the final dagger in the heart of traditional comparative literature and its moldy emphasis on linguistic knowledge. She suggests, “An era is over,” for comparative literature “has had its day,” failing to define itself and at the same time “rejecting calls for clearer definitions of scope and methodology, while translation studies has concerned itself with texts and with contexts, with practice and with theory” (160). Comparative literature will now simply have to be a mere “subsidiary” to translation studies, which has willingly embraced women’s studies, cultural studies, and postcolonial theory. Death as the ultimate trope for scholarly change in comparative literature also is rooted in the work of David Damrosch, whose brilliant book, What is World Literature? outlines several examples of study in world literature (in translation), paralleling the ideas of Bassnett and Spivak. Of a definition of world literature, Damrosch intones: “The idea of world literature can usefully continue to mean a subset of the plenum of literature. I take world literature to encompass all literary works that circulate beyond their culture of origin, either in translation or in their original language…a work only has an effective life as world literature whenever, and wherever, it is actively present within a literary system beyond that of its original culture” (emphasis Damrosch’s, 4). Damrosch’s emphasis of “effective,” as well as his notion of ‘circulation’ implies that the life of literature depends on foreign blood being pumped into communities of readers and writers who incorporate “other” texts into their theoretical models in order to defamiliarize canons and destabilize cherished interpretive regimes. When the blood stops, death results because “world literature” becomes for Damrosch “as much about the host’s cultures, values and needs as it is about a work’s source culture” (282). Not coincidentally, the cover art for Damrosch’s book reproduces Baron Dominique Vivant Denon’s sketch Napoleon’s Scientists Studying the Sphinx at Giza (1802). It depicts some of Napoleon’s scientists measuring the Sphinx, dropping a plumb line above the Sphinx’s head, as if to capture it by numerically circumscribing it. For Damrosch the sketch is ironic because the French miserably “failed to dominate the Egyptian culture that Napoleon tried to reorganize along

Introduction: Heterotopia and Romantic Border Crossings


French lines” (pace Said) and thus take “her true measure” (303). The Sphinx’s lips part “as if to speak, but not to question the ephemeral mortals, whose presence she ignores” (303). Instead, Damrosch apotheosizes her as an ekphrasis of all literary speech. “She greets Amun Re,” Damrosch concludes, “Lord of the Two Lands, who rises at dawn without fail, perfect each day, to shine in power on his eternal kingdom” (303). Damrosch’s poetic views about the nature, scope, and circulation of world literature impact comparative literature. Damrosch, Spivak, and Bassnett eschew a literary ideology that constructs absolute national boundaries, draws linguistic lines of demarcation, and obstinately clings to traditional norms of scholarship and erudition that exclude transnational literary forms, versions, genres, and authors. And they also recognize the utopianism of post-war comparative literature in its desire to be the “grand corrective” for nationalism and its political unsavory adherents and beliefs. Once accomplished through European unification, comparatists might just as well “commit suicide,” as Albert Guérard suggests in the Yearbook of Comparative and General Literature in 1958 (Damrosch 282). Creepily drawing upon yet another death metaphor, Damrosch rightly points out that not only did this utopian ideal not come to pass, it was doomed to fail since even the word “national” is itself problematic. “Works become world literature by being received into the space of a foreign culture,” Damrosch writes, “a space defined in many ways by the host culture’s national tradition and the present needs of its own writers” (283). Perhaps just as interesting is Damrosch’s next sentence, which might make a traditional comparatist cringe: Even a single work of world literature is the locus of a negotiation between two different cultures. The receiving culture can use the material in all sorts of ways: as a positive model for the future development of its own tradition; as a negative vase of a primitive; or, more neutrally, as an image of radical otherness against which the home tradition can more clearly be defined. (283)

The internment of comparative literature into the graveyard of shopworn theories allows Spivak, Bassnett, and Damrosch to “negotiate” emergent literary spaces; to make theoretical border crossings; to annex those in professional diaspora and literary marginality; to establish a planetary collectivity (Spivak finds “global” too complicit with capitalism), to encourage a new generation of cross-cultural readers to adopt “radical otherness” as a model for the construction of self. While Spivak, Bassnett, and Damrosch’s desire for the openness and transformation of the self into radical other, into the search for border crossings, is laudable and (for the purposes of this collection) necessary, they also set up comparative literature as a straw man, not only not actively engaging with the published works of comparative literature over the last decade, but assuming as well that comparative literature itself has not morphed or cannot alter into different shapes or ideological contours. Indeed, publications in comparative literature have exploded, belying the trope of death that has, for many theorists, conveniently attaching itself to criticisms of comparative literature while denying the obvious accumulation of scholarship and research. Ironically, it is comparativism that underlies the postcolonial diaspora and the


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contours of cultural studies, it is comparativism that gives life to the newly positioned Translation Studies, and it is comparativism that has breathed life into World Literature, so that its exponents and practitioners no longer have to justify themselves as something more than occasional tourists dabbling in the multiplicity of national literatures. In short, the actual research that has taken place in comparative literature does not square with the powerful theoretical criticisms of its alleged demise. A sampling of the works in comparative literature, particularly in the area of essay collection, published in the last decade illustrates this paradox. Many collections interrogate the very “othered” diversity Spivak, Bassnett, and Damrosch affirm as necessary for critics of cross-cultural encounters.1 This healthy, even voluminous, interest in comparative literature (sometimes in the guise of cross-cultural encounters) makes room for theoretically current views and abstrusely traditional ones, for critics with mastery of multiple languages and those who work with translations. It is a comparative literature fully capable of collaborating with the frameworks of cultural studies, postcolonial theory, and multiculturalism. The sheer scope and breadth of the essays contained by these collections and monographs is staggering—hybrid forms in German Romanticism; Turkish oral epic poetry; recent Mongolian oral literature; the “occidental” folk narrative; the Norse legends; the epic connections between Keats and Miyazawa; the parallels between Oshima and Byron’s Don Juan; the media’s relationship to comparative literature, the state of comparative literature in India, Slovenia, the United States, and Palestine; Chinese comparative literature and cultural studies; African-American literature, comparative literature, and satire—and the topics list goes on and on. Perhaps, to borrow from Mark Twain, reports of the death of comparative literature are greatly exaggerated. But those reports need to be examined, for the contemporary fusion of Romantic interests with comparative impulses in this volume reveals a desire not only to strike new

1 See: Charles Bernheimer’s Comparative Literature in the Age of Multiculturalism (1995), John C. Hawley’s Cross-Addressing: Resisting Literature and Cultural Borders (1996), Harris and Reichl’s Prosimetrum: Crosscultural Perspectives on Narrative in Prose and Verse (1997), Masaki Mori’s Epic Grandeur: Toward a Comparative Poetics of the Epic (1997), Yingjin Zhang’s China in a Polycentric World: Essays in Chinese Comparative Literature (1998), Takayuki Yokota-Murakami, Don Juan East/West: On the Problematics of Comparative Literature (1998), Bery and Murray’s Comparing Postcolonial Literatures: Dislocations, Simerka and Weimer’s Echoes and Inscriptions: Comparative Approaches to Early Modern Spanish Literature, Stevenson and Ho’s Crossing the Bridge: Comparative Essays on Medieval European Women and Heian Japanese Women Writers (2000), E.S. Shaffer’s Comparative Criticism: Fantastic Currencies in Comparative Literature: Gothic to Postmodern (2002), Tötösy de Zepetnek’s Comparative Literature and Comparative Cultural Studies (2003). Full-length monographs also tell a very different tale. Consider Luce LópezBaralt’s book Islam in Spanish Literature: From the Middle Ages to the Present (1992), Syrine Chafic Hout’s Viewing Europe from the Outside: Cultural Encounters and Critiques in the Eighteenth-Century Pseudo-Oriental Travelogue and the Nineteenth-Century ‘Voyage en Orient’ (1997), Erik Ingvar Thurin’s study The American Discovery of the Norse: An Episode in Nineteenth-Century American Literature (1999), Ala A. Alryyes’ Original Subjects: The Child, the Novel, and the Nation (2001), or Quian Ma’s Feminist Utopian Discourse in Eighteenth-Century Chinese and English Fiction (2004).

Introduction: Heterotopia and Romantic Border Crossings


ground with new professional partners, but to affirm as well a longing to return home and appropriate the renewed energies of comparative literature that is always and already revitalizing itself through metamorphic redefinition. The ongoing relevance of comparative literature derives, in the words of Haun Saussey, in the “Romantic themes of its intellectual origins: the nation as a project, the poetics of the fragment, the totalizing resistance to totality” (x). In short, a healthy comparative literature demands that it always be in crisis, that it never settle on disciplinary closure, and that it not relinquish either its Romantic genesis or Romantic (re)iterations. Furthermore, as Wai-Chi Dimock forcefully argues in her fascinating new book, Through Other Continents: American Literature Across Deep Time, “The continuum of historical life does not grant the privilege of autonomy to any temporal segment. The nation, as a segmenting device, is vulnerable, for just that reason. It is constantly stretched, punctured, and infiltrated. Territorial sovereignty is poor prophylactic” (4). For many practitioners of comparative literature, the conventional boundaries of nationalism that have sometimes marked its “territorial” divisions have created the illusion of bureaucratic autonomy, professional independence, and theoretical separateness. As an Americanist in search of “deep time” for a national literature that is chronologically only two hundred years old, Dimock seeks a “world system” that “can bear the explanatory weight of deep structural transformations” (5). And though she intends to strengthen and deepen our understanding of American literature and American literary history, Dimock strives for literary analysis that performs comparatist tracings, that globalizes local phenomena, that fulfills (as she herself indicates) the “sojourn” of planetarity called for by Spivak. We must, therefore, always comparatize literature by destabilizing literary bureaucracies, “puncturing” territorial landscapes, disintegrating national and international boundaries, erasing our separateness—from each other and certainly from other fields that would keep us out because of their own desire for professional distinctiveness. Comparatizing may mean reaching out to areas such as anthropology, sociology, the visual and performing arts, biology, economics, psychology, linguistics, to fields that as yet have no name. Like Dimock, we must recognize the illusion of “discrete entities,” focusing instead on literature as “a crisscrossing set of pathways, open-ended and ever multiplying, weaving in and out of other geographies, other languages and cultures. These are input channels, kinship networks, routes of transit, and forms of attachment” (3). Though intended as a reconceptualization of American literature that threads “the long [time] durations” of other cultures into “the short chronology of the United States,” Dimock’s notion of “deep time” alerts us to the transdisciplinary, transhistorical, translated journeys we must make that “weave our history into our dwelling place, and make us what we are, a species with a sedimented footprint” (6).2 2 Dimock conceives of her book as reflecting the “sea change” in the identity of politics of nationalism, with her work as part of the conversation in transnational and postnational thinking. Her notions of “deep time” thus take the reader through topics as diverse as Emerson and the Bhagavad Gita, Margaret Fuller and ancient Egypt, Henry James and world systems, and Pacific Rim ecologies that embrace both Chinese Monkey via Maxine Hong Kingston and Gerald Vizenor, as well as Sanskrit Coyote via the Beat Generation. Dimock’s commitment to the interconnectedness of world literatures leads her to the following conclusion:


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II—The Translation Gateway to Elsewhere: Heterotopia and Romantic Border Crossings In his almost ethereal essay, “Comparative Literature: The Delay in Translation,” Stanley Corngold contests the notion of comparative literature as “a kind of translation, and being a practice less transparent than translation, should take translation as its model” (139).3 As a result, the “fidelity” between source text and target text emerges as a liminal prosopopeia because faithfulness from one linguistic context to the other becomes the overriding criterion for judgment and critical acceptance. Taking his cue from Walter Benjamin’s essay “The Task of the Translator,” Corngold attempts to subvert this reduction of comparative literature to linguistic competence and fidelity by arguing that “analogies between literary objects” are not truly “analogous” but relational. That relation is neither “readable on the surface” (141), nor something to be excavated by sheer force of interpretive will. Instead, the linguistic still point of this relation produces a “play of languages [that] issues forth into languagelessness and a patient abiding in the place where language-is-about-to-be” (142). Comparative literature must not merely be the “midwife” to translated text, it must “stand firm” against quick association, imperfect relation, damaged analogy, even easy belief in linguistic fidelity in order to maintain “the discipline of this mystic thing—like language, underlying language, in between language pieces—accounted audible and silent, archaic and new. Comparative literature is a disciplined mysticism” (143). Corngold suggests that the comparatist retains full potential by not immediately translating source text to target text, but by linking himself to and remaining in the “moment of pure possibility” (144). Yet suspending oneself within this moment of “pure possibility—this Augenblick “packed with futurity” (144)—still seems like yet another trope for death, for at the moment of translation, the comparatist paradoxically unravels futurity by speaking. Even Sandra Berman, one of the editors of the collection in which Corngold’s essay appears, downplays the vitality of The body will grow stiff regardless of nationality. The physicality of each of us is much older than any of these recent divisions. In moments like this, when the baseline of life is extinguished and asserted at one and the same time, when the duration of an individual comes to an end, while deep time continues, we know that for all races, all nations, and all species, there is only one world (195). 3 For radically new essays on translation, see the 2004 Fall-Winter issue of Diacritics. José María Rodríguez García’s introduction explains the issue’s intentions: In the wake of the poststructuralist critique of both representation and referentiality, the impossibility of translating one culture into another is taken for granted. To argue that literary works are translatable, it has become necessary to explain how the alternatively foreignizing and nationalizing maneuvers of the translator point toward the asymmetries in the exchanges. This enterprise involves investigating the various ways in which the appropriation, and even expropriation, of the other’s image is carried out” (3). Still, despite the “impossibility of translating one culture into another,” writers in the issue still take on comparatist agendas. See Rosemary Arrojo’s essay “Translation, Transference, and the Attraction to Otherness—Borges, Menard, Whitman” (31–53) and Vera M. Kutzinski’s piece “Fearful Asymmetries: Langston Hughes, Nicolás Guillén, and Cuba Libre” (112–42).

Introduction: Heterotopia and Romantic Border Crossings


translation: “A translation can at best inscribe a subsequent understanding, detailed in a new language that can never repeat the original but, at the most, touch it from the point of a tangent, allowing it to live into the future along a new and different line” (263). The best translation is the one that never begins. The best translation is ultimately a tangent. The best translation can only occur for those lucky enough (and lonely enough) to be able to remain mired in a “languageless” condition because of their intuitive knowledge of languages. Though not intended as such, these gloomy assessments do not at all address the needs of professional practitioners who joyfully read and write for a living, who bring their comparisons to the classroom for examination and debate, who look to the future with more than a mystical hope for linguistic nothingness and spiritual silence. Corngold is right about the “futurity” of comparative literature, but it is not the reorientation of translation into a “disciplined mysticism” that silences the siren’s call to negotiate a world without limits; rather it is the transportation of the reader to thriving heterotopias, those gateways to elsewhere, which are the key to the future of our profession. Hence, the more appropriate metaphor for the current state of affairs in both the theories and practices of comparative literature and Romanticism is not death but creative chaos—a mass of whizzing rhizomes that form unpredictable alliances and contrive unpredictable connections, spreading out to the four corners of the globe and taking root in unimagined heterotopian landscapes. As Deleuze and Guattari might suggest, critics must “follow the rhizome by rupture; lengthen, prolong, and relay the line of flight…” (11). Previous sampling of collections and monographs suggests just such a plantar branching out, a disciplinary “rupture” in a breathtaking number of directions, including intersections with the general field of this collection of essays—comparative Romanticisms. Within the field of comparative Romanticism, two previous collections highlight these rhizomic intersections: Larry H. Peer and Diane Hoeveler’s Comparative Romanticisms: Power, Gender, Subjectivity (1998), Gregory Maertz’s Cultural Interactions in the Romantic Age: Critical Essays in Comparative Literature (1998), and more recently, Larry H. Peer and Diane Hoeveler’s Romanticism: Comparative Discourses (2006). In the introduction to their first collection of essays on the subject, Larry Peer and Diane Hoeveler succinctly formulate the problem: An approach that disdains interrelations between literary movements, generations, periods, and both cross-linguistic and interdisciplinary sources and influences will tend to submit any concept or conceptual framework to a dogmatic and authoritarian set of preconceptions, where even the use of terms may be garbled. (1)

This passage suggests a critique about the fluidity of comparative literature studies in general and as we shall see, comparative romanticisms in particular. Spivak, Bassnett, and Damrosch focus their critical attention on the problematic nature of coherence and unity as fixed literary categories for the study of comparative literature, but Peer and Hoeveler urge a “rethinking” of these categories “that avoids the kind of critical explication limited to single national, linguistic, or cultural traditions, or seen through too narrowly applied contemporary theoretical ‘-isms’” (3). And while it may be true that comparative literature’s early desire for universality generated


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ammunition for its critics (René Wellek believed that views of Romanticism had reached a “stabilization of opinion” 221), more contemporary studies evince a markedly destabilized and destabilizing set of principles. In a different vein, Gregory Maertz argues that comparative literature has always been a “subversive” discipline” (1), but he acknowledges that “ideological friction” within the field, the shattering successes of literary theory, the reduced language requirements in graduate curricula, and the depth of fiscal crises in the profession have contributed to the dwindling interest in comparative literature. He adds that the “disciplinary raison d’etre of comparative literature has become so eroded that the goods it offers to the intellectual are virtually indistinguishable from, and often considered less interesting than or inferior to, many others” (3). In response to this “marginalization,” Maertz offers a collection of essays that reflects the “continuing relevance of comparative approaches to Romanticism” and that offers “a lively ecumenical dialogue between literary history and theory” (3). In this way, he hoped to illustrate several types of cultural interactions during the Romantic period, as well as to open up the field to new kinds of studies, to demonstrate the flexibility and usefulness of the comparative perspective. Maertz cites several collections as setting the stage for these kinds of studies, notably Anne K. Mellor’s Romanticism and Feminism (1988); Roy Porter and Mikulás Teich’s Romanticism in National Context (1988); and Kenneth R. Johnston, Gilbert Chaitin, Karen Hanson, and Herbert Marks’s Romantic Revolutions (1990). “Just as European borders in the Romantic Age were fluid and permeable,” Maertz contends, “cultural identity fostered through interaction was similarly elastic” (4). Elasticity permits studies in comparative romanticism to reach out and cross across the borders that loom large in our figurations of one another and of ourselves. It is not merely utopian impulse; rather, it is, to borrow Frederick Burwick’s phrase from his essay title, heterotopian—the gateway to elsewhere—to remote and previously inaccessible otherness. The recent work in global Romanticism by critics such as Joseph Lew, Greg Kucich, Tim Fulford, Debbie Lee, and Peter Kitson only provides additional proof that the revivification of comparative studies lies in a type of criticism that engages literature in various forms of historical alterity and marginality, an analysis that pushes past the seemingly unchanging, unopposed, and unexamined boundaries of nation and nationalism but truly never arrives at new destinations or settles new lands—always in migration, always in the act of crossing. In his spectacular essay, “The Last Man and the New History,” Greg Kucich asks why Mary Shelley has constructed “the historical framework” of her second novel “with such a staggering multiplicity of temporal vantage points” (3). He exclaims: The narrative looks forward prophetically to the twenty-first century, from the Sibyl’s perspective; it looks backward, for the “Author,” into the “covered fragments of old Roman villas,” and forward into the fractured future etched out on the Sibyl’s leaves. It pauses retrospectively, for Verney, on the ruins of Rome and dwells still more poignantly on the recent history of his departed friends and family, while also grimly prophesying an errant future of ceaseless global migration. The whirligig of time set in motion by these cross currents of historical perspective, we might speculate, functions both expose the limitations of mainstream historiography and to promote a new form of the revisionary

Introduction: Heterotopia and Romantic Border Crossings


personalized history that Shelley was learning from her female predecessors and contemporaries.

Kucich hits upon the precise metaphor of this volume—“an errant future of ceaseless global migration—“errant” because Shelley’s “historiographic” vision is forever a wandering one and “ceaseless” because stopping connotes authorial death (for Shelley, for her “Author,” and for Verney). Finally, by “migrating” globally, Verney forever shifts the contours of his exploration and inspection, for his journey cannot result in colonizing a new land or establishing a permanent home. For Verney (and for us), the gateway to heterotopia always lies elsewhere, in “the whirligig of time.” For practitioners of Romanticism to retain their powerful subversiveness, they must ceaselessly migrate, living in the otherness that gives rise to their productive and creative comparativeness. In a special issue of European Romantic Review, entitled British Romanticism: Global Crossings, editors Alan Richardson and Elizabeth Fay rightfully announce the “proliferation of crossings in recent Romantic studies”—“formal, generic and genetic hybrids, the blurring or flouting of gender lines, political and literary conspiracies, aesthetic transvaluations and surprising discursive conjunction” (i). As Kucich might say, Romantic studies, particularly those that once were hermetically sealed within the British Isles, have migrated, almost frenetically, to all parts of the globe. And as Fay and Richardson contend, even the once taken-for-granted sign of “British” identity has become “internally fractured, uncertainly bounded, stretched through the global implications of Romantic imperialism and colonialism” (i). This recent re-conceptualization of the Romantic period has led Fulford, Lee, and Kitson to suggest that even the primacy of inwardness as a trope of the Romantic mind must be reconfigured, since its power still depends upon a first search for something beyond itself, or, as they aptly describe this “shift as looking beyond to see in” (5). III—The Essays in this Collection Not surprisingly, Fred Burwick, whose essay opens this collection and whose work has consistently crisscrossed national and other theoretical boundaries, directly addresses this re-conceptualization when he speaks of the theater as the supreme site for encountering otherness. Citing Robert Young’s White Mythologies, Burwick argues that representations of the Orient, among other things, point to the West’s “dislocation” from itself, a desire to vicariously meet cultural others and to enter into “the inside/outside disjunctures” that heterotopian narratives reify. The stage offers a vivid and intense voyeuristic enactment of otherness, achievable precisely because of the intense performativity and the hyperbolic artifices embedded within Romantic theatricality. Even docu-drama, a dramatic form that gained popularity during the period, Burwick writes, “is marked by the inherent difference of the performative act.” Burwick gives Charles Dibdin’s Edward and Susan; or, the Beauty of Buttermere and The Gamblers as two of the most sensational of the period plays, the first recalling the actions of the swindler and bigamist, John Hatfield, while the second exploits the notorious crimes of the murderer, John Thurtell. Burwick cites these plays as examples of theatrical representation, which not only do not


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confirm social and cultural codes of conduct, they actually “displace” the social and ethical practices that “ground” codified rules of behavior. “Their aestheticization as dramatic performance,” Burwick says, parallels De Quincey’s artistic principle of idem in alio—“identity in alterity, sameness in difference.” Furthermore, idem in alio provides the very “two-way interaction” that becomes the staple for all Romantic border crossings, for “What is familiar is rendered strange; what is strange is rendered familiar.” Burwick then explores transcultural interactions, the dimensions of heterotopic ‘elsewheres’, in the French, Spanish, and Oriental settings of such plays as Elizabeth Inchbald’s Animal Magnetism (1788), Hannah Cowley’s A Bold Stroke For Husband (1783), Friedrich Schiller’s Die Räuber (1781), August von Kotzebue’s Die Spanier in Peru (1795), George Colman’s Blue-beard (1798), Felicia Hemans’s Siege of Valencia (1823), and Lord Byron’s Sardanapalus (1821). Theoretically locating much of the Orientalized Otherness within the framework of Said’s Orientalism, Burwick concludes that the “elsewhere” represented on the Romantic stage “provides a matrix for authorial manipulation of levels of reference.” But far from reinforcing the social and cultural stereotypes that separate the audience from the characters on the stage, such a matrix actually breaks down the walls of seeming separation between the audience and the cultural others that they briefly but profoundly encounter. Valerie Henitiuk and Talissa Ford both confront the problem of writers acknowledging and then representing the boundary conditions that frame their social, cultural, and political conditioning. Following Terry Castle, Henitiuk interrogates the “exquisite extremism” of Inchbald’s novel A Simple Story by focusing on Inchbald’s “need to cross borderlines,” even as “external and internal forces” prevent her from doing so. For Henitiuk, the tension between these competing impulses manifests itself in terms of the liminal moments that Lady Matilda, the novel’s heroine, shares with her father, Lord Elmwood, whose powerful expectations constrain Matilda within a patriarchal ethos. Liminality is dangerous precisely because its presence points to the “revolutionary implications” of alternatives, but it is also necessary if the “liminar” (in this case Lady Matilda) is to imagine and break through the ordinary, institutional structures that bound (and bind) her, organizing her life around restrictive community principles. Henitiuk fixes upon the paradoxical arrangement surrounding Matilda living with her father, in which she can only dwell with him on the condition that she never make her presence known, and asserts that Matilda’s presence through absence deconstructs the thoroughgoing patriarchal dominance that Matilda must endure. “As daughter to a disgraced mother and a tyrannical father,” Henitiuk cleverly argues, “Matilda is literally taboo,” reinforcing the continual threat to Lord Elmwood’s authority simply by her existence. She remains a liminal figure since she simultaneously lives on the protected periphery of her father’s estate, yet she also draws attention to the harsh boundaries he wishes put in place. In her essay, “Byron Under the Black Flag,” Talissa Ford highlights Byron’s playful journal entry that he will cut off his own son if he becomes a writer, bringing him up in an alternative profession, mentioning the possibility of raising a pirate instead of a poet. Having just completed The Corsair, Byron exploits the liminality of his son’s infancy in order to demonstrate a “new and piratical way of understanding how territory works: borders mean nothing, and movement is

Introduction: Heterotopia and Romantic Border Crossings


everything.” Unlike the Turks, who threaten national and international boundaries, pirates recognize no boundaries at all. Citing Captain Johnson’s A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates (1724) as the most notorious example of romanticized stories of pirates, Ford argues that A General History becomes an important pre-text for Byron’s emerging post-Corsair ideas because the book embodies his frustration against governments and their regulations, which perforce restrict and control the actions of their citizens. At the same moment that Napoleon is being “repeatedly knocked from his pedestal,” Ford states: “Byron catches a low-grade piratical fever,” which manifests itself in both Beppo and Don Juan. Pirates reify the radical elements of the Glorious Revolution, and they are even multicultural. As Ford observes, “Pirates were, in fact and fiction, multi-racial and multi-national—or rather, super-racial and super-national—composed of races and nationalities, integrated—and to some extent abandoned—under the Jolly Roger.” This is not to say that pirates have no governance; indeed, Byron perhaps sees their allegiance to their outlaw leaders as a necessary predisposition toward egalitarianism and democracy in an unegalitarian and undemocratic age. A “dematerialization of borders” provides the precondition for a new government and a new society— homelessness and displacement are not merely states of being, they are processes and movements that constitute cultural practices that both produce and reproduce as expressions of political freedom and movement, and as communitarian celebrations of libertarian impulse and enhanced social circulation. Though Azérad, Broszeit-Rieger, and Dillmann have written essays that fall within the traditional boundaries of comparative and national literatures, they also call into question the conventional literary and critical models that have most often engaged readers of Gerard de Nerval, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and Gottfried August Bürger. Though recognizing the explanatory power of Said’s theoretical model in Orientalism, which attempts to demonstrate that Nerval’s poetry epitomizes the Western habit of evoking stereotyped representations of the Orient, Azérad views Nerval’s poetry, particularly in its aesthetics, as emblematic of the “utopian side of modernism.” Nerval’s poetry, in fact, embodies “a coherent aesthetic project” that affirms poetic art as process and not as closure or final product. Drawing from the romantic irony of Heine, Schiller, and Jean Paul, Nerval makes use of poetry as “creative opposition.” Fragmenting the narrative through a series of narrative shifts, Nerval effectively transforms the narrator’s voice in Voyage en Orient into a “nomadic presence” that never truly coalesces into a recognizable shape but shimmers as a collection of polyphonic voices. Even Nerval’s use of prose becomes an example of a modernist avant la lettre since he remains psychically attracted yet constitutionally opposed to the “changing cityscape, the ideology of economic progress, [and] the rise of capitalism and positivist thinking.” For Nerval, the Orient lies within. As such, it counters Saidian Orientalism, which renders the Orient passive and external. The ‘I’ of Nerval’s work lives, therefore, in liminality, lying “between a Western incarnation of spleen and an oriental persona.” The narrator inhabits utopian space, which for Azérad suggests a protean subjectivity—always crossing borders, forever homeless, perpetually in transit. In her essay on Goethe’s Wilhelm Meisters Wanderungen, Broszeit-Rieger outlines the ways in which Wilhelm Meister’s “apprenticeship” illustrates “different family


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constructs” and the ways in which they shape an impressionable young man like Wilhelm Meister. Following the psychoanalytic insights of Eissler, Kittler, and Greiner, as well as borrowing from Lawrence Stone’s taxonomy of family structure, BroszeitRieger contends, “Goethe’s Meister stages family in conflict between three family types, and furthermore, that mothering and fathering appear separable from individual characters.” This latter argument ensures that, as a character, Wilhelm Meister never reverts to conventional or traditional type. In fact, there is nothing conservative about the narrative at all, and reluctant to propose a sentimental familial resolution, the novels rely instead on “crossovers between family types, and transgressions of gender and generation.” Though initially predictable in his rejection of the father’s world of business and in his acceptance of the mother’s choice of theater, a stage on which he literally enacts his Oedipal anxieties, the theater ultimately becomes for Wilhelm Meister his occupation, his “business,” his Geschäft. This conclusion hints at an uneasy resolution in which “the motherly world of imagination and the fatherly world of business converge.” The novel may criticize the bourgeois nuclear family, but as it navigates among the family constructs that Goethe describes throughout the narrative, it never quite manages to leave behind its patriarchal ethos. Instead, as Broszeit-Rieger says, Wilhelm Meister “reflects more than just nostalgia” it also urges an alliance between the modern nuclear family and the pre-nuclear family, a convergence that would benefit the individuals and the communities that embraced both types, yet it is a union that does not necessarily promise to be harmonious. Broszeit-Rieger finally proposes, though she does not necessarily endorse, a Butlerian reading of Wilhelm Meister, in which Wilhelm as a young man “engages in the process of becoming a woman, when he rescues Mignon from her abuser,” an iteration of the emotional sympathy he feels for his mother once he recognizes that his mother endures her own process of “becoming” a woman. Drawing on Benjamin Bennett’s Goethe as Woman, Broszeit-Rieger considers an interpretive possibility about “a femininity that escapes patriarchal control”—a “subversive multiplicity,” to use Butler’s term, which calls into question the conventional binaries of gender that underwrite more conventional readings of Wilhelm Meister. Gabriele Dillmann renders August Bürger’s “Lenore” as a poem that not only reflects the conventions of traditional folksong, the theory of which he lifts from Herder’s writings on Volkspoesie, but an affirmation of the privileging of Naturdichtung (natural poetic art) over Kunstdichtung (poetic artistry). Bürger uses the ballad form of “Lenore,” therefore, to extend a kind of naturalized expressiveness to readers who wish to viscerally feel the loss and mourning Bürger represents in “Lenore” and not merely to admire its poetic pyrotechnics. Like Broszeit-Rieger, Dillmann makes use of Freudian psychoanalytic theory, but Dillmann wishes to interrogate the nature of trauma in the poem as a way of confronting “annihilation anxiety,” and not as a means of illustrating the family as an emotional and philosophical construct. Lenore’s loss of her lover results in her wailing grief, displaying both an odd interest in sexual taboo and, a perennial staple for Romantic writers, the temptations of suicide. In addition, and unlike the positive mothering Wilhelm Meister receives in Goethe’s work, in “Lenore,” we discover it is the mother who clings to outmoded religious beliefs, an “imperative to have faith in God’s goodness and wisdom,” which does not provide Lenore with either psychological relief or spiritual comfort. To be sure, Lenore’s

Introduction: Heterotopia and Romantic Border Crossings


inconsolability readily suggests the possibility of fragmentation of personality, but her uncontrollable grief additionally points to a psychological madness that appears indistinguishable from spiritual psychosis. Bürger transfers this desire for death to the realm of the mythical since the lover’s ghost carries her off into the howling forest, rather than permitting Lenore to submit to her suicidal ideation. But Bürger does not resolve the problem of transcending emotional borders through loss and mourning; he merely defers them. For him, grief after loss defies “moralistic” and “ideological self-righteousness,” but it also forms the basis for gothic heterotopia, an unstoppable crossing over into the realm of the spiritually undead. The next trio of essays ranges over cross-disciplinary approaches to historical and literary topics. Miriam Wallace explores the accepted distinctions between “Jacobin novels,” which displayed solidarity with British reform and “Anti-Jacobin novels,” which suggested “a rejection of all that could be associated with ‘Jacobinism.’” “Jacobin,” Wallace rightly points out, “is already marked as a misprision, a foreign political term wrenched from its original significance to serve local political ends.” With publications such as the Anti-Jacobin Weekly (1797), the Anti-Jacobin Magazine and Literary Censor (1798-1821), “Jacobinism” became a demonizing “catch-all” for anyone sympathetic at all to reformist causes or principles. Wallace argues, however, that modern scholarship has tended to “overdetermine” the differences between “Jacobin” and Anti-Jacobin,” such that it has become nearly impossible to discuss, for example, the works of William Godwin or Mary Wollstonecraft without placing within a “Jacobin” context. Furthermore, Wallace claims, “satirical or sentimental narratives that revisit these works” naturally fall under the category of “anti-Jacobin.” In both instances, the revolutionary attitudes of the one and intensely anti-revolutionary ideology of the other preclude a more productive understanding of the terms, particularly since the terms appear historically at the same time, “emerging in complex conversation with continuing debates on reforming political and social institutions.” Indeed, Wallace asserts that the term “anti-Jacobin,” far from being reactive to British Jacobinism, in fact, “creates” and “disciplines” it. Taking as a critical starting point, Gary Kelly’s important work The English Jacobin Novel and its long list of “anti-Jacobin” works, including, among others, Charlotte Smith’s The Banished Man (1794), Jane West’s A Tale of the Times (1799), Elizabeth Hamilton’s Memoirs of Modern Philosophers (1800), Charles Lucas’s The Infernal Quixote (1801), Wallace attempts to problematize what we mean by the term “antiJacobin,” effectively concluding that these works frequently support the same “social concerns” and appropriate the same “literary strategies” from the very works they seemingly condemn. Thus, both “ostensibly” Jacobin and anti-Jacobin works make use of parodic textual citation, satirical representations of persons or types, and tropes of sentimental narrative. As a result, the conventional critical descriptors separating them are inadequate in outlining their complexities. Charles Lucas The Infernal Quixote embeds, for instance, “anti-Godwin diatribes” yet Lucas’s conception of “Christian forgiveness and reformation accords with Godwin’s notion of rational reformation through an understanding of error” and novels such as Opie’s Adeline Mowbray or Hamilton’s Modern Philosophers “ought to be read as part of an extended continuum from the more radical positions of Mary Hays to distinctly reformist but conciliatory positions.” Without an acknowledgement of


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this “continuum,” critical discussions of “Jacobinism” and “anti-Jacobinism” will continue to inflate their distinctions and ignore their intertextual connections. Michelle Faubert makes a persuasive case for studying both the relationship between early forms of psychiatry and the creation of Romantic poetry by affirming the importance of the effects that Romantic poetry had on medical science. Acknowledging the work of Frederick Burwick and Alan Richardson and their efforts to elucidate the effects of medical science on the production and significance of Romantic poetry, Faubert nonetheless wishes to illustrate how Romantic poetry may have affected the medical models of early psychiatrists. Beginning with Hunter and Macalpine’s “monumental” work Three Hundred years of Psychiatry and their observation that many psychiatric physicians of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries wrote verse, Faubert probes their literary writing for answers to questions related to the integration of poetic and scientific identities, as well as any subversion of their medical identity through their literary “constructions.” Agreeing with Anna Seward, who targets Erasmus Darwin for creating a “new class of poetry,” Faubert discusses the poetry of Thomas Bakewell, Thomas Beddoes, and Thomas Brown, early psychiatrists who contribute to this new “class of poetry.” Disputing Coleridge’s claim that science and poetry can never really “blend” because the former concerns truth while the latter prefers pleasure, these scientist-poets endeavor to show the value of creating a “truly scientific poetry.” Faubert proceeds to tease out important connections between Thomas Bakewell’s A Domestic Guide, in cases of Insanity (1805) and The Moorland Bard (1807), Thomas Brown’s Lectures on the Philosophy of the Human Mind (1820) and The Paradise of Coquettes, a poem in nine parts (1814), and Thomas Beddoes’ Hygëia (1803) and Alexander’s Expedition (1792). Creating a “psychiatric focus” for the study of Romantic poetry, Faubert hopes, therefore, to “gain insights into how experts in the medical realm understood the purpose of verse in relation to early mental science, as well as the relationship between the authorial identity of the medical writer and that of the poet.” Contending that the relationship in the eighteenth century between fiction and history was “fraught with conflict,” Bronwyn Rivers first distinguishes a philological or antiquarian history (David Hume’s The History of England and Edward Gibbons’ Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire) with “humanist” history, which provided “moral or practical” instruction. This interrogation of the nature of history and the “truth-status of events” plays out in the work of early novelists like Defoe, Richardson, and Fielding, who introduce “the problematic relationship between fact and fiction.” The appearance of the Gothic novel in the 1790s marks, therefore, not a departure or escape from history, but a firm grounding in historiography and epistemology. Indeed, Gothic novels, Rivers argues, remains a genre fundamentally concerned with the past—the medieval past (a favorite setting of Gothic writers), the specific and more immediate national past of England, and the tortuous and conflicted present of volatile politics and revolution, evidenced by the American and French Revolutions. While Gothic novels remain overdetermined within revolutionary contexts and thus with British anxiety about constitutional debate and the direction of national history, these literary works also “engage…with more abstract issues of historiography and the nature of knowledge itself.” With the imposition of supernatural events, the Gothic tests the “historically plausible” and raises doubt about what is known and

Introduction: Heterotopia and Romantic Border Crossings


what is knowable, even as it ostensibly supports the notion that “everything has a rational explanation.” Not only is the process of acquiring information “fraught with uncertainty,” Rivers suggests, but also the scope of realist fiction, which Gothic fiction challenges, is so narrow as to obviate the need for or pursuit of imaginative power. Burke’s endorsement of the sublime (and Radcliffe’s appropriation of it) promotes the subjective, which pure reason and rationality occlude. Crossing into the Gothic thus renders “history” problematic, for the Gothic deliberately sustains the tension between natural and supernatural, objectivity and subjectivity, holding in abeyance the reader’s faith in his/her rationality or ability to judge events, process information, and establish facts. Rivers then employs Radcliffe’s novel The Italian to illustrate forcefully Gothic strategies of occlusion and misinformation, which question “the nature of narrative, knowledge, and history.” The Romantic Circles Pedagogies section and its new journal Romantic Pedagogy Commons, a journal devoted to the teaching of Romantic literature with new technologies ( forcefully hints at the emerging interest in the theoretical and practical interconnections between Romanticism and teaching. The links to electronic texts and web-based tools (including course syllabi, virtual learning environments, and listservs) reinforce the rising preoccupation with the praxis of scholarship within the field of Romanticism—with the need to recontextualize and repackage formidable and often uninviting scholarship within friendlier, more interactive and visually dynamic environments for the students who take our courses. Some books have been published in the area of teaching Romantic literature (for example, MLA’s multi-volume series on the teaching of specific Romantic writers), and yet recent collections of Romantic scholarship have not always devoted space to the teaching of Romantic literature. For this volume, three senior scholars redress the dearth of discussion on teaching Romantic literature, both from national and comparative perspectives, by reaffirming pedagogy as an oft-neglected category of Romantic scholarship and inquiry, a border crossing to which we have traditionally paid lip service but seldom interrogated. In an era of fiscal and institutional accountability, we can ill afford to merely show obeisance. We must demonstrate action. On the other hand, these essays are not merely recapitulations of personal teaching strategies (though, of course, there is enormous value in essays of this type); instead, they are openings into the processes of doing Romantic scholarship, of shaping the field of Romantic inquiry. In short, these essays intentionally pose far more questions than they answer. As such, their target audience is students who are taking their first steps into the analysis of Romanticism, every bit as much as it is faculty members who engage in the teaching of Romantic texts, for both participate in the production of knowledge about Romanticism. As Stephen C. Behrendt suggests in his essay, collections such as this one must help redefine the contours of the community of Romantic scholarship so that students are not merely receptacles of our wisdom, but partners in its formation. In the hotly contested but fertile areas of Orientalism and British drama, Marjean Purinton makes relevant current debates about representations of Arabia and “the role these representations have played in the ongoing Western constructions of Arabia and Arab identity, current anti-Arab sentiments, and racial stereotyping.” Following the lead of Edward Said, Purinton argues that the staging of British dramas in this


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period renders frequently enacts an “Arabia” that simultaneously signifies “a fantastic mystery and a threatening ‘otherland’” because the Oriental Other embodies both real experience of the colony and the imagined nature of its inhabitants. Despite an actual knowledge of Arabia and its geography, British playwrights draw upon a repertory (to use Said’s word) of exotic and terrifying imagery to create landscapes that reify cultural conceptions of “Orientalism in general and Arabia in particular” and what these conceptions indicate for British imperialism. The large numbers of plays that exploit Arabian “geography” include Richard Cumberland’s The Arab (1785) and Alcanor (1813), Elizabeth Inchbald’s The Egyptian Boy (1790), William Wordsworth’s The Borderers (1796–1797), Thomas John Dibdin’s The Mouth of the Nile; or, the Glorious First of August (1798); Felicia Hemans’s The Siege of Valencia (1823), and Thomas Lovell Beddoes’ Death’s Jest Book or The Fool’s Tragedy (1825–1829). The British stage becomes an archaeological “site” where students perceive how the British obsession with Arab culture—from reading The Arabian Nights to decoding Egyptian hieroglyphics with the Rosetta Stone—“is contingent upon the relationship between spectators and theatrical presentations of Arab characters, settings, and cultural practices.” “The performative and representational Arabia of Romantic drama,” Purinton writes, “constitutes therefore an effective vehicle for teaching Orientalism.” Laying out these representational patterns in the work of Cumberland, Hemans, Hannah More, Elizabeth Inchbald, Thomas Lovell Beddoes, and Joanna Baillie, Purinton also suggests ways in which British drama inflicts its “colonial self-portrait” upon the audience, demonstrating how the students themselves, as spectators of the drama, are interpellated into its cultural logics, making them the very Orientalists that they should obviously criticize. For Purinton, the final piece of this Orientalist puzzle and its connections to the teaching of the British Orientalist stage lie with a text students know little about but are more than familiar with, James Robinson Planché’s Beauty and the Beast. In Planché’s pre-Disney version, the “beauty” of Christianity and the “beast” of Islam pitch a subterranean battle, in which the “Easter” question stands in for the “Eastern” question. The British Romantic stage is thus one of the important sites for an imperial ideology “that has significantly shaped current western notions of Arabia and what it means to be an Arab.” Stephen C. Behrendt argues for the necessity of breaking through disciplinary borders in Romantic scholarship and the teaching of Romanticism, boundary conditions that have not been principally constricted by professional paradigms. Behrendt cites the parameters related to time (the twenty-minute conference paper or a semester- or quarter-based curriculum), concept (historically-packaged and chronologically-arranged curriculum), and genre (anthologies that stress the inclusion of poetry because of time constraints). What strikes Behrendt as particularly troubling is the “incomplete picture” his colleagues, even “sophisticated scholars” of Romanticism, admit to having “of the Romantic literary community considered as a whole.” Because of these limitations, courses in Romantic studies become the reflection of genres to which individual scholars are accustomed. Behrendt urgently recommends reform by moving past the “borders” which “have historically both demarcated and provincialized the territory of Romantic studies” and instead “to work collectively to generate a more expansive, dialogical model of the Romantic literary

Introduction: Heterotopia and Romantic Border Crossings


community and culture. A communal ethos will result in “greater sophistication and cultural sensitivity in how we represent and interrogate British (indeed all) Romantic writing in our scholarship and in our classrooms, where we ourselves are engaged in shaping the scholars and teachers who will follow us.” Behrendt notes the explosion of recovered (and newly “accessible”) Romantic literary texts, particularly in the area of women writers, which has “challenged the historically male-centered canon” and has provided alternative models for constructing a version of the Romantic period. Recovery projects in poetry, drama, and fiction comprise a “literary archeology” that ought to redefine the scope and shape of Romantic literary history. Behrendt recognizes, of course, that “calendar-driven models” of curriculum delivers are not about to disappear, and he modestly proposes that within our professional constraints, we adopt “new, more effective and historically accurate ways of representing” the Romantic literary community, including many kinds of period texts (e.g. drama, non-fiction prose, print journalism, extra-literary materials in the visual arts, music, and “street” theater). Furthermore, following Paul Keen, Behrendt advocates increasing professional dialogue that mulls strategies “for developing coherent, manageable curricular and pedagogical models from this increasingly daunting wealth of materials.” Behrendt wishes to draw students into that dialogue and partner with them. Together, he suggests, the Romantic literary community enacts what Keen viewed as a “complex field of writing and reading shaped by a range of commercial, political, and social factors.” Behrendt ominously concludes by warning us that only by dialogically and collectively ferreting out these problems and finding adaptive solutions to them, will we be able to “reconfigure” productive versions of Romanticism that connect to the rest of the world, an especially crucial outcome at a moment in the history of the academy “when so much of the profession is engaged in rigorous self-assessment.” I summarize Kari Lokke’s and Lilach Lachman’s essays together because together they represent the most important student-learning outcome that is embedded in our programs—academic writing (indeed all writing) is a collective process. Writers are not maverick loners; they must constantly engage with one another, tackling thorny issues dialectically and rendering judgments conditionally. Theirs are also essays that confront the problem of transatlantic literary influence, with the figure of Günderode becoming pivotal for underscoring intertextual connections to Emily Dickinson and her poetry. In Lokke’s piece, the suicide scene of Karoline von Günderode (her Liebestod) becomes impetus for Bettine von Arnim’s pastiche Günderode, which compiles Karoline’s “poems, plays, philosophical dialogues and essays” and “weaves them together into a lyrical epistolary novel.” Lokke emphasizes that her essay “traces the cultural echoes of Karoline’s performance of Liebestod, both in her life and in her art, and suggests that they made their way into Emily Dickinson’s poetry through the vehicle of Arnim’s book written in her honor.” Already known by the transcendentalists for her fictionalized account of her friendship with Wolfgang von Goethe (in Goethe’s Correspondence with a Child), Bettine von Arnim becomes so popular that Louisa May Alcott imagines herself “an American Bettina with Emerson as her Goethe.” Even Margaret Fuller translates portions of her novel and writes an article for the Dial on Bettina’s friendship with Karoline. Emily Dickinson’s editor, Thomas Higginson, introduced Bettine von Arnim’s Günderode to her, and


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the effect, according to Barton St. Armand, was staggering, permitting Dickinson to create a “private mythology of the self,” as well as to construct her “poses” in her correspondence with Higginson, Susan Dickinson, and perhaps others. Lokke makes clear, however, that this is merely an opening salvo in the dialogue she wishes to effect, precisely the lesson students need to internalize about the nature of writing and scholarship—it’s dialogic, perpetually in motion, never-ending, always reigniting. Lokke writes: “I present [Arnim’s novel] here in the hopes that Dickinson scholars will wish to explore it further in order to understand what she might have learned form the excesses, both emotional and rhetorical, of Arnim’s Die Günderode and the tragic figure that was its focus.” Lachman’s essay is not only a response to Lokke’s essay; it delves into its own mode of production as well, clearly demonstrating the process of scholarly accretion, how ideas develop because of the conversations writers have with one another in print. Lachman hears Lokke’s presentation at NASSR (the conference for the North American Society for the Study of Romanticism) on Bettine von Arnim’s “hovering religion” and following the talk, Lachman asks whether or not Dickinson’s “vision of the poetry of nature as an ‘unobtrusive Mass’ (F895) may have taken its clue from von Arnim’s ‘schwebe-religion.’” This initial dialogue sets in motion Lachman’s thinking about how women writers create “new frameworks” in which they “test, challenge, and transform” the conceptions of love and death held by their cultures. In the case of Dickinson’s preoccupation with death, Lachman stresses E.D.’s appropriation of the model provided by von Arnim’s Liebestod and argues for Dickinson’s “provocative deployment of a deathbed model inherited from her own Calvinistic and Victorian culture.” While Lachman argues for some “rough distinctions” between Arnim’s and Dickinson’s “constructs of death,” she remains intensely interested in how Dickinson transforms Arnim’s “Romantic eroticization of death into a subjective interiority,” how she embeds Arnim’s “shaping of death and then extends and modifies it, thus according it new values.” While Lachman has begun the process of finalizing her own interpretation of Arnim’s influence on Dickinson and outlining how that influence plays out in Dickinson’s representations of Liebestod, her honest description of her thought processes and the background for her scholarly sketch also provides a metacommentary for students struggling with their own ideas, with their own expression in writing. In this way, and despite the abstruseness of the texts discussed, Lokke’s and Lachman’s interventions in Transatlantic Studies amply demonstrate not only an emerging area in what Behrendt calls the “Romantic literary community,” they also illustrate the necessity of scholarly dialogue, the basis for any successful classroom pedagogy or inculcation of the processes of academic writing. At present, Transatlantic Studies is one of the hottest fields within the Romantic literary community, as two recent studies suggest. Helen Thomas’ Romanticism and Slave Narratives connects traditional British Romantic texts to writings within the African diaspora, such as the poetry of Phyllis Wheatley and the autobiographical narrative of Olaudah Equiano. And in a recent issue of Romanticism on the Net (, Laura Mandell edits a special issue devoted to women writers and transatlanticism. Citing the work of Isobel Armstrong, Tricia Lootens, and Meredith McGill, Mandell attempts to place

Introduction: Heterotopia and Romantic Border Crossings


the “poetess” tradition within a transnational branching out, women conversing with each other across national boundaries, across oceanic frontiers. Transatlanticism conforms, as Mandell suggests, to what Deleuze and Guattari have called “the first sort of deterritorialization” (Paragraph 51). This deterritorialization permits a true conversational exchange, and, as we shall see, not only among women writers. It is a conversation not usually explained within the confines of canonical Romantic literature, but it is one that wrestles with the moorings of the canon. As previously indicated, Kari Lokke’s and Lilah Lachman’s essays on Bettine von Arnim and Emily Dickinson fall under this emerging transatlantic rubric. As well, the last two essays in the collection reach across the ocean to connect America to the rest of the world—Jeanne Cortiel reaching across to Egypt and the Orientalized hieroglyph to explain race and ethnicity in Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and Sohui Lee uncovering the British roots of America’s ideology of Manifest Destiny. Jeanne Cortiel places her discussion of race and ethnicity in Whitman’s 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass within current critical models that analyzed the role and function of “Egypt” in mid-nineteenth-century American culture. Cortiel argues that Egypt assists in both the creation of a “coherent American national identity” and a fierce opposition to the coherence of such cultural politics. Borrowing from the work of Scott Trafton, Stephen Tapscott, Martin Klammer, and Ed Folsom, Cortiel focuses “on the oblique figure of Egypt” in Whitman’s work, rather than on his direct representations of blackness or whiteness in order to promote a reading that “unravels the complex ways in which his texts absorb, shape, and rework racial alterity and selfhood.” Cortiel acknowledges that for many critics, “race” is the fault line in Whitman’s work, with one side asserting that Whitman the journalist embodies the mainstream racism of the period while the other believes that “universal human equality” can be retrieved from a closer look at Whitman the poet. In addition to the racial politics Whitman’s critics interrogate, Cortiel also borrows from Paul Outka’s “queering of these politics” in his cleverly titled “Whitman and Race (‘He’s Here, He’s Unclear, Get Used to It’).” Outka oddly believes that Whitman’s journalistic racism and poetic progressivism do not contradict one another. Rather, they form a “circuit” that (in Outka’s phrasing) “binds” and “releases” Whitman’s “eroticized political energies.” Outka’s insights provide Cortiel with an interpretive paradigm for understanding Whitman’s shifting ground with regard to both race and sexuality because in the 1855 Leaves of Grass Egypt reifies the ongoing “tension” between “cultural cohesion” and “cultural multiplicity.” In fact, the “grass” in Whitman’s title is the ultimate hieroglyph, indecipherable and indeterminate, uniform yet dissolute. Disciplining Whitman’s representations of American identity—unpacking their ethnology, making them conform to manifest principles or predetermined ideologies by unraveling (with apologies to Wordsworth) the mystery of the splendor in the grass—“becomes,” in Cortiel’s words, “both urgently necessary and utterly impossible.” Finally, Sohui Lee explores the significance of Louis O’Sullivan’s famous term “manifest destiny,” which he coins in the Democratic Review (1845). Lee examines manifest destiny, one of the main sources of American exceptionalism, within an interpretive transnational frame, rather than a nationalist one bounded mainly by the fervent expansionism of Jacksonian Democrats. Confirming Amy Kaplan’s point


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that American political rhetoric of the time “turns imperial conquest into spiritual regeneration in order to efface internal conflict or external resistance,” Lee suggests that Jacksonian discourse confirms Britain as a victimizing and imperialist “foil” in order to vindicate America’s own colonial expansion, which appears virtuous and pure to an inflamed public imagination. Lee cites Richard Rush’s Memoranda of a Residence at the Court of London, in which Rush, President Madison’s designated treaty negotiator in London, denies that the United States acts “in the same colonizing ‘spirit’ as Great Britain.” Rush gives the examples of the “Floridas,” which the United States pays for equitably, fairly, and without military intervention. In 1844, President Polk suggests much the same moral justification when he argues for the annexation of Texas, given the clear and present danger of Britain’s “encroachment” on American territory. In other words, Americans acquire their lands fairly and ethically; the British use brute force and threaten national sovereignty. Even with the dispute over the Oregon territory, “radical expansionists…vocalized what moderates…stopped short of saying but were, no doubt, silently hoping”—the elimination of British power on the continent. American patriotic poetry expresses similar sentiments. William Gilmore Simms, for example, writes about the immoral acts of violence that the British commit in their imperial conquests in his poem “Apostrophe to Ocean” (also published in the Democratic Review). And in his poem “The Canadian Avatar,” Simms vilifies the British for their violence against Canadians. Though impelled by competition with the British for territory, the supreme irony of the rhetoric of manifest destiny, one that has an eerie contemporary resonance, stems from the American desire to extend “a dominion of peace” over indigenous populations that presumably wish to be governed by a “nonviolent and diplomatic” United States. Sohui Lee argues that by perceiving the transatlantic rivalry between the United States and Great Britain, one can pierce the rhetorical, moral, and ideological complications inherent in manifest destiny. Americans ardently wish to believe that their acquisition of territory does not occur, as Britain’s does, from a sinister and violent imperialism, but instead arises from the superior “heart” of American democracy. In Romanticism, Aesthetics, and Nationalism, David Aram Kaiser opens his book by stating, “In contemporary literary theory, the indeterminate quality of literary language is often connected to progressive political principles, while determinate language is connected to totalizing political ideology” (1). He further stipulates that in some models of literary history, “literary indeterminacy both originates in Romanticism and is its archetypal achievement” (1). If true, the success of Romantic “indeterminacy” demands a critical engagement with ‘otherness,’ a persistent entry and re-entry into the gateways of elsewhere. The suggestive interventions offered in this collection occlude a “totalizing” and demonizing demagoguery that often hamstrings our profession by preventing dialogue and promoting ideology. This collection manifests an intellectual productivity precisely because of the eclectic border crossings interrogated throughout—crossings into history, literature, language, genre, and pedagogy and across histories, literatures, languages, genres, and pedagogies. It is a volume that iterates a kind of comparative textual analysis that had been declared dead. It is a book that affirms the flexibility and endurance of the Romantic literary community. But, at the last, it also hails the Romantics themselves, canonical and non-canonical, famous and obscure, aristocratic and working class,

Introduction: Heterotopia and Romantic Border Crossings


settled and emergent, who had a deeply passionate appreciation of the world and who intuited the value of what Isaiah Berlin has called “the imperfections of life” (147). With “life” being the operative word, these “imperfections” are actually affirmations; they most assuredly are not tropes of death.

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PART I British Border Crossings

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Chapter 1

Gateway to Heterotopia: Elsewhere on Stage Frederick Burwick University of California, Los Angeles

The most popular and familiar border crossings in the Romantic period were marked by the proscenium arch. Theater was at once an international venue and a showcase for national prejudice toward other countries and other customs. While much is revealed in the dramatic setting and the stage representation of foreign character and intrigue in plays by British writers, even more telling were their translations and adaptations from the drama of other countries. Robert Young, in White Mythologies (1990) argued that “the creation of the Orient … signifies the West’s own dislocation from itself, something inside that is presented, narrativized, as being outside.” (139). While “arm-chair travelers” encountered vicariously the foreign and strange in their reading of travel narratives, the drama of the period enhanced such encounters through the vivid impact of theatrical setting and action. The inside/outside disjunctures of heterotopia nourished, and were nourished by, the growing consciousness of Empire in the Romantic period. Defined as a room with the fourth wall missing, the stage may invite a voyeuristic curiosity about the events exposed within that room. Indeed, Joanna Baillie, in her “Introductory Discourse” to the Plays of the Passions (1798) makes that curiosity the motivating impulse in her theory of drama. One popular anecdote repeated by Denis Diderot in Les Bijoux indiscets (1748), as well as several other critics of the 18th century, supposes a stranger from a remote culture brought for the first time within a theater, and informed that when the curtain is raised, according to local custom, the king’s chambers will be exposed and will reveal the actual events in court. Would the stranger believe such a fiction? Not likely, answers Diderot, for even the most naive stranger would not fail to see the mannerisms and artifice that distinguish performance from reality. Whatever is on stage is “other.” Even the sort of docu-drama that gained popularity in the Romantic period is marked by the inherent difference of the performative act. Wordsworth, as he related in The Prelude (1805 VII: 316–59), attended a performance of The Maid of Buttermere at Sadler’s Wells in April 1803. The play brought to the stage a scandalous seduction that had occurred in Wordsworth’s native Lakes six months earlier. Coleridge had reported the event in five articles for the Morning Post (Oct 11, 22; Nov. 5, 20; Dec. 31). John Hatfield, a notorious swindler, had seduced a nobleman’s natural daughter, who bore him three daughters, and married his jailor’s daughter, who helped obtain his release. Then, in the Fall of 1802, calling himself


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“The Hon. Augustus Hope, M.P.,” supposedly a brother to the Earl of Hopetown, he arrived in Buttermere, met Mary Robinson, the innkeeper’s daughter, and persuaded her to marry him. His identity, his swindling schemes, and his bigamy were exposed. With his production of Edward and Susan: or, The Beauty of Buttermere, Charles Dibdin, Junior, sought to make the most of the scandal before the case even went to court. With no denigration of Dibdin’s theatrical exploitation, Wordsworth simply declares that it shows … how the spoiler came “a bold bad man,” To God unfaithful, children, wife, and home, And wooed the artless maiden of the hills. And wedded her, in cruel mockery Of love and marriage bonds. (III:321–6)

Yet Wordsworth also implies that the very theatrical transformation makes an artifice of sentiment, and thus teaches us “to slight the crimes/ And sorrows of the world.” He recollects the fate of Mary Robinson, the real Maid of Buttermere, whose infant, conceived in false wedlock, had died at birth and was buried in the village churchyard. From the actress who performed her role on stage, he looked into the audience and sees a young mother, carrying her small child with her through the theater, as she plied her trade as prostitute (III:363–411). Were the emotions aroused by the theatrical representation not utterly shallow and ephemeral, there would be none in the audience who would not perceive the young mother as victim of like betrayal. Another sensational documentary was The Gamblers, which opened at the Royal Coburg Theater on November 17, 1823,1 and was brought onto stage as an exposé of an actual murder that had occurred on October 24, and only fourteen days after the murderer, John Thurtell, had been apprehended. Thurtell, who lost a large sum in gambling with William Weare, invited him to a country house and robbed and murdered him en route. The dramatization followed blow-by-blow the events in the crime. To insure the utmost realism, the coach and horse that the murderer had used to transport his victim were brought on stage in the appropriate scene. The set designers duplicated with utmost verisimilitude the gambling house, the inn where they stopped, the bye-way where the murders were committed, and the country house to which the corpse were delivered. In the final scene, Weare, not yet dead, revived long enough to accuse his murderer. This scene, the reviewer reports, was a deviation necessary to bring the play to a close, for in the actual case the accused was still on trial.2 The question that must be asked of The Beauty of Buttermere and The Gamblers, indeed of any documentary then or now, is not simply the extent to which the 1 See Allardyce Nicoll, Early Nineteenth Century Drama, vol. 4, A History of English Drama, 1660–1900. In this list of plays by unknown authors, Nicoll notes that a play with the same title, The Gamblers, opened on the same date, Nov. 17, 1823, at the Surrey Theatre. If not the same play, this was most probably another dramatization of Thurtell’s crime. 2 See Times, Morning Chronicle and The Observer; Mannheimer Zeitung, no. 336 (4 Dec 1823); no. 342 (10 Dec. 1823).

Gateway to Heterotopia: Elsewhere on Stage


representation deviates from what is represented, but rather the extent to which that deviation is also a displacement of the social and ethical ground. What prevails in the theater is the very opposite of Kant’s postulation of an aesthetics of disinterest (288). Successful box office is predicated on taking full advantage of whatever stirs popular interest. Their aestheticization as dramatic performance does not eliminate the various attributes of interest—morbid or libidinous curiosity, desire or fear. Instead, interests are rendered “other,” no longer constrained by the moral censorship and taboos that govern personal actions. The dramatization of John Thurtell’s crimes plays to much the same interests that were addressed by Thomas De Quincey in his several essays on “Murder Considered as a Fine Art.”3 De Quincey repeatedly urged the principle of idem in alio—identity in alterity, sameness in difference—as crucial to artistic representation.4 In the enactment of idem in alio there resides a doubleness, a two-way interaction. What is familiar is rendered strange; what is strange is rendered familiar. As examples of the broad range of “otherness,” The Beauty of Buttermere and The Gamblers provide reminders of how “otherness,” as Freud says of the Unheimliche, begins at home. A young women deluded by a rakish swindler, doubtless not a rare occurrence in actual domestic life, had been featured in numerous sentimental melodramas of the period. Dibdin, of course, had taken a case that was currently in the newspaper headlines. The documentary facts were well known to everyone in his audience. Dibdin’s choice was to heighten the emotional impact of his subject by transforming Mary Robinson into an operatic heroine, pouring out the passion of her love and the agony of her betrayal in song. In the opening scene of The Gamblers, Thurtell is shown at the gaming table with Weare; then there is a scene fellow gambler William Probert who agrees to Thurtell’s plot to invite Weare to a country cottage, ostensibly for a weekend of gambling. In Act II, Thurtell’s horse and gig are brought onto the stage in front of a façade of the Wagon and Horses Inn. The murder scene was gruesome in its detail: a pistol is fired at the victim’s head, and there was a copious use of stage blood as the wounded Weare struggled to escape. The bullet had not killed him, so Thurtell now set about slitting Weare’s throat, then clubbing him with the muzzle of the gun. The final Act, at Probert’s cottage, depicted the murderer and his friend, attempting to dispose of the body by throwing it into a pond, when Weare rose up with a final cry of accusation before he died. Crafted in haste to bring the dramatization before an audience while interest in the murder still captured the public imagination, W.T. Moncrieff, the manager at the Coburg, sought the utmost realism in depicting the crime in all its gory details. The audience wept at Weare’s agonies and applauded Thurtell’s capture at the end. In spite of the “realism,” it was a show, and the audience responded accordingly, fully aware that what they had witnessed was “other,” a transformation of the actual crime.

3 De Quincey’s essays “On Murder Considered as a Fine Art” and “Peter Anthony Fonk” were both published in Blackwood’s Magazine in 1827, while his “Second Paper on Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts” appeared in Blackwood’s Magazine in 1839. 4 For full discussion of this topic, see my essay, “Mimesis and the idem et alter.”


Romantic Border Crossings

As Michel Foucault has argued in Discipline and Punish, the attributes of performance and spectacle transform even the reality of public executions. When Thurtell was brought to London for his hanging on January 9, 1824, the event was played out as public act of expiation: As the prison bells tolled twelve noon, James Foxen, the hangman, led the prisoner from his cell to the gallows. Thurtell, for his part, was “elegantly attired in a brown great coat with a black velvet collar, light breeches and gaiters, and a fashionable waistcoat with gilt buttons.” The prison chaplain read the burial service. Thurtell mounted the five steps pf the gallows and positioned himself on the trap. As Foxen removed his cravat and loosened his collar, Thurtell prayed. Then Foxen placed the noose around his neck. Wilson, Governor of Hertford Gaol, shook hands with him and said, “Good bye Mr. Thurtell, may God Almighty bless you,” to which Thurtell replied “God bless you, Mr. Wilson, God bless you.” Wilson asked, “Do you consider that the laws of your country have been dealt to you fairly and justly?” Thurtell answered, “I admit that just has been done me – I am perfectly satisfied.” Foxen drew the bolts and Thurtell dropped through the trap with a crash. It was reported that his neck broke “with a sound like a pistol shot,” as if an echo of the crime.5 The hanging of Thurtell clearly substantiates Foucault’s argument that public executions were ritualized. Ritual distances the immediate and lends a symbolic “otherness.” But even then, the performative value was not yet exhausted: a lifelike effigy of Thurtell was exhibited in Madame Tussaud’s wax works. These first two examples of idem in alio were selected precisely because the idem seems to be so powerfully present: real events, local events, currently occurring events.6 Not even the distance of place or time puts the The Beauty of Buttermere or The Gamblers at a distance from audience; nevertheless, the distance is there. The stage asserts representation in alio. Moncrieff’s audience, no less than Dibdin’s audience, is gathered at the accustomed site of artifice. Moncrieff’s Thurtell, no 5 Taken from both Charles Hindley, “The Confession and Execution of John Thurtell at Harford Gaol,” Curiosities of Street Literature, 187 and Richard D. Altick, Victorian Studies in Scarlet. 6 Even in responding to and replicating the sensationalism of newspaper and periodical journalism, the docu-drama of the Romantic stage could achieve a more powerful illusion of realism, but at the same time it constrained that realism within the accustomed artifices of theatrical performance. The actuality of headline news was converted into the alterity of dramatic art. Thus the news of The Battle of Leipzig (also known as “the Battle of the Nations”), 16–18 October 1813, was immediately adapted as Buonepart Burnt Out; or, The Allies Victorious in the extravaganza which opened at the Surrey on 18 October 1813. Or again, when Arthur Thistlewood, William Davidson, James Ings, Richard Tidd, and John Brunt were executed for high treason on 28 April 1820, the Royal Coburg used the occasion to draw in crowds to see a re-enactment of The Cato Street Conspiracy, showing the conspirators plotting in a hayloft, their arrest by the squad led by George Ruthven, Thistlewood firing his pistol point blank at Richard Smithers, the trial for treason and murder, and the comic-heroic scene on the gallows in which Ings was loudly singing Death or Liberty until Thistlewood told him, “Be quiet, Ings; we can die without all this noise.” The comic moment then turned grotesque when neither Ings nor Brunt would die when the platform dropped and they were left dangling in twitching convulsions at the end of the rope and several of the executioner’s assistants had to pull on their legs until their agonies at last ended. See George Theodore Wilkinson, An Authentic History of the Cato Street Conspiracy.

Gateway to Heterotopia: Elsewhere on Stage


less than Madame Tussaud’s, is a representation wrought for display. And to grant Foucault his argument, even the Thurtell, who is brought to public execution, is no longer Thurtell the gambler, Thurtell the murderer, but a performer in a scripted act. The examples that follow will examine the doubleness, the two-way interaction, of identity in alterity from the opposite perspective. These examples give primary emphasis not to the idem but to the aliter. The settings for these plays—France, Spain, and the Orient—exhibit the deceptive dimensions of “elsewhere.” In Elizabeth Inchbald’s Animal Magnetism (1788), the place is ostensibly across the channel in present-day Paris. As the actual city in which Franz Anton Mesmer had established his practice during the previous decade, Paris is a likely and logical setting. But Inchbald’s Parisian setting aptly suits, as well, her satire on the domestic constraints for a woman to choose her own husband or to control her own wealth and property. Her satire, of course, also responds to the contemporary controversy over the reputed charlatanry and sexual exploitation of female patients. By 1788, animal magnetism had already crossed the Channel and gained a following in England. Inchbald’s script reveals her awareness of Pierre Yves Barré’s Les docteurs modernes, staged in Paris in 1784 and published in 1785. Setting her play in France, she nevertheless implicates similar trespasses that were already stirring a scandal in London. The plot involves a hoax perpetrated on an elderly doctor, who resorts to animal magnetism, in order to cast a spell on his young ward, Constance, who has rejected all his overtures to her. He is tricked into thinking that he has mastered the power of magnetism, but his spells all go awry. In the resulting confusion, Constance is able to meet with her lover, a handsome young nobleman, and the two manage to extort the doctor’s permission to marry. Since “Paris” is revealed only from the interior of the doctor’s house, it is little more than a reflection in a fun-house mirror. But “elsewhere” nevertheless has an important function. Where in the world might lecherous old doctors keep their beautiful young ward confined in the hopes of compelling their consent in marriage? In London? Heaven forbid! In Paris? Far too enlightened and sophisticated to tolerate such oppression. Where then? Spain! Lisette, maid and companion to Constance, laments their plight: Lisette: [….]is it not a shame the Doctor should dare here in Paris to forbid both you and your servant to stir from home; lock us up, and treat us as women are treated in Spain? Constance: Never mind, Lisette, don’t put yourself in a passion, for we can learn to plot and deceive, and treat him as men are treated in Spain. (I.i)

Whether true or not, it was certainly an established trope that Spain was the place of domestic oppression of women, but also the place where women had mastered the arts of intrigue. Animal Magnetism was performed frequently throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, and when it was revived at Tavistock House in January 1857, Charles Dickens was apparently persuaded by the logic of the trope to move the setting from France to Spain. Paris, after all, had long since lost its relevance as the site of Mesmer’s exploits. Dickens himself played the Doctor who is tricked into


Romantic Border Crossings

thinking that he can “magnetize,” with his sister-in-law Georgina Hogarth as his ward, and his mistress Ellen Ternan as her maid.7 That same trope of oppression and intrigue informs the setting in Madrid for Hannah Cowley’s A Bold Stroke for Husband (1783). The themes are those already observed in Inchbald’s play and often repeated by other women authors of the age: the woman’s right to choose her own husband and to control her own wealth and property. Olivia and Victoria demonstrate a more ingenious assertion of those rights in the face of greater opposition. Olivia’s father, Don Caesar, endeavors to arrange her marriage, but she is determined to have the man of her choice, Don Julio. When told that she might be sent to a convent, Olivia voices her rebellious passion: “Immur’d in convent! then I’ll raise sedition in the sisterhood, depose the abbess, and turn the confessor’s chair to a go-cart” (II.ii). Victoria has brought wealth and property into her marriage, but her husband, Don Carlos, forced her to sign over control, then abandoned her in pursuit of a gold-digging courtesan, Laura, who uses quantities of wine and her seductive wiles to wheedle from him the deed to the estate. Victoria disguises herself as a man, seduces the seducer, and gains back from Laura the deed to her own estate. Once again in possession of her wealth and property, she is reconciled with her wayward husband whom she henceforth keeps under her control. One reviewer noticed that Cowley borrowed aspects of the character of Don Carlos, and some of his language, from the character of Courtine in Thomas Otway’s The Atheist of 1683 (Genest VI, 271). But the quibble about her originality does not detract from her own “bold stroke” in empowering the women of her play, who certainly command the trope of learning how “men are treated in Spain.” Spain, of course, was more than simply the code of male dominance and female subterfuge in an era in which women were struggling for rights. Spain, as the historical site of the Inquisition, also provided a trope for ruthless exercise of authority. When Wordsworth and Coleridge first met in 1797, it was not the Lyrical Ballads that was at the center of their collaborative interests. It was Friedrich Schiller’s Die Räuber (1781), from which Wordsworth drew inspiration in composing The Borderers, and Coleridge in writing Osario, performed and published in 1813 as Remorse.8 Staying closer than Wordsworth to his source in Die Räuber, Coleridge keeps the setting in Spain; more importantly, he keeps the rivalry between the two brothers. The significance of Coleridge’s theatrical “elsewhere” is manifold. Spain is the site of ethnic persecution. Coleridge’s equivalent to Karl and Franz Moor are Don Alvar and Don Ordonio. The play is set, as Coleridge opening note explains, on the coast of Granada during the reign of Philip II, just at the close of the civil wars against the Moors, and during the heat of the persecution which raged against them, shortly after the edict which forbad the wearing of Moresco apparel under the pain of death. 7 The artist Augustus Egg played the rival lover, and the novelist Wilkie Collins played his rival’s servant. 8 See Friedrich Schiller, The Robbers. See also: Lore Metzger, The Role of Feeling in the Formation of Romantic Ideology: The Poetics of Schiller and Wordsworth and Gerhard Stilz, “Robbers, Borderers, Millers and Men: Englische Räuberstücke zwischen Revolutionstragödie und melodramatischer Restauration.”

Gateway to Heterotopia: Elsewhere on Stage


Having escaped his brother’s attempt to assassinate him, Alvar returns to Spain with his Moorish companion, Zulimez. In spite of the edict, Alvar disguises himself as a Moor, and returns to father’s estate to discover whether his beloved Theresa has been faithful to him or yielded to his brother’s overtures. She has rejected all Ordonio’s advances, in spite of the fact that he insists that Alvar has perished. When Alvar presents himself as a Moorish wizard, unrecognized in his disguise, Ordonio decides that this charlatan might be employed to conduct a conjuration that that will convince Theresa that Alvar is dead. The magic scene, which is a stunning coup de theatre, makes the most of the inside/outside dislocations of “elsewhere.” Coleridge appreciated the incredible power of the stage to represent those scenes in which recesses are created within the “elsewhere” of the setting and a character— Friar Bacon, or Doctor Faustus, or Prospero—reaches into deeper, darker dimensions to snatch an image of the supernatural. Alvar is brought not to the chapel of the castle, but into the armory where a magical altar is erected for his unholy necromancy. Accompanied by eerie music (musicians with glass-harps were hidden off-stage) the conjuration begins. Alvar—who is and is not Alvar, who is and is not a Moorish wizard—begins his incantation “I call up the Departed! Soul of Alvar! Hear our soft suit, and heed my milder spell” (III, i). As a play-within-a-play, the conjuration scene functions, much like “The Murder of Gonzago,” to expose guilt. The inside/outside dimensions of the altar/shrine create a Necker Cube illusion of religion as magic, magic as religion. In his lectures on Shakespeare, delivered at the Surrey Institution Nov–Jan 1812/1813) during the months preceding the opening of Remorse at Drury Lane (Jan 23, 1813), Coleridge had spoken against the prevailing fashion of spectacle as a detriment to the drama. Here he plays directly to the audience’s love of spectacle. At the altar, by a bright flash of gunpowder, an image of Alvar is revealed. But this not the image that Ordonio expected, an image that would convince Theresa that Alvar is dead. No—it is an image that shows the attempted assassination, Alvar being attacked by Ordonio’s henchman. Not Alvar’s death, but Ordonio’s crime is exposed at the altar. As is well known, August von Kotzebue’s plays enjoyed considerable popularity on the London stage. The most lucrative box-office success9 was Die Spanier in Peru (1795), adapted by Richard Brinsley Sheridan as Pizarro (1799), and opening at Drury Lane (May 24 1799), with John Phillip Kemble as Rolla, the Peruvian hero, Charles Kemble as Alonzo, Rolla’s friend but also his rival in love; Dorothy Jordan as Alonzo’s Peruvian wife, Cora; William Barrymore as Pizarro, the ruthless Spanish conquistador, and Sara Siddons, as Elvira, his mistress. The fact that Sheridan knew no German was no impediment to his effort as translator. He was, in fact, merely the adaptor, and the identity of the true translator has remained a mystery.10 But in his 9 Sheridan’s Pizarro is estimated “to have brought 15,000 to the treasury of Drury Lane.” The Plays of Richard Brinsley Sheridan (London: Macmillan, 1900), p. vi. 10 Introduction, Pizarro, in John Philip Kemble Promptbooks, 11 vols, ed. Charles H. Shattuck. In his note on possible translators, Shattuck cites both James Boaden and Crompton Rhodes attributing the work to Constantin Geisweiler. That the translation might have been made by Anne Plumptre is rendered unlikely by Rhodes’s “account of Sheridan’s dealings with Mrs. Plumptre.”


Romantic Border Crossings

adaptation, he was a shrewd manipulator of “elsewhere.” His Spanish conquistadores may bear a Spanish standard, but they could well be French soldiers in Napoleon’s army; his Peruvian natives are (and, yes, they really are!) English, and among the English had spread a prevailing alarm that Napoleon was planning a full-scale invasion of England. Pizarro is a surrogate for the insidious Napoleon; Rolla and the Peruvians are the “noble savages” of Britain. This play fully exploits the doubleness of outside as inside, of there as here, of then as now. But it wasn’t Sheridan who discovered the doubleness inherent in the historical tale of Pizarro’s conquest. Nor was it Kotzebue. The tale had previously been told by the author of the stunning eye-witness account, in the year following the storming of the Bastille, of the Festival of Federation and the debates in the National Assembly, in Letters Written in France in the Summer of 1790, to a Friend in England. This account was followed by even more stunning volumes on the events in Paris during the “Blood Reign of Terror,” in the five volumes of Letters From France (1791–1796). The author, of course, was Helen Maria Williams. In her narrative poem, Peru: A Poem; in Six Cantos (1784), she told the tale of Pizarro’s invasion, of Rolla’s heroic resistance, of Cora’s pleading for his life at the feet of the cruel tyrant. Her sense of doubleness, of course, did not anticipate the French Revolution, or the fears of Napoleonic invasion, but it did indict military occupation and colonial exploitation. In that indictment she departs from her principle source, William Robertson’s History of America (1770). It was Cora’s scene in Peru that prompted the young Wordsworth, who had neither met nor even seen Helen Maria Williams, to write his sonnet, “On Seeing Helen Maria Williams Weep.” She was forthright in expressing her sympathies for the Revolution in her poem “The Bastille, A Vision” (1790), and in Peru, she told what was to become an allegory for the age (Adams 96). How a play might project the inside/outside doubleness of “elsewhere” is complicated, as just seen in the case of the Williams/Kotzebue/Sheridan representations of Peru. Translation, in and of itself, requires a cultural shift that inevitably complicates representation of people and place. That complication is even more extreme when the adaptation from a source also involves a shift in place. Consider what happens for example, when a setting is radically relocated. Edward Jerningham’s Siege of Berwick (1793) tells of a major battle in the Scottish War of Independence against Edward III, when Sir Alexander Seaton refused to surrender Berwick-upon-Tweed, even at the peril of losing his two sons, Archibald and Valentine. In the opening scene, the sons persuade their father to allow them to make a sally against the enemy. They are captured, and the English General informs Seaton that, unless he surrenders, his sons will be bound to pillars and exposed to arrows shot by Seaton’s own troops. When Seaton resolves not to surrender, his wife, Ethelberta, goes to the English camp to plea for their release. The General rejects her plea, but Seaton’s troop successfully attack the English camp, kill the General, and secure the release of the two sons unharmed.11 The plot ought to be familiar: this is the source for Felicia Hemans’s Siege of Valencia (1823), and she replicates the dilemma of the father, the anguish of the mother, the desperate predicament of 11 See Edward Jerningham The Siege of Berwick a Tragedy: as performed at the TheatreRoyal, Covent-Garden on 13 Nov 1793.

Gateway to Heterotopia: Elsewhere on Stage


the sons, and the uncompromising aggression of the enemy general. But what is the implication of moving the “elsewhere” of the stage from the northeastern coast of Britain to the Mediterranean coast of Spain? Situated in medieval Spain, amidst the Moorish/Christian conflicts that provided the setting to Coleridge’s Remorse, Hemans has constructed a tragedy that pits more emphatically maternal passions against masculine war-mongering. Her management of theatrical doubleness, too, is almost as shrewd as Sheridan’s Pizarro, for she allows her historical narrative, imbued with the valor of the legendary El Cid Compeador, to serve as a matrix through which an audience might glimpse the turmoil of post-Napoleonic conflict and the impact of the French invasion of Spain in 1823. But it was not Felicia Hemans who first to shift the “elsewhere” of the stage far from the Scottish/English borderlands on the North Sea. Preceding both Jerningham’s Siege of Berwick (1793) and Hemans’s Siege of Valencia (1823) was John Home’s Siege of Aquileia (1760), which takes the historical account of Sir Alexander Seaton’s defense of Berwick-upon-Tweed, and relocates that story in ancient Rome, with Aemilia, a Roman Consul, defending Aquileia from attack by the tyrant Maximin. When Aemelius’s sons, Paulus and Titus, are captured, Cornelia, his wife, pleads for their release. Home may have loosely founded his play on Roman history, but, as Genest observes, “he has borrowed his plot chiefly from what really happened at the Siege of Berwick.” While it is clear the Home used the historical sources on Edward III and the Scottish War of Independence, it is also clear that Jerningham has “borrowed considerable from Home.”12 Hemans’s version is closer to Jerningham. Why has Home indulged his radical and rather peculiar shift of “elsewhere”? Having just gained theatrical success with his Douglas (1757), it may be that Home wanted to show that he had a historical range that could take him far beyond Scottish nationalism. If that was his strategy, then he might have sought a plot that would better disguise the fact he was still relying on Scottish Border history. In recent criticism of the Romantic representations of “elsewhere,” led especially by Edward Said’s influential Orientalism, the exotic East has attracted much attention. Certainly the inside/outside doubleness of those representations is shaped by such factors as colonialism, the investments of the East India Company, the opium trade, and other military and mercantile ventures. Also, the East had entered into the popular imagination with great conjuring power as a site of exotic, erotic, and magical “otherness.” The Tales of Arabian Nights were introduced to Europe by Antoine Galland in 1704–17; the earliest English version, from Galland’s French, came almost immediately (1706–08). During the 18th century the tales of “Sinbad,” “Aladdin,” and “Ali Baba” were published in numerous popular editions. Wordsworth and De Quincey were among the many authors who record their childhood delight in these tales. The plots were also adapted in English pantomime, and occasionally appeared in the entertainments at Drury Lane and Covent Garden. The anonymous production of Aladdin, or the Wonderful Lamp (Covent Garden; April 19, 1813) reveals the basic features of the magical, oriental “elsewhere.” The 12 See again Genest, Some Account of the English Stage, 4:582–3 and 7:156–7. Genest delineates further similarities between Jerningham’s Siege of Berwick and Home’s Siege of Aquileia. See John David Lopez, “Recovered Voices: The Sources of The Siege of Valencia.”


Romantic Border Crossings

boy, Aladdin, is played by Marie Therese De Camp. Charles Farley, who had a reputation for playing comic villains, performed as Abanazar, the African Magician. And the inimitably comic Joe Grimaldi played Kazrac, the magician’s Chinese servant. The ingénue love interest was provided by Miss Bolton as the beautiful Princess, in comic contrast to Mary Ann Davenport in the role of the lusty widow of Ching Mustapha. “This Melodramatic Romance had considerable merit,” Genest grants rather begrudgingly, “for this sort of thing.” It ran for thirty-six performances and owed its success to its wonderful “Oriental” backdrops and costumes, and its “magical” effects with projected images and backlighting designed by Farley. The scenes of innocent love between De Camp and Bolton were effectively contrasted to the raunchy worldly-wise exchanges between the Magician and the Widow. A more curious Eastern setting was introduced by George Colman, the Younger, in his Drury Lane production in 1798 of Bluebeard. The Aarne-Thompson index of folk-tales13 identifies “Bluebeard” among types 312 and 312A, about women whose brothers rescue them from their ruthless husbands or abductors. Now this is a theme of domestic violence that might readily have an inside/outside doubleness no matter where the stage setting defined its location. And to be sure, there are examples of this theme from many cultures, including a tale from India of The Brahman Girl who Married a Tiger.14 Within the European tradition, however, “Bluebeard” was certainly best known in the version of Charles Perrault in France, the Swabian folktale in Germany15 and the play by Ludwig Tieck, Ritter Blaubart (1797). Where then might the action for the play be set? A castle in France or Germany? Colman set his production in “A Turkish Village—A Romantik Mountainous Country beyond it.” Was he being absolutely fickle and arbitrary? Let’s take a closer look at other editions of Tieck’s version. There is one entitled “The Seven Wives of Bluebeard: A true Family Story” (Die sieben Weiber des Blaubart : Eine wahre Familiengeschichte). The title page identifies it as by Peter Lebrecht or as edited by Gottlieb Färber.16 The title page also gives the place and date of publication as “Istanbul, 1212.” The work was, in fact, published in Berlin by Friedrich Nicolai in 1797. Here’s a doubleness that both anticipates and pre-empts the doubleness of the stage. “A true Family Story” promises some sort of immediate domestic relevance, but that relevance is then relocated, dislocated, to “Istanbul, 1212.” In his introduction to Blue-Beard, or, Female Curiosity! Colman declares that “The following Trifle is not a Translation from the French, nor from any other Language:—I have exclusive right to all its imperfections.” Michael Kelly, a theater composer, had seen in Paris the opera, Raoul Barbe Bleu (1789) by André Grétry. Kelly brought back a theater program and begged Colman to collaborate with him on an English version. Eight years later, Colman and Kelly had their musical 13 See Stith Thompson Motif-index of folk literature:a classification of narrative elements in folk tales, ballads, myths, fables, mediaeval romances, exempla, fabliaux, jest-books and local legends. 14 See Mrs. Howard Kingscote and Pandit Natêsá Sástrî, Tales of the Sun; or, Folklore of Southern India, no. 10. 15 See Ernst Meier, Deutsche Volksmärchen aus Schwaben, no. 38. 16 See Tieck, “Peter Lebrecht. Eine Geschichte ohne Abenteuerlichkeiten.”

Gateway to Heterotopia: Elsewhere on Stage


extravaganza. As manager at Covent Garden, Colman spent liberally to provide an elaborate stage extravaganza. Indeed, he declared that he had deliberately made “the Dialogue and Songs […] subservient to the […] Artists” who prepared the spectacular sets and stage machinery (Cox and Gamer, 77–8). “Over 2,000 was expended on the sets, including the huge animated panorama [of galloping horses] that showed the advance of Abomelique’s party and the ‘Blue Chamber,’ complete with moving skeleton and bleeding walls.” The play, the editors observe, “challenges us to think about the ramifications of this fairy tale of misogyny—where a tyrannical husband kills his wives when they inevitably essentialized ‘female curiosity’.” They go on to suggest that “Colman’s play could be seen either as re-enacting masculine stereotypes or as using conventional Orientalist imagery to decry the subjugation of women to oppressive men” (Cox and Gamer, Editors’ Introduction 75–6). The latter alternative seems unjustifiably generous to Colman. To be sure, as in the several versions of the folk tale, the present bride is rescued, even in the face of gory evidence that previous brides have been brutally tortured and killed. If Colman had lent his women a bit more intelligence and ingenuity to counterbalance their irrepressible female curiosity, then one might make a case against misogyny. As it is, the Turkish setting—opulent, elaborate, exotic—is at best a means of displaying masculine wealth and power while distracting attention from the cruelty it covers. To be sure, Selim rescues his Fatima from the cruel blue-beard Abomelique, and there is poetic justice in the death of Abomelique, slain by the skeleton in his torture chamber. But the order of masculine dominance and female subservience is not overcome, not even in the final embrace of Selim and Fatima. There is indeed a doubleness here, but it is not merely the doubleness of Pantomime splendor that Colman intended. The representation of the foreign might well serve as hermeneutic to gain understanding and familiarity with the other, or it might serve as self-aggrandizement, to assert superiority over the other. Pedagogic pretense was intermixed with chauvinistic opportunism. Such displays as William Bullock’s Egyptian Hall, which opened in 1812 and offered 15,000 artifacts in dimly lit rooms and labyrinthine halls, transformed the presentation of the archaeological object into a theatrical experience. At the same time, the theatrical exposition sought more and more to replicate the latest archeological findings. There are numerous plays of the period that provide further evidence of the ways in which the Oriental setting gives context to themes of colonial and domestic exploitation. Moncrieff’s The Cataract of the Ganges (1823) directly engages the public concerns with Britain’s military campaigns in India. The play’s English soldier, Robinson, who is friend to the Rajah, helps him overthrow the Grand Brahmin. The Grand Brahmin has raised a rebellion against the Rajah who has been friendly to the English troops, and he has kidnapped the Rajah’s daughter. Once his rule has been restored and his daughter rescued, the Rajah declares at the plays conclusion: Generous Britons—greatest of mortal conquerors, your battle is ever on virtue’s side— your aim is charity—your victory peace. You spread your sway o’er your opponent’s


Romantic Border Crossings hearts, and carry the Christian spirit of your race through every clime to civilize and bless!17

Those in the audience, who may well have wanted to believe this chauvinism, surely could manage to ignore any possible doubleness—to ignore, as well, the fact that these were Moncrieff’s words spoken by a stage Rajah. Byron in Sardanapalus (1821) uses orientalism to lay claim to luxurious opulence in a climate of treachery and intrigue. For the historical details of his play, Byron acknowledges his debt to Diodorus Siculus, the Greek historian. As “grandson of Semiramis, the man-queen” (subject of a play by Voltaire), Sardanapalus is haunted in his nightmare by her incestuous kiss. A self-indulgent voluptuary, he finds the cruelty of conquest repugnant. He rejects Zelima, his Queen, and prefers the company and comfort of Myrrha, his Ionian slave. Byron has situated his character in the dramatic tradition of the “effete king” with such forbearers as Marlowe’s Edward II and Shakespeare’s Richard II. Among those who have sought a contemporary model, some have recognized it as yet another autographical projection of the author himself and his estranged queen, Lady Annabelle Milbanke Byron; others have seen in the monarch/voluptuary a representation of George IV, who, at the close of his Regency, came into kingship with the scandal of his divorce from Queen Caroline. In his final moment, however, Byron’s Assyrian monarch ascends his own funeral pyre with a resignation that sets him apart from his historical lineage—Nimrod and Semiramis, from his literary lineage—Edward II, Richard II, and most radically, from any resemblance to George IV. As Myrrha holds the torch ready to ignite their bed of flames, Sardanapalus declares: Adieu, Assyria I loved thee well, my own, my father’s land, And better as my country than my kingdom. I satiated thee with peace and joys; and this Is my reward! And now I owe thee nothing, Not even a grave. (V.i. 492–7)

Eugène Delacroix, in his painting “The Death of Sardanapalus” (1827–1828), has rendered the scene more as a sacrificial orgy as Sardanapalus witnesses the slaughter of his naked concubines. Byron gives more dignity to his hero, who expresses love for his country even while he persists in proclaiming “peace and joys.” He expresses love for his country, without resorting to the bald chauvinism of Moncrieff’s tribute to “Generous Britons.” The multiple refractions of then and now, there and here amid the representational matrices of Byron’s play reveal yet another variation on the matrices of doubleness in Romantic drama. The survey of examples could go on, but the purpose of this sampling is not simply to exhibit that the “elsewhere” of the Romantic stage was historically and geographically wide-ranging. That range might be confirmed just by 17 Moncrieff’s The Cataract of the Ganges was performed at Drury Lane, Oct 27, 1823. The role of the Rajah, who recites this grand tribute to British soldiers, was played by Younge.

Gateway to Heterotopia: Elsewhere on Stage


consulting a catalogue of titles. What is important is that “elsewhere” on the stage, from contemporary docu-drama to the remoter ranges of Europe and the Orient, provides a matrix for authorial manipulation of levels of reference and representation, and brings into play a complexity of social and cultural interaction that explores, exploits, explodes audience fears and desires.

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Chapter 2

To Be and Not To Be: The Bounded Body and Embodied Boundary in Inchbald’s A Simple Story Valerie Henitiuk University of East Anglia

Elizabeth Inchbald’s A Simple Story (1791), a complex and fascinating study of power struggles between the sexes, has been called “the most elegant English fiction of the century” and one that reveals an “exquisite extremism” (Castle 290–91). My reading here focuses on one vital aspect of this extreme elegance: Inchbald’s depiction of the need to cross borderlines both real and metaphorical, balanced by the external and internal forces that hinder any such crossing. Lady Matilda, the second of the novel’s two heroines, is living on the edge and must seek to establish a form of refuge and potentiality on, rather than behind or beyond, the boundary dividing two conditions or stages. Where either side of that threshold functions as a hostile “anti-space” (Bronfen 15), the liminal offers, if not “felicitous space” (Freyer), at least the promise of a “space of preparation” (see Bachelard 110) for eventual subjectivity and agency. Anthropologists have characterized liminality as a transient phase that, while serving primarily to reinforce the normative societal structure, nonetheless threatens disruption or even chaos. It thus implies at least the possibility of alternative gender and social arrangements. This article examines how and why this particular woman author employs an embodied boundary image (in effect a border “non-crossing”) to destabilize the center/margin paradigm, and thereby challenge gendered hierarchical practices based on a damaging imbalance of power, symbolized by the bounded female body. Lady Matilda’s incarceration in her father’s house is both physical and psychological/social, functioning as a rite of passage leading to her re-incorporation into patriarchal society. The apartments allotted to her in Elmwood Castle are distinctly liminal, such as Victor Turner has described: a “milieu detached from mundane life and characterized by the presence of ambiguous ideas, … ordeals, humiliations, esoteric and paradoxical instructions, [and] anonymity” (Turner, “Universals,” 11). The instructions given to Matilda to reside with her father, but invisibly so, are certainly paradoxical, ambiguous, and humiliating. Similarly to Gustavo Pérez Firmat, who analyzes a carnivalesque liminality in Hispanic literature, my intention here is “to explore and exploit the interpretive power, the hermeneutic reach” (Firmat xiii) of liminality employed as a subversive subtext in Part II of A Simple Story, as part of a larger project concerned with the liminality motif in


Romantic Border Crossings

women-authored fiction. This concept was of course first defined in early twentiethcentury anthropology by Arnold van Gennep, as the second of three phases of ritual initiation: séparation (preliminal), marge (liminal), and aggrégation (postliminal). Beginning in the 1960s, Turner elaborated on his predecessor’s theory and set the stage for its wide-ranging application by scholars in many fields. Sociologically speaking, liminality is dangerous but necessary. The liminar’s status “becomes ambiguous, neither here nor there, betwixt and between all fixed points of classification” (Turner, Forest, 232), and therefore he/she eludes everyday controls. Jacqueline Urla defines liminality as “those times or places that are outside of or on the threshold of ordinary structures with which we organize our lives” (Urla 101), which suggests that lives can be reorganized according to alternative structures, thus pointing to its revolutionary implications. While threatening social chaos by challenging and redefining societal roles and definitions, liminality usefully acts as a form of release or catharsis, revitalizing the liminar and his/her community. Turner has explained that van Gennep’s paradigm applies to extra-ritual as well as ritual processes, to any moment when the actors moving “in accordance with a cultural script [are] liberated from normative demands…. In this gap between ordered worlds almost anything may happen” (Turner, Forest, 13). Perhaps Turner’s most important insight was to argue that, whereas for van Gennep the marge functions as a fleeting interstitial moment that is promptly resolved, it can in fact expand into a state in and of itself: liminality thus becomes synchronic/spatial, rather than solely diachronic/temporal. In this way, the actions of a heroine located outside a threatening binary structure can serve as an effective vehicle “for protesting coercive gender and social arrangements and for revealing the nexus between internal psychological conflict and social power cleavages” (Gilead 308). Matilda’s liminality may be imposed by her father’s actions and decisions, but her ready acquiescence to the ludicrous arrangement he ordains reveals an awareness of its potential for herself. Female confinement is a staple theme in late eighteenth-century English prose, one that “can be seen simply as a convention of the sentimental and the Gothic novel, but [that in fact] works to politicize women’s socio-economic and psychic plight” (Ty 13). Inchbald does something very new and revolutionary with the trope by describing a liminal confinement that is paradoxically liberating. Although Matilda is obliged to remain withdrawn from the public world of men, it is nonetheless made clear that her private, interior, feminized world is not (cannot be) a fully separate sphere, but rather one that is ineluctably impacted by (indeed, constructed by) masculine whims and demands. Owing to the infidelity and subsequent flight of her mother (formerly a Miss Milner, whose own fascinating story of gender confrontation is narrated in Part I), Matilda has been raised apart from her father, the inflexible Lord Elmwood (formerly Mr. Dorriforth). During a childhood hidden away on the Scottish border, she might as well not have existed at all. Left suddenly motherless as an adolescent, she is offered shelter in the paternal home on condition that she is not seen to be living there and that her presence is never even alluded to by anyone in the household. Existing, therefore, as a haunting figure inhabiting a kind of parallel universe within an isolated suite of rooms, allowed access to the main part of the

The Bounded Body and Embodied Boundary in Inchbald’s A Simple Story


house only during Elmwood’s absence, throughout most of her story this heroine is and simultaneously is not. Whereas Terry Castle reads Matilda as an unspoiled version of Miss Milner/Lady Elmwood, taking her mother’s place for a happier marriage and future life, Patricia Meyer Spacks offers a more negative reading that sees Matilda’s story as “not a narrative of female freedom and power, but one of necessary acceptance and limited reconciliation” (Spacks 199). My own interpretation is that Inchbald offers far greater nuance than either of these viewpoints allow, and that Matilda is in fact employed as an agent of protest (albeit a cautiously subtle protest—providing a more realistic counterpoint to Miss Milner’s open rebellion) against unjust patriarchal rule. Her presence in absence destabilizes her father’s certainties, in that she becomes more insistently foregrounded the more he attempts to keep her concealed behind the real and figurative boundaries prescribed for her existence. Paula R. Backscheider argues for an “exploitation of liminality” as “the most revolutionary aspect” of early prose fiction in general: “These fictions were bringing together the public and private, mediating exchange value and use value, politicizing and privatizing their subjects, dramatizing the turn from a religious to a secular world, and their authors [were] often in liminal positions themselves—women, Nonconformists, Catholics, and socially marginal men …. They and their texts occupied a liminal space” (Backscheider 18). As a highly attractive actress, a selftaught woman of letters, and an independent widow, our author herself existed very much betwixt and between normative roles for females of her day. Michael Boardman rightly notes that “Inchbald begins her novels with external barriers” (such as Dorriforth’s vow of celibacy—a Catholic priest, he is eventually released from orders so that he may produce an heir) and moves on to “create[…] a separate set of barriers, much more formidable, rooted in [the] radically different characters” (Boardman 212) of Miss Milner and her guardian. These barriers are, I believe, then explored more profoundly through their impact on Lady Matilda. Inchbald avoids offering any facile resolution for dealing with such barriers, instead problematizing any open communication between male and female, power and weakness, privilege and dependence. The spaces on either side of a given boundary are, for Matilda, “constrictive and morbid …, signify[ing] a stagnation that opposes movement” (Bronfen 15) and even survival itself, and thus do not constitute feasible options. She cannot live unproblematically on the “feminine” side of these binaries, because for her father the feminine is inescapably connected with his betrayal by her mother, but is obviously unable to move to the “masculine” side either. Matilda is aware from her mother’s story that open defiance of such limited options serves merely to reinforce the arbitrary and often utterly ruthless power under which she suffers, and thus she seeks other means of establishing subjecthood. The limen serves as a locale of at least qualified liberation for an active agent, a space within which her subjectivity can be constructed and expressed. By means of the paradoxical independence that the third space confers, she gains acknowledgement by those who would disregard her needs and desires. Unlike Miss Milner, who has been called a “wild and wayward heroine” (Shaffer 118), Lady Matilda is anything but. “Schooled in adversity,” she knows instinctively how to submit and how to render her necessary resistance all but invisible, and why


Romantic Border Crossings

that is the only possible course of action for someone in her position. Whereas the mother loses everything by her flouting of social codes, the daughter’s submission eventually means elevated status, security, and happiness. To the alert reader, Matilda’s over-the-top expressions of filial piety and respect for the Law of the Father must call attention to what Spacks calls the “desperation of dependency” (Spacks 164), whereby her submission to arbitrary rules is revealed as a “counter-message” to the superficial one of female submissiveness. There can be no question that this heroine is increasingly foregrounded by virtue of the performance of absence forced upon her. Matilda’s trials, which “dramatize… the predicament of the powerless” (Spacks 164), allow her to demonstrate the courage and maturity necessary to endure and overcome injustice. More significantly, they ask the reader to question the prevailing distribution of power and its human costs. By following Lord Elmwood’s commands to the letter, Matilda escapes facile categorization and restriction to the femininemarked, disempowered side of the binary. In other words, the patriarch’s attempt both to own and disown her in fact allows the heroine to find a third way. Ian Balfour, in his discussion of the problematized promise, underscores the “complicated thematics and semiotics of inside and outside” (Balfour 250) created throughout this novel. Beatriz Colomina and other architectural theorists have observed that interior and exterior exist only by virtue of the line that separates them, the liminal stress line that relates inner to outer, here to there, and that thereby renders any such distinction meaningful. Neither side exists unilaterally: “the interior and exterior are constructed simultaneously … the tension between inside and outside resides in the walls that divide them …” (Colomina 94). In order to control or even understand the spaces in which we live, we must focus attention on the enabling limen. It is no accident that the fateful meeting of Lord Elmwood and his daughter takes place in a stairwell, which serves not only to link her inner rooms to the outside world, but also as a vertical form of the quintessential liminal space: a bridge. But the final reconciliation does not occur until Matilda is threatened with the socially liminal position of illicit mistress to the licentious Lord Margrave (he kidnaps and intends to rape her), which would place her beyond the pale, and the father who wouldn’t be is finally forced to intervene and guide her toward a more appropriate postliminal condition. Upon the death of her mother, Matilda had re-entered her father’s world as a young woman who is eventually made an offer of marriage, and thus her story should constitute the classic female initiation rite, but the literalization of her liminality actually subverts this process. Courtship is, of course, “a liminal space—it is between childhood and adulthood, between dependency and responsibility, between autonomy and relationship, and invested with private and public concerns. Intimacy and personal happiness are no less issues than economics and the families’ symbolic capital” (Backscheider 21). Miss Milner was shown explicitly to employ courtship as a subversive space, as the one period during which she is able to wield a power denied her as either underage ward or wife, and Inchbald makes of Matilda’s story also an upending of masculine control, albeit in a less obvious fashion. While it is suggested that Matilda’s possibilities for marital bliss with Rushbrook (her father’s adopted heir) are strong, the author deliberately brings her novel to a close without offering a resolution, again leaving both heroine and reader on the threshold, and therefore

The Bounded Body and Embodied Boundary in Inchbald’s A Simple Story


underscoring the significant intersection of liminality and femininity. Accepting the hitherto feminized Rushbrook as husband would render Matilda legally, socially, and economically subservient to him, but this young woman’s moment of decision remains eternally suspended, and she is thereby effectively freed from being contained within or excluded from categories defined and controlled by others. In her study of the Gothic, Kate Ellis writes of “the distinctly masculine problem of the threshold, engendered because men not only can but must move back and forth between the male and female spheres” (Ellis 166), whereas women remain confined within the interior. However, this novel demands that the problematic threshold be unambiguously recognized as a distinctly feminine concern, given that the in-between is more commonly the female, and that her potential border crossings are rarely within her control. Inchbald recognizes this aspect of the female condition and, rather than merely reversing the gendered “separate spheres,” fundamentally disrupts the very notion in this novel. A Simple Story belongs in large part to a gothic romance tradition typified by the works of Inchbald’s contemporary Ann Radcliffe. Female novelists, in particular, have been drawn to its possibilities for exploring the impact of violence, or the threat of violence, on a character’s psychological state and behavior. As I have already discussed, both parts I and II of the novel under discussion here are “pervasively organized around anxieties about boundaries (and boundary transgressions)” (Williams 16), which Williams and others identify as one of the genre’s central concerns, especially as developed by writers such as Radcliffe, Clara Reeve, Charlotte Smith, and Sophia Lee. Although our author eschews the supernatural trappings of disembodied spirits, mysterious disappearances, etc. often present in the female gothic, she does problematize a woman’s relationship with patriarchal control and employ a melodramatic plotline involving the immuring, kidnapping, and threatened rape of a beautiful young heroine, all of which elements are among its hallmarks. Although that heroine may initially appear rather passive and dull, closer readings have shown her to possess agency and an intelligence that belie the stereotype. Beginning with Ellen Moers’ Literary Women (1976) and Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar’s The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the NineteenthCentury Literary Imagination (1979), female-authored gothic has commonly been read as a more or less successfully coded challenge to the prevalent gender hierarchy and the values it would impose. In recent years, this fiction has proven fertile ground for feminist analysis, which highlights the heroines’ responses to a repression of their sexuality and the fraught relation they have with the “private female world of the home” (Hoeveler 5). The patriarchal home is revealed as anything but sanctuary to the helpless women who, at the mercy of a tyrannical father or father figure, are locked away somewhere deep within the “ancestral mansion … owned and built by men” (Gilbert and Gubar xi).1 Much criticism has emphasized the persecuted heroine’s negotiation of these menacing, imprisoning spaces, suggesting that the

1 With delicious understatement, Annibel Jenkins speaks of the “very dysfunctional family situation” (Jenkins 277) in this novel.


Romantic Border Crossings

recurrent “images of enclosure and escape” were crafted by “artists [who themselves felt] literally and physically confined” (Gilbert and Gubar xi). The ever-present threat that the subordinated female element will eventually burst forth and thereby bring down the patriarchal structure that has endeavored to keep her penned in is the metaphor on which Gilbert and Gubar base their model for understanding nineteenth-century women’s writing. As is well known, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre provides the paradigmatic “madwoman in the attic”: namely Rochester’s first, Jamaican Creole wife, whose inconvenient existence he tries and fails to suppress. I argue that the image of a wrongfully confined woman appears as an important feminist subtext in Part II of A Simple Story as well. Although it may not be obvious at first glance—Matilda is certainly no “bad, mad, and embruted” (Brontë 320) lunatic, no “clothed hyena” (Brontë 321)—Inchbald’s second heroine can helpfully be read as a significant foremother to Bertha Mason, and Elmwood Castle as a precursor to Thornfield Hall.2 In surprisingly similar ways, both Bertha and Matilda are constructed as there-but-not-there presences, kept out of sight but, no matter how hard the patriarch may try, never completely out of mind. If it is true that “a house makes secrets in merely being itself, for its function is to enclose spaces” (Williams 44), the gothic manor house offers a quintessentially clandestine enclosure. The master of Elmwood Castle seeks to restore social order (that which was first disrupted by Miss Milner and now by her daughter’s intrusion into his rigidly arranged life and beliefs) by locking up and then feigning an ignorance of Matilda, but the attempt is doomed to backfire on him. The male arrogantly seeks to negate the humanity of what he perceives as the female needlessly complicating his life, imprisoning her on his property while simultaneously denying knowledge of her very existence. As a liminal entity enclosed within an arbitrarily defined, restrictive, and concealed space, the heroine operates as an implicit critique of the inequitable system oppressing her, as well as of the falsehoods and intrigues on which it is based. If even the home—the domestic sphere that is supposed to be a securely feminine sphere—is revealed as an implement whereby a ruthless patriarchy exercises domination, then any spatial autonomy ascribed to women is ultimately exposed as illusory. Maurice Lévy has famously proposed architecture as the essence of gothic: “le genre ... se caractérise, de façon primordiale à nos yeux, par le rôle déterminant qu’y jouent les demeures. L’imaginaire, dans ces romans, est toujours logé” (qtd. in Delamotte 6–7). Inchbald’s Matilda is indeed logée, but in a very troublesome manner to both herself and others. She is forced to exist inside the Elmwood house as a sort of apparition—the living ghost of her mother—apprehensively haunting the rooms occupied by those in supposedly more legitimate possession of that space. In response to the power disequilibrium established to ensure that female sexuality and other forms of self-expression are suppressed, Matilda re-imagines her explicitly liminal, visible/invisible demeure as a space of resistance to androcentric power 2 Other critics have written on the liminality motif in Jane Eyre, but none (to my knowledge) has yet explored the liminality of Bertha Mason in particular. Mark Hennelly’s analysis concentrates on Jane’s progress though her life crisis as a series of threshold crossings. Sarah Gilead also references Jane Eyre in her discussions of liminality in Victorian novels, but does not delve into its specific application with regard to Brontë’s characters.

The Bounded Body and Embodied Boundary in Inchbald’s A Simple Story


structures. Her banished but not quite vanished existence calls attention to the limits of what is permitted to be socially visible. The heroine stubbornly claims her right to subjecthood, but is constrained to express it furtively, with a wary eye to those whose concerted efforts are focused on making the awkward fact of her existence disappear. What this woman’s story powerfully describes is ultimately a life-ordeath struggle to carve an autonomous female space out of the hostile male space that envelops her. Let us bear in mind that Matilda, like Bertha, is located to a certain degree beyond the reach of public law. With so few aware of her presence on the nobleman’s private estate, and fewer still who would be willing to intervene on her behalf in any case, hers is a state of significant personal peril. The father’s whim becomes for Inchbald’s heroine ultimately the only law, revealing that the entire juridical structure ostensibly evolved to protect all British subjects has little to offer at least half of those subjects. Matilda’s abduction by Margrave underscores the fundamental precariousness of her situation and the fact that patriarchal laws cannot or will not protect women, or will do so only where it is to the patriarch’s own benefit. Hoeveler sees female gothic novels “functioning as a coded and veiled critique of all of those public institutions that have been erected to displace, contain, or commodify women” (Hoeveler xiii). Although her discussion does not, unfortunately, include A Simple Story, it seems obvious that this is precisely Inchbald’s project as well, in that the only fault that can be ascribed to the displaced and commodified Matilda is that she is female, daughter to her mother. Ty helpfully explains that, in the absence of actual criminal behavior such as theft or prostitution, there are a variety of interrelated reasons why men may desire to incarcerate the other sex: “to curtail women’s intellectual development and knowledge, to shape and transform female sexual desires, to control women’s properties or inheritance, and to break matrilineal and maternal bonds” (Ty 14–15). Matilda personally has done absolutely nothing wrong, and so her oppression reveals that the impulse to punish her is a purely misogynistic one. Ironically, it is Matilda’s self-discipline, fostered directly by an unbreakable maternal bond and the knowledge of the danger of female sexual desire that the mother’s example instilled, that helps her overcome the unjust discipline Elmwood claims the right to inflict. Matilda is subject to an unrelenting pattern of concealment and exposure that cannot help but impress upon her the imperative of finding some way to control her own displacements. She is first hidden (along with Lady Elmwood) throughout childhood; “seen” (i.e., brought to Lord Elmwood’s attention) upon her mother’s death and her own entrance into adulthood (i.e., as a sexually available woman); hidden by Elmwood within his own castle; seen (literally) by Elmwood; subsequently hidden elsewhere; and yet again exposed, this time by Margrave’s kidnapping, which results in her once more being “seen” (i.e., acknowledged) by her father. The more apparently “hidden” by and from others, the more foregrounded and endangered she actually becomes. Because she is denied the ability to define her own identity and personal space, putting the lie to the ideology of separate but equal spheres, every act of concealment necessarily contains the possibility—or rather probability—of exposure: the woman is always already exposed, seen, possessed. Each step of the ceaselessly repeated process of concealing and revealing female flesh incites rather than quells male competition for control of that body.


Romantic Border Crossings

It should be noted that, for a woman, any removal from her father’s house (other than to her husband’s) must not be made known, as it would raise questions about her inviolability and intactness, and indirectly the father’s own respectability and honor. If she had become mistress, willingly or no, to Margrave, she would have been ruined, figuratively “dead” to members of her social class, and this devaluation would reflect badly on her entire family. Of course, Inchbald’s mastery of irony is again apparent: this punishment of a living death, a social non-existence, has already been imposed by Matilda’s own father. Both exposure and concealment equal vulnerability, and so Matilda seeks on the limen a place to hide away, to be secure from further victimization. Given that it is built on gendered privilege and exclusion, the house of the father must signify alienation for a woman, even when she is nominally sheltered within it. Matilda, like all women dependent on a less than benevolent patriarchy, can never be truly “at home,” where “home” would mean a place of straightforward security and belonging: by virtue of her sex, she is existentially homeless. In her engagement with the paradigm of feminine interiority, Inchbald reveals an intuitive understanding of this fact and responds by actively employing the tactics of what has been called “gothic feminism.” Hoeveler has coined this phrase to explain her belief that female gothic novelists were “constructing a series of ideologies … that would allow their female characters and by extension their female readers a fictitious mastery over what they considered an oppressive social and political system” (Hoeveler xii). The settings that Matilda inhabits reflect patriarchal neglect and oppression of women, an attempt to annihilate, to shut up (in both senses of the phrase) the feminine.3 Ellis writes about Sophia Lee’s The Recess (1783) in terms that are fully relevant here as well: the “confining parent” does not turn the patriarchal home “into a prison temporarily but [instead] reveal[s] imprisonment to be its inevitable function” (Ellis 70) where so many wives and daughters are concerned. Nonetheless, total containment of the female is revealed as impossible, even to a virtually omnipotent lord of the manor such as Elmwood. Despite his repeated and increasingly improbable denial of any knowledge of her existence, Matilda becomes uncannily present in Lord Elmwood’s life. She seizes power by being present while simultaneously absent, turning the tables on a paradoxical situation that Elmwood himself has countenanced, even constructed. Matilda takes the literally “unheimlich” (i.e., un-homely) and makes it figuratively “unheimlich” (i.e., uncanny). The more he tries to render her invisible to himself, the more insistently she looms before him in his mind’s eye. He can no longer keep her from entering his thoughts, cannot move beyond the obsessive idea of her— because her hiding is virtually out in the open, it can never be complete. Each time someone refrains from mentioning Matilda’s name, from announcing her presence to Elmwood, it merely announces her presence-in-absence even more loudly. Matilda may submit to incarceration, biding her time with almost infinite patience, but she does not surrender in a docile way. Instead, she actively constructs herself as a 3 The liminal sojourn in Elmwood Castle functions the most obviously to indicate a literally un-homely space, but the Scottish border cottage was also an inappropriate shelter for someone of Matilda’s high birth.

The Bounded Body and Embodied Boundary in Inchbald’s A Simple Story


sovereign subject by taking ownership of her liminality and challenging the confining either-or spaces that would disadvantageously define her. Like Rochester, Elmwood pretends that he is fulfilling his obligations merely by feeding and sheltering this unwanted woman, and tries to carry on with his life as if she and her just claims on him do not have to be taken into account. To these representatives of the patriarchy, a self-assertive female is by definition monstrous, the sole purpose of whose existence seems to be to destroy their well regulated, highly privileged life. Matilda’s presence does in fact act as a metaphorical infection with regard to Elmwood and his world, leaking beyond the bounds set for containment of that presence to infiltrate the foundations of the masculine owned and controlled house and the beliefs on which it is constructed. Like Bertha Mason, Matilda haunts her imperious master’s interior space, traipsing unbidden through its hidden and not-so-hidden rooms, always with the possibility that she will emerge from her mandated position of invisibility. Claudia L. Johnson comments on what she terms the “egregious affectivity” of emotional response in sentimental fiction of the late eighteenth century: In works by Wollstonecraft, Radcliffe, Godwin, Lewis, and Burney (to name only a few), emotions are saturated in turbulent and disfiguring excess; not simply patently disruptive emotions—such as ambition, greed, anger, lust—but ostensibly gentler ones as well— such as reverence, sorrow, even filial devotion—are always and obviously going over the top, and then some. (Johnson 1–2)

The posturing of characters in A Simple Story is frequently immoderate, and this aspect has often been considered a weakness in Inchbald’s writing. However, as in melodrama, this narratorial strategy gives us “intense, excessive representations of life [that are used] to strip away the façade of manners to reveal the essential conflicts at work, leading to moments of intense and highly stylized confrontations” (Hoeveler 9). The intensity of a confrontation can take different forms. Miss Milner never learns how to moderate her passions, of course, but is Matilda so very different in terms of her insistent protestations of love and reverence for her father or her excessive posture of childish immaturity? The daughter recognizes the recklessness of openly expressing ambition, sexuality, or anger—the few times her rage or frustration erupts, for instance, it is either redirected or immediately suppressed—and so instead finds an apparently less aggressive means for bringing those underlying conflicts into the light of day, namely an over-the-top expression of “ostensibly gentle” and approved emotions. The direct, physical encounter between Matilda and her father in the stairwell should make him see that she is a subject in her own right, but he still insists on seeing her as merely a stand-in for another. When she faints into his arms, all this male can do is clutch her to his bosom and react as if she were her mother: His long-restrained tears now burst forth—and seeing her relapse into the swoon again, he cried out eagerly to recall her.—Her name did not however come to his recollection—nor any name but this—‘Miss Milner—Dear Miss Milner.’ (Inchbald 274)

Does Matilda’s swoon indicate that she is horrified into unconsciousness at this exposure and its potential consequences, or is she merely making logical use of a


Romantic Border Crossings

safely feminine response in order to circumvent those very consequences? Insofar as Elmwood, the self-centered and willfully blind representative of a powerful and misogynist patriarchy, is concerned, Matilda is and yet is not: even when enfolded in his embrace, she is taken as her mother and thus placed in danger. To protect herself, Matilda exploits a correct, if excessive, feminine response. Likewise, when Rushbrook is tempted to make amorous overtures, she is able to disrupt his plans (and her father’s) by taking refuge in an asexual and uncomprehending persona that unmarried girls are in fact supposed to display. She takes the “façade of manners” intended to control woman and turns it into an intelligent strategy for confronting while seeming never to confront. Spacks cites Frederic Karl as follows on “the essential subversiveness of the eighteenth-century novel” (Spacks 11): From its start, the English novel has represented an adversary culture. Although it seemed to bow to the tastes and needs of the new bourgeoisie, it also stood for new and often dangerous ideas, criticized the predominant culture, and displayed what were often subversive forms of behavior. It upset familiar assumptions, questioned realistic presuppositions, and tested out, however sparingly at times, new ideas, forbidden desires, secret wishes. (qtd. in Spacks 11)

The openly adversarial behavior of the mother in Part I of A Simple Story was a clear expression of forbidden desires; what the daughter has learned is the need for more subtle subversion of the restrictive conditions of her existence. Matilda’s occupation of the liminal in Part II demonstrates an acute recognition of the need for caution: to return to the preliminal stage of childhood (or, metaphorically speaking, ignorance) is impossible, and yet the postliminal states from which she is supposed to choose give her pause. There is indeed no real difference between taking an illicit position (i.e., as Margrave’s mistress, as Elmwood’s object of incestuous lust, or, eventually to follow her mother’s example, as disgraced, adulterous wife) or a licit, but equally disempowered position as wife to her father’s heir. Self-aware heroines must fear what Sandford in a moment of great perception describes as “the disposal of themselves … that great, that terrific disposal in marriage” (Inchbald 129) or otherwise. The woman in the attic as imagined by Elizabeth Inchbald is not, as Spacks would have it, a figure of “female compliance,” of “the typical female necessity of giving up” (Spacks 202), despite what the characterization of Matilda initially suggests. It could reasonably be argued that Brontë, some sixty years later, merely took Matilda’s story the next logical step in having Bertha rise up and burn down the entire oppressive enterprise, maiming and almost killing her oppressor in the process. Inchbald, like her contemporary, fellow writer, and feminist pioneer Mary Wollstonecraft, demonstrates “an astute awareness of the confines of women’s social positions” (Conway 179), and both parts of the novel under discussion in this chapter criticize the familiar, prevailing culture by a display of highly subversive behavior. Castle sees Miss Milner’s story as one involving the desire to transgress an external “forbidden zone” (e.g., the masquerade ball that she attends in spite of its being forbidden by her fiancé), whereas the daughter’s transgression is literally closer to home:

The Bounded Body and Embodied Boundary in Inchbald’s A Simple Story


Unlike her mother, Matilda does not go anywhere in order to transgress—anywhere that is, outside Elmwood Castle. She seeks out no ‘promiscuous’ occasion, no suspect public diversion. Rather, the realm of transgression is inside: it is within the house of the father, part of domesticity itself. (Castle 325)

This critic rightly describes Inchbald’s innovation in this matter as “remarkable,” but I would argue that our author is actually even more innovative than credited, because the realm of transgression is in fact presented as the feminine condition itself. If both Miss Milner’s and Matilda’s “marriage narratives” are “insistently bizarre” (Conway 211), Inchbald makes them so in order to focus the reader’s attention critically on the more typical female trajectory and the inherently damaging social structure on which it is based. Matilda refuses identification as either criminal or, despite her innate virtuousness, the “angel in the house,” to borrow Virginia Woolf’s coinage for the idealized image of a devoted, selfless wife and mother that the female sex is advised to emulate. Inchbald makes the implicit explicit and, as Spacks comments with regard to eighteenth-century novels in general, “[a] sometimes breathtaking sense of sexual antagonism permeates th[is] fiction[…]” (Spacks 190). If the misogynist Sandford of this novel’s Part I regards a woman’s necessity of choosing to bind herself to a man “with affright and dismay” (Inchbald 129), how much more so Matilda, who has the painful experience of her mother and the malevolent characters of both Elmwood and Margrave to inform her all too rational resistance? Matilda does not simply occupy the disadvantaged side of a boundary line, she is forced by the imposition of patriarchal power—as well as by her own desire to survive—to straddle (to embody) the boundary itself: she can be neither here nor there, neither present nor absent, neither beloved nor disowned, neither fully mistress of the house nor fully dispossessed. Sarah Gilead usefully points out that narration of liminal events can transform the literary work “into a tool for interrogating and re-imagining social values and power arrangements” (Gilead 306), and this is indeed what A Simple Story accomplishes. This heroine’s insistently liminal existence challenges the patriarchal order and exposes its underlying binaries as harmful. Matilda steadfastly remains betwixt and between, unobtrusively but no less successfully denying others the right to define and control her. As daughter to a disgraced mother and a tyrannical father, Matilda is literally taboo (not to be seen or spoken of) and liminal (simultaneously disowned and yet still under his protection, both required and forbidden to exist independently of his world). Her very existence compromises the boundaries that Lord Elmwood would enforce, while her presence in absence within his house draws attention to the limits of any woman’s existence under a patriarchal system. Inchbald’s Lady Matilda masterfully represents that which is but which nonetheless must not be, and does so through her embodiment of the liminal.

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Chapter 3

Byron Under the Black Flag Talissa Ford University of California, Berkeley

If I have a wife, and that wife has a son—by any body—I will bring up mine heir in the most anti-poetical way—make him a lawyer, or a pirate, or—any thing. But if he writes too, I shall be sure he is none of mine, and cut him off with a Bank token. Byron, 17 March 1814 journal entry

It’s a lovely notion, a little baby Byron pirate. Captain George Gordon Jr, pirateking. Byron’s striking indifference to the question of paternity and the unavoidable fact that it is he, after all, who actually does the writing (of “if he writes too”), gives the distinct impression that it is not Byron Junior in question here at all, that it is Byron himself who should have been a pirate—an exaggeration or a joke, surely. But this journal entry comes on the tail of two pirate poems, and in the midst of rumors that Byron himself is Conrad, the “veritable corsair”—rumors which Byron has taken pains to only partly deny.1 If he is not exactly planning to raise the Jolly Roger himself, piracy is at least seeming to Byron a real option—more real, that is, than the scribbling with which he has been wasting his time. And so, with the completion of The Corsair, pirate poem number two, Byron swears off poetry forever, writes longingly of adventure in his journals, dreams of being sixteenth-century pirates Hayreddin and Barbarossa, and, as we see above, preemptively disowns any son or even any future wife’s lover’s son who thinks of writing instead of, say, piracy.2 In a 1 From a journal entry of 10 March 1814: “[Hobhouse] told me an odd report,—that I am the actual Conrad, the veritable Corsair, and that part of my travels are supposed to have passed in privacy [piracy?]. Um!—people sometimes hit near the truth, but never the whole truth. H. don’t know what I was about the year after he left the Levant, nor does any one—nor—nor—nor—however, it is a lie—but, ‘I doubt the equivocation of the fiend that lies like truth!’” (BLJ III 250) 2 From a journal entry of 22 November 1813: “And yet a little tumult, now and then, is an agreeable quickener of sensation; such as a revolution, a battle, or an aventure of any lively description. I think I rather would have been Bonneval, Ripperda, Alberoni, Hayreddin, or Horuc Barbarossa, or even Wortley Montague, than Mahomet himself.” (BLJ III 213). Of The Corsair, Byron writes to Murray in February 1814: ‘It doubtless gratifies me much that our Finale has pleased—& that the Curtain drops gracefully …. We shall now part I hope satisfied with each other …. Besides I have other views & objects—& think that I shall keep this resolution—for since I left London—though shut up—snowbound—thawbound—& tempted with all kinds of paper—the dirtiest of ink—and the bluntest of pens—I have not even been haunted by a wish to put them to their combined uses—except in letters of business—my


Romantic Border Crossings

nation wrought with fear of its inhabitants turning Turk, Byron has one-upped them and turned pirate. And in terms of England’s—or any—national project, pirates are even worse than Turks. Turks threaten the nation’s soul, sure, but pirates threaten its heart and veins, hit the nation where it matters most: its trade routes. I would like to suggest that what Byron’s own piracy marks is equally threatening. His is a new—a piratical—way of understanding how territory works: borders mean nothing, and movement is everything. Late eighteenth-century accounts of the pirate, in newspapers and fiction alike, echo (or duplicate outright) Captain Johnson’s widely published 1724 A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates.3 It is the General History that gives us our (semi-)factual accounts of Blackbeard, Bartholomew (Black Bart) Roberts, Captains Avery and Kidd, and the famous female pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read; even now, nearly 300 years after its publication, Captain Johnson is the source for nearly all our pirate tales. He is also responsible for the fear and reverence with which pirates are (and were) held in the popular consciousness: his pirates are fierce and fearless, swashbuckling and sexy, mysterious, alluring, and sometimes even noble. They are simultaneously British and its darker, more exotic other. But make no mistake: The General History is an explicit act of (British) nation building. The collection begins with a nod to European, and particularly British, trade: As the Pyrates in the West-Indies have been so formidable and numerous, that they have interrupted the Trade of Europe into those Parts; and our English Merchants, in particular, have suffered more by their Depredations, than by the united Force of France and Spain in the late War: We do not doubt but the World will be curious to know the Origin and Progress of these Desperadoes, who were the Terror of the trading Part of the World (Johnson 1).

Those who make (and take) British money also make history. The pirates of the General History are permitted their allure only insofar as their exploits—and their bodies—can be forced into the service of the nation-state. Certainly, pirates had their uses. At the execution of William Fly and his fellow pirates, Cotton Mather elicited rhyming propensity is quite gone—& I feel much as I did at Patras on recovering from my fever—weak but in health and only afraid of a relapse—I do most fervently hope I never shall …’(BLJ IV 44). 3 “In spite of its modest appearance,” reports David Cordingly in the introduction to his recent edition of General History, “Captain Johnson’s book sold briskly. Within a few months a second edition was published, the author noting in the preface, ‘The first impression having been received with so much success by the public, occasioned a very earnest demand for a second.’ A third edition followed in 1725 and in 1726 a much enlarged fourth edition appeared. This included biographies of a dozen more pirates and was published in two volumes. Captain Johnson was so encouraged by the reception of the book that he decided to expand his subject matter and in 1734 he published A General History of the Lives and Adventures of the most famous Highwaymen, Murderers, Street Robbers, &c. to which is added a genuine Account of the Voyages and Plunders of the most notorious Pyrates. It has been said, and there seems no reason to question this, that Captain Johnson created the modern conception of pirates” (Johnson VIII).

Byron Under the Black Flag


from Fly’s fellows a sermon to the crowd; the pirates spoke from the gallows, warning their listeners to obey their parents, and not to curse, drink, whore, or profane the Lord’s day. “These three pirates,” continues Marcus Rediker, “acknowledged the justice of the proceedings against them, and they thanked the ministers for their assistance” (emphasis added, 2). Fly, who took the opportunity, not to caution the crowd against bad behavior, but to warn the ship captains against “Bad Usage”—that is, the mistreatment of sailors—was useful in spite of himself. After the execution, the ministers and magistrates of Boston hung Fly’s body in chains at the entrance of Boston Harbor “as a Spectacle for the Warning of others, especially Sea faring Men” (qtd. in Rediker 2). Johnson’s own cautious admiration for the pirates’ bravery and cunning hinges on their eventual capture; he enjoys their exploits from the safety of a nation which has already, for the most part, defeated them.4 And the pirates’ defeat is explicitly a triumph of Englishness. Consider Johnson’s claim that “our English merchants in particular have suffered more by [pirates’] depredations than by the united force of France and Spain, in the late war” (emphasis added, 1); those, as the saying goes, are fightin’ words. The pirates are worse than the papists—more foreign, more contagious, more expensive. The wars that could not be won against other nations can, and were, carried out against the pirates instead. This “war against the pirates”—not unlike our own war against terror—was a peculiar kind of war, fought against a hazily defined group of people who were without nation or government and only loosely identified with one another. These are details not likely to escape Byron’s notice, whose own frustration with all things landed or governmental was rapidly mounting. In a January 1814 journal entry he writes: As for me, by the blessing of indifference, I have simplified my politics into an utter detestation of all existing governments; and, as it is the shortest and most agreeable and summary feeling imaginable, the first moment of an universal republic would convert me into an advocate for single and uncontradicted despotism. The fact is, riches are power, and poverty is slavery all over the earth, and one sort of establishment is no better, nor worse, for a people than another. (BLJ III 242)

Glib tone aside, the problem is a real one: bother about the details all you want, but any government at all, once it has been linked to a territory, is bound to reproduce that same old system of power and slavery, wealth and poverty—just a “game of crowns and sceptres,” Byron will say later, a “mere jeu of the gods.”5 The solution would 4 “The campaign to ‘cleanse the seas,’” writes Rediker, “was undertaken and supported by royal officials, attorneys, merchants, publicists, clergymen, and writers who created, through proclamations, legal briefs, petitions, pamphlets, sermons, and newspaper articles, an image of the pirate that would legitimate his annihilation. The rhetorical, military, and legal campaign would, in the end, be successful. Piracy would come to an end by 1726” (127)— just, incidentally or not so incidentally, two years after the publication of the first edition of General History. 5 From a journal entry of 23 November 1813: ‘Past events have unnerved me; and all I can do now is to make life an amusement, and look on, while others play. After all—even the highest game of crowns and scepters, what is it? Vide Napoleon’s last twelvemonth. It has completely upset my sense of fatalism. I thought, if crushed, he would have fallen …. And not


Romantic Border Crossings

be a true cosmopolitanism, something like Kant’s dream of a world community. But British national identity, founded, as Linda Colley persuasively argues, on a sense of religious and political difference, was already at anxious odds with an economy based on international commerce. Competition with the Continental powers for trade routes only reinforced Britain’s sense of itself as a nation united against foreign (papist) powers. Besides, the ideal cosmopolitanism, as Cheah and Robbins explain in Cosmopolitics, is a distinctly pre-nationalist position, made possible only because the “state” was not yet bound to a territory. During the French Revolution, and as a response to Napoleonic invasions, national boundaries were solidified, and by the time Byron is blessed with his indifference, cosmopolitanism is complicated by all those borders—borders that had assumed some equivalence with the nations they were intended to define. Post-Napoleon, cosmopolitanism looks like imperialism: colonization is cosmopolitan, after all. And what is empire, if not the literalized dream of a world community? Byron reads this increasing complication as a regression, an inevitable cycling back to the same old. The slow downfall of Napoleon is, for Byron, a disappointing omen––one that, he says, “completely upsets my sense of fatalism.” “I thought if crushed,” mourns Byron, “he would have fallen, rather than been pared away into gradual insignificance” (BLJ III 218). But, he writes, (and here is the crucial, if somewhat paradoxical passage): Men never advance beyond a certain point;—and here we are, retrograding to the dull, stupid old system,—balance of Europe—poising straws upon kings noses instead of wringing them off! Give me a republic, or a despotism of one, rather than the mixed government of one, two, three. A republic!—look in the history of the Earth—Rome, Greece, Venice, France, Holland, America, our short (eheu!) Commonwealth, and compare it with what they did under masters. The Asiatics are not qualified to be republicans, but they have the liberty of demolishing despots, which is the next thing to it. To be the first man—not the Dictator— … [but] the leader in talent and truth—is next to the Divinity! (BLJ III 218)

It is not immediately clear what a republic and a despotism would have in common, by what logic Byron might skip from the republic to the “despotism of one,” what danger might lie in a “mixed government.” But the answer is here: “Look in the history of the earth,” he says—and by this he seems to mean the history of the West— “and compare it with what they did under masters.” The value of a despotism is not in the despot himself but in the revolt and rebuilding he inspires; what despotisms and republics have in common is that they produce and require a “leader in talent and truth,” a “first man,” as opposed to a dictator. The “first” carries of a lot of weight here, because what distinguishes the “leader in talent and truth” is precisely that he marks a first, a new beginning, a restructuring. In this sense, to be “the first man” is to be literally “next to the Divinity;” it is to perform an act of creation, rather than of inheritance or tradition. The privilege of demolishing despotism is the privilege

have been pared away to gradual insignificance;—that all this was not a mere jeu of the gods, but a prelude to greater changes and mightier events’ (BJ 218).

Byron Under the Black Flag


of rebuilding, from the bottom up; the privilege of a republic is to participate in a continual restructuring based on the will of the people. But of course this has not worked out; where Byron had believed Napoleon to be a “prelude to greater changes and mightier events,” his “paring away to insignificance” marks all aspects of the revolution—its ambitions both for a republic and for a “leader in talent and truth”—to be nothing more than a means of returning to the “dull, stupid old system, balance of Europe.” It is just around this time, between 1813 and 1814, when his “pagod” Napoleon is being repeatedly knocked from his pedestal—killing for Byron, not just the dream of a republic, but the fantasy even of a worthy despot— that Byron catches a low-grade piratical fever.6 The infection lasts only through The Bride of Abydos and The Corsair before his fever breaks. But talk of pirates peppers the journals of 1813 and 1814, the figure of the pirate will return briefly in Beppo and Don Juan, and there is a chance—though no one knows how likely—that Byron dined with Greek revolutionary and famous semi-retired pirate Lambros Katzones (also known as Lambro Canzani, Lambro Conzonni, and Lambro Canziani—who is mentioned in The Bride and of course Don Juan) in Constantinople in 1809. The interest, in other words, is real. It is hardly surprising. If the problem is that no government, as Byron says, is better or worse for people, that no matter where you go you are inscribed in a territory, a nation, and that those nations are set up in such a way that wealth (and more obliquely, race, gender, or nationality) determines power relations, then pirates are the answer. Pirates were not, explains Srinivas Aravamudan in Tropicopolitans, “identified with or beholden to the [that is, any] national project”: They formed a renegade subculture recruited from insubordinate elements of the seafaring milieu, and struck out for themselves in remarkable fashion, to the extent that historians have speculated that they were remnants of the radical elements from the English Revolution. Piracy was especially significant as a virtualizing activity on the colonial periphery. Some aspects of piracy represent a proletarian, anticapitalist challenge to the bourgeois economic and political institutions …. (Aravamudan 83)

In addition to “striking out for themselves,” pirates struck out in a remarkably multicultural fashion; if they were indeed “remnants of the radical elements from the English Revolution,” the Britishness in question acquired some color by the eighteenth century. Pirates were, in fact and fiction, multi-racial and multi-national— or, rather, super-racial and super-national. They were composed of a mess of races and nationalities and were integrated—and to some extent abandoned—under the Jolly Roger. “In this sense,” writes Kenneth J. Kinkor in “Black Men Under the Black Flag,” 6 From a journal entry of 8 April 1814: ‘Out of town six days. On my return, found my poor little pagod, Napoleon, pushed off his pedestal—the thieves are in Paris. It is his own fault. Like Milo, he would rend the oak; but it closed again, wedged his hands, and now the beasts—lion, bear, down to the dirtiest jackal—may all tear him. That Muscovite winter wedged his arms—ever since, he has fought with his feet and teeth. The last may still leave their marks; and ‘I guess now’ (as the Yankees say) that he will yet play them a pass. He is in their rear—between them and their homes. Query—will they ever reach him?’ (BLJ 256).


Romantic Border Crossings the long-standing pejorative characterization of pirates as ‘motley crews’ does have strong basis in fact. The crew of The Whydah Galley for example, included not only English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and British colonials but also Frenchmen, Dutchmen, Spaniards, Swedes, Native Americans, African-Americans, and Africans. Not even sharing a common language, they were united in a common enterprise transcending considerations of nationality and religion. (Kinkor 198)7

This “motley crew” is a fact Byron takes up in The Bride of Abydos, whose Selim describes his pirate band: ‘Tis true, they are a lawless brood, But rough in form, nor mild in mood: And every creed, and every race, With them hath found– may find a place. (II.363–6)

In this respect their lawlessness is a virtue. As they reject the laws of the nation, so too they reject the laws that govern social interaction and produce distinction and exclusion. Byron goes on, in fact, to qualify his pirates’ “lawlessness”: in relation to their home nations they are outlaws—literally outside the law—but of necessity they participate in a new governing to which they are faithful, with “open speech, and ready hand,/ Obedience to their chief’s command” (II.367-68). This restructuring of a government from the ground up is perhaps the aspect of piracy that resonates most with Byron’s own desires for a “republic or a despotism of one.” In The Many-Headed Hydra, Linebaugh and Rediker describe pirates as “democratic in an undemocratic age, egalitarian in a hierarchical age, class-conscious and justice-seeking.” The pirate-ship, they suggest, was a “world turned upside down,” a setting of resistance in which sailors, having suffered under the treatment of merchant ship officers, adopted what Linebaugh and Rediker describe as a “self-organization of sailors from below” (144). Though pirates granted their captain unquestioned authority in chase and battle, he was otherwise governed by popular consensus; one observer noted “They permit him to be Captain, on condition that they may be Captain over him” (qtd. in Linebaugh and Rediker 162). “Moreover,” say Linebaugh and Rediker, “as the majority gave, so did it take away, deposing captains for cowardice, for cruelty, for ‘refusing to take and plunder English Vessels,’ or even for being ‘too Gentlemanlike’” (162). Here is where you find Byron’s “leader in talent and truth”—the first man, rather than the tyrant—who builds a new government rather than claiming or inheriting the old. Eighteenth-century British sailors, retired from a series of wars fought over commodities for which they themselves labored (gold, silver, fish, furs, servants and slaves, sugar, tobacco, and manufactures), and participating for little pay and at great personal risk in a trade which was the “unifying process of the world economy,” reclaimed ships for themselves, seizing, as Linebaugh and Rediker put it,

7 Kinkor suggests that 25 to 30 percent of the 1000 or more pirates active between 1715 and 1726 were black, and blacks received their share of the booty as well as the right to vote. In many cases, blacks were leaders of predominantly white crews; even ex-slaves were treated as equals by other pirates (198).

Byron Under the Black Flag


“the means of maritime production and declar[ing] it to be the common property of those who did its work” (163). The question for Byron, and also for us, is what conditions can produce or enable this bottom-up building of government and society. The answer is a certain dissolution—or, more correctly, a dematerialization– of borders. The (supposed) freedom of the sea resides in the extent to which it lies beyond, a no-man’s-land outside, or between, the boundaries of nations. Its truest “inhabitants” are literally homeless—hence that cry “We hail from the seas”—and have been driven to the sea by a displacement and then forced to reenact it there (the privateer who, having lost his letters of marque, takes up with a pirate ship, sailors who join their wouldbe captors when their ship is taken over, escaped slaves, convicts on the run). Byron’s own Selim gestures towards a similar homelessness as the “cause” of his going on the account; raised by his father’s murderer and treated as the “son of a slave”—homeless at home—he is seduced by the freedom of the sea, by roaming as an alternative to a (landed) home. And though we don’t know the exact cause of The Corsair’s Conrad turning Pirate, we are told: His soul was changed, before his deeds had driven Him forth to war with man and forfeit heaven. Warped by the world in Disappointment’s school, in words too wise, in conduct there a fool; Too firm to yield, and far too proud to stoop, Doom’d by his very virtues for a dupe, [….] Fear’d, shunn’d, belied, ere youth had lost her force, He hated man too much to feel remorse. (I.251–62)

Here the typical isolation of the Byronic hero, produced by an unnamed or unnamable event, becomes literalized in his homelessness; feared and shunned, he takes to the ocean. Piracy, in other words, is produced by homelessness but is also productive of homelessness: Selim and Conrad, finding themselves without place in the world, displace themselves. This is the importance of the bottom-up hierarchy that interests Linebaugh and Rediker: piracy is a means of taking up homelessness as a freedom—the privilege of being (in theory) beyond any nation’s reach—a reworking of oppressive conditions into a kind of liberation. Selim declares, “My tent on shore, my galley on the sea,/Are more than cities and Serais to me” (II.390–91), and the pirates’ song that opens The Corsair begins: O’er the glad waters of the dark blue sea Our thoughts as boundless, and our souls as free, Far as the breeze can bear, the billows foam, Survey our empire, and behold our home! These are our realms, no limits to their sway …. (I.1–5)

Here the freedom homelessness grants is the authority to claim an empire that is “boundless,” a “home” that extends indefinitely. Freed from the notion of place,


Romantic Border Crossings

territory becomes more about movement, direction, even imagination, than borders or limits. But rather than seize on the idea of the borderless wanderer as the homeless hero of the cosmopolitan, as we might expect Byron to do, his Bride and Corsair assign the pirate a home, and offer him up as participating in a new kind of belonging. With anti-heroes such as Blackbeard and Kidd still in the national memory, deliciously decadent, and genuine inheritors of a revolutionary tradition, Byron puts his pirates firmly on land, not at sea, gives them Muslims instead of booty, and makes them husbands and lovers instead of ex-slaves and criminals. Their sentimental devotion to home, their modest chivalry towards women—in the case of The Corsair, their barely blasé interest in the religion and unnamed nation they risk their lives to protect (the fact, in fact, that they have a nation to protect at all) is a bit disappointing, especially in contrast to the image of the pirate that Byron would have inherited from General History. The opening event of The Corsair is, in fact, the pirate band’s return home, the “welcome shout” and “Friendly speech” of those who remain behind: “And woman’s gentler anxious tone is heard–/ Friends’, husbands’, lovers’ names in each dear word:/ ‘Oh! Are they safe?” (I.103–11). Conrad’s resolve threatens to fail only when “... the windings of his way/ Forced on his eye what he would not survey,/ His lone but lovely dwelling on the steep,/ That hail’d him first when homeward from the deep:”—and not just his house but his beloved, Medora, that “dim and melancholy star,/ Whose ray of beauty reach’d him from afar” (I.508–12). Selim, too, just lines after celebrating the freedom of the sea, begs Zuleika to be the star that guides his wandering. These moments—these homes—are not incidental. We are meant to notice the tension between the freedom (freedom from territory, from nation, from government) on which these pirates depend and the ever-present hope and comfort of home. And finally it is that hope and comfort that betrays Byron’s pirates. Selim’s pirate band is crushed, tellingly, the moment they set foot on land, and Selim himself dies only because he pauses for one last look at his love. Conrad, resolute and unfeeling in all else, disappears without a trace when he finds Medora dead, bringing an end to his illustrious pirate career. What these events seem to offer, at their most explicit, is a diagnosis. Byron’s pirates have freedom, democracy—the ideal to which so many nations have strived and failed—but try to root that stuff, try to establish it on land, and it dies. Selim and his crew are wiped out because they involve themselves in Selim’s domestic affairs: love, and the revenge of a father; Conrad and his pirates enter the battle that kills much of their crew (and, ultimately, if complicatedly, Medora and Conrad) in defense of their land, a pre-emptive attack against the Seyd who plans to seize the Pirates’ Isle. In the midst of a self-fashioned democracy, then, it is finally the notion of territory—and all that territory makes possible—that gets in the way. In this sense, The Bride of Abydos and The Corsair are a critique of the problem of territory that Cheah and Robbins treat in Cosmopolitics, and the problem of governing to which Byron can only unsatisfactorily respond: “no government is any better for a people than another.” If the difficulty is that the way nation-states figure space is necessarily oppressive, the solution is to start anew: get rid of land altogether, and rebuild governments from the people on up. These poems offer and then retract the simplicity of that model; you cannot, it turns out, just take to the

Byron Under the Black Flag


waters, and you cannot just rebuild a republic. “And as for actual pirates,” writes Alison Dwyer, “once caught, [they] were treated as Britons– subject to British law and punishment. Once executed, the pirate was fully reclaimed for the nations’ purposes; their gibbeted bodies served as ghastly reminders of the power of British law” (23). Every attempt to get outside of nation, piracy included, winds up finally implicated in the national, in the territorial. But in his diagnosis, Byron gestures towards a real solution: it is not so much a matter of getting (literally) outside of national territory as it is shifting our understanding of how territory works. This is a shift that might begin with a refiguring of homelessness, as it is offered here: not as a state, a category—the condition of not having a home—but as a process, a movement to itself. If we think of the homeless, like the outlaw, as merely being outside, or without, then the homelessness produced by piracy is just a set-up for more imperialism and colonization. If pirates are simply without a home, or in search of a home, as Byron’s pirates are, then finally they become the merchants and navies against whom they fashioned themselves, drawing new borders, claiming new territory. But if their homelessness is not a condition but a practice, then new possibilities begin to open up—a way of understanding space not as found, owned, colonized, but as produced and reproduced, continually remade by the bodies that pass through it. If we return now to the song that echoes from The Corsair’s Pirate’s Isle, we can see in it, not just its celebration of freedom, but, I hope, the basis for this alternative, this piratical, way of conceiving of space and movement: “O’er the glad waters of the dark blue sea,/ Our thoughts as boundless, and our soul’s as free/ Far as the breeze can bear, the billows foam,/ Survey our empire, and behold our home!” (I.1–4). The empire suggested here, if not finally achieved, is one formed not through acquisition and accumulation but through a cutting up, a cutting across—strong because it is without location, mirrored only in the body that moves: “the pulse’s maddening play,/ That thrills the wanderer of that trackless way” (I.1–4).

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PART II Comparative Border Crossings

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Chapter 4

Crossing Boundaries in Nerval’s Voyage en Orient1 Hugo Azérad University of Cambridge

“L’Orient! L’Orient! Qu’y voyez-vous, poètes?” [The Orient! The Orient! What do you see in it, poets?] Victor Hugo, Les Chants du crépuscule. “La guérison commence par la découverte de l’autre” [Healing starts with the discovery of the other] Shoshana Felman, La Folie et la chose littéraire.

In his book Orientalism, Said gives us some insights into the Romantic pilgrimages to the Orient made by famous French writers, such as Chateaubriand (1811), Lamartine (1835), Gautier (1840), Nerval (1843) and Flaubert (1850). Said tells us that, For these pilgrims, the Orientalized Orient, the Orient of Orientalist scholars, was a gauntlet to be run […] not only does a learned Orient inhibit the pilgrim’s musings and private fantasies, its very antecedence places barriers between the contemporary traveller and his writing, unless, as was the case with Nerval and Flaubert in their use of William Lane, Orientalist work is severed from the library and caught in the aesthetic project (168).

Nerval’s Journey to the Orient of 1843 was published in fragments in various journals before it appeared in its final form in 1851. From the start, Nerval’s trip to Cairo, Lebanon and Istanbul is a negative journey,2 partly because it inverts Chateaubriand’s Ur-trip to Rome, Athens, Jerusalem, and partly because Nerval is trying to escape the “black sun of melancholy” which was hovering over him in Paris during his mental breakdown of 1841: an image which reappears in his sonnet El Desdichado and in the passage of his Journey to the Orient which describes Nerval 1 I want to thank Jocelyne Kolb, Jean Pascal Pouzet, Amanda Power, Beni Issembert and the participants at the panel on Orientalism at the International Conference on Romanticism (ICR) in Laredo, for their helpful comments and suggestions on the paper. 2 Michel Butor, in his article “le voyage et l’écriture”, reminds us that Nerval’s lengthy stay in Cairo, Lebanon and Istanbul, seems to be a “negative” itinerary compared with that of Chateaubriand who went to Rome, Athens and Jerusalem (Romantisme 15). For Butor, Nerval aims for an underground knowledge of the Orient, made of ellipses, caverns, detours, abhorring the surface favored by Chateaubriand. As Butor put it, “Chateaubriand’s trip is a journey into history while Nerval’s trip is a journey into the lies of history” (17).


Romantic Border Crossings

waking up in the Coptic district of Cairo (JO 23). For Said also, Nerval is a rather strange exception: in Orientalism, Nerval’s project is “a work solidly fixed in an imaginative, unrealizable, (except aesthetically) dimension” (170). I would suggest that it is via this exceptional aesthetic door that Nerval crosses the boundaries of the genre of travel writing, and that of Orientalist discourse. This article aims to assess this “aesthetic” dimension of Nerval’s project; how it ties in with concepts of knowledge and of irony developed by German Romanticism; how it could help define Nerval’s modernism. More importantly, I would like to show that Nerval might be seen as the precursor of the utopian side of modernism. His Journey to the Orient is mainly a utopia located across boundaries, across “jeux d’espaces” (Louis Marin) and “narrating ‘je’” [I], an ironic space where knowledge, dreams, and redemption occur. In this textual “entre-deux”, literature is not only the utopia of language, as Barthes suggests (qtd. in Brown, Barthes, 45), but language itself becomes the utopia of literature. The aesthetics of Nerval (and of Flaubert) are for Said an inevitable collusion with Orientalism as well as a form of resistance to it and he sees the structure of their work as an independent, aesthetic, and personal fact, and not the ways by which one could effectively dominate or set down the Orient graphically […]. Their egos never absorbed the Orient, nor totally identified the Orient with textual knowledge of it […] even though they do their own Orientalizing of the Orient (181).

I would agree with the dual aspect of Nerval’s Journey to the Orient: a dependence on Orientalism to a certain extent, and an aesthetic project whose aims are elsewhere and belong instead to a “haunting world of paradox and dream” (181). But this might be a reductive way of looking at Nerval’s aesthetics, and a misunderstanding of the complexity of his work. This complexity stems from the fictional nature of the journey itself, the itinerary being a mixture of real and imaginary trips. There are also many realistic passages describing marriage ceremonies in Cairo, which belong to William Lane’s book Modern Egyptians, and parts of the episode on the caliph Hakem are lifted from Silvestre de Sacy’s work on the religion of the Druzes. Nothing unusual here for a genre of writing which is mainly citational, but Nerval pushes the genre to its limits, by fully adopting the intertextual structure of any journey to the Orient. Overall, Nerval’s Journey to the Orient is a complex interweaving of variegated materials and methods, such as dreams, fantasies, plagiarism, realism, tall tales, folktales, legends, which make it rather unique compared with other journeys to the Orient, but also similar—as an aesthetic project—to all of his other works, from his volume of interlinked short stories Les Filles du feu (1854), to the novella Aurélia (1855), and from the twelve sonnets Les Chimères (1854) to the stories of pre-enlightenment madmen, writers and prophets which form Les Illuminés (1852). Behind all of Nerval’s works and across all of the genres he adopts, I see a coherent aesthetic project, which is almost unparalleled in nineteenth-century French literature. Nerval’s originality can be explained by the fact that his aesthetic project is underpinned by a Romantic conception of knowledge. For Nerval, art is a privileged cognitive tool, an exploratory device that allows knowledge to happen,

Crossing Boundaries in Nerval’s Voyage en Orient


where aesthetics are all about process and openness and not about product and closure. This type of knowledge, developed in Germany in particular, was known to Nerval, who had a good command of German—he translated Faust at twenty and also translated poems by Heine and Schiller among others, and he makes a clear reference to Jean Paul’s sermon of the dead Christ in his sonnets.3 Creative imagination and romantic irony are the cornerstones of German Romantic aesthetics, and these concepts should prove crucial in any interpretation of Nerval. Romantic irony could be defined as the capacity of writing to see itself as the place where object and subject are interchangeable, as well as its capacity to undermine the very notion of originality (each text being already part of the corpus of texts which precede it). Walter Benjamin’s essay on the Concept of Criticism defines one of romantic irony’s aspects as “the expression of pure subjectivism” and he quotes Carl Enders’s own definition “to move oneself immediately from what is represented in the invention to the representing center, and to observe the former from the latter point” (“Concept,” 162–3). Jocelyne Kolb also sees this “mobility” as essential, and she reasserts the links between Schlegel’s romantic irony, romantic poetry and modernism: it is consistent with his [Schlegel’s] image in Athenäum-Fragment 116 of Romantic poetry as a mirror of the world that reflects the age but also reflects back on itself in an endless series of mirrors, ‘hovering on the wings of poetic reflection’ between the work and its creator […] irony is defined as the ‘constant alternation between self-creation and selfdestruction. (12)

This “constant alternation between self-creation and self-destruction” is perhaps the main characteristic of Nerval’s writings, with romantic irony being what makes Nerval’s aesthetic project so intractable, and so radical in its understanding of the Orient, of the self, and of the other. The fact that romantic irony can be linked to a form of creative opposition, however marginalized, makes it the perfect mode of writing for Nerval, a writer who always remains elusive in his works, shifting from obvious narrative intrusions to disappearing acts, where the text effectively becomes a “series of mirrors”. In The Writing of Melancholy, Ross Chambers established a convincing link between parabasis (endless digression)—a term used by Schlegel in his discussion on romantic irony—and Nerval’s rhetorical device “by which the suicidal disappearance of the narrator as a source of interpretive control is secured and the responsibility for interpretation [is] thrown onto the reader” (95). Romantic irony not only “vaporizes ” the writer’s self, it also delocalizes it, turning the narrator’s voice into a nomadic presence, hovering between polyphonic euphoria and total loss of a unified self.4 However, I do not wish to unify artificially Nerval’s work under one banner, but would suggest instead that all of his works partake of an aesthetic project which 3 Nerval’s great talent as a translator/interpreter of German poetry, surpassed only in France by Madame de Staël, becomes apparent in Jean-Yves Masson’s edition of Gérard de Nerval Poèmes d’Outre-Rhin. In Soudain dans l’être obscur, John E. Jackson gives a groundbreaking analysis of Nerval’s use of Jean Paul’s writings. 4 See L’Ironie littéraire, Philippe Hamon (57). On the links between romanticism, modernism and knowledge, see Philip Weinstein, Unknowing, The Work of Modernist Fiction.


Romantic Border Crossings

shatters the boundaries of each genre from within, which questions the boundaries between objective reality and the subjective, making Nerval as much the poet of modernity as his more famous successor, Charles Baudelaire. Indeed, if we take into account Nerval’s use of prose—prose as the idea of poetry—the poet could be seen as a modernist avant la lettre, fascinated by but opposed to modernity (the changing cityscape, the ideology of economic progress, the rise of capitalism and positivist thinking).5 It comes as a surprise to note that Walter Benjamin, the great critic of modernity, devotes only three lines to Nerval. These three lines manage, however, to establish a link between Novalis’s theory of poetry (as “one thing and everything”, and of “the poet as priest”) and Nerval’s “enigmatic sonnet cycle” in which “Novalis would have found his poetic ideal more fully embodied than in almost any other work” (Benjamin, Selected Writings, V, 117). Indeed, very few critics, if any, analyze Nerval’s work, let alone his Journey to the Orient, in the light of his Romantic aesthetic ideas and of what I call his modernism. This leads to misunderstandings similar to those found in Said, or in other brilliant scholarly works (such as those by Jean-Pierre Richard or by Ross Chambers in an early book), which try to define Nerval’s poetics of travel without associating Nerval’s Journey to the Orient with its historical or aesthetic context. Other excellent books, recently published, such as Orientalist Poetics by Emily Haddad and Semiologies of Travel by David Scott, open new ways of approaching Romantic aesthetics of travel. Emily Haddad for instance puts aesthetics at the core of her argument which she summarizes thus: “the integral linkage of the Orient and art in nineteenth-century aesthetics undermines the position of nature and raises the possibility of alternative to mimesis, whether in emulation of Oriental art forms or not” (201) and the French section of her book refers in particular to Theophile Gautier’s doctrine of art for art’s sake, but Nerval, Gautier’s great literary friend and fellow bohème, is absent. It might be due to the elusiveness of Nerval’s aesthetics, which are at variance with Gautier’s theory of art for art’s sake, and are more akin to the German aesthetic tradition of Schlegel, Novalis and Jean Paul, mentioned earlier. If Nerval seems to evade the aesthetic framework Haddad has set up, this is due, in my opinion, to Nerval’s modernist aesthetic. This aesthetic finds its origins in his lucid analysis of post-Enlightenment France, a country that was prone either to a positivist rejection of religion in favor of science, or to a hunger for various forms of mysticism. Moreover, Nerval was at the forefront of what Paul Bénichou called the lost generation of French Romantics (Musset, Vigny, Gautier, Borel, the early Hugo), a generation which became disenchanted with the political paralysis and hypocrisy of the Louis-Philippe monarchy, and with the second Revolution which led to Louis Napoleon’s coup d’état of 1851. The poets’ role in the political life of the country was next to nothing, and Nerval’s utopian dreams of a better society

5 The few analyses of Nerval as a modernist poet have been made by Ross Chambers, Jean-Nicolas Illouz, and by Françoise Sylvos in a brilliant book, Nerval ou l’antimonde. See also Mizuno Hisashi, Nerval: L’Écriture du voyage and Quinze études sur Nerval et le romantisme.

Crossing Boundaries in Nerval’s Voyage en Orient


were shattered. His aesthetic project reflects critically such disenchantment, making his works a mirror of modernity.6 Contrary to Baudedaire, Nerval’s modernism aims to reconcile the rationality of the Enlightenment with the spiritual inheritance of past religions and paganism. Via allegory, Baudelaire exposed the hypocrisy of humanistic bourgeois values and showed a rather critical nostalgia for Christianity. Via symbols and an aesthetic project originating in German Romanticism, Nerval extends the horizon covered by his critical gaze. Beyond Christianity and beyond the episteme of reason exposed by Foucault, Nerval taps into the then uncharted territory of the past writings of alleged madmen, dreamers, visionaries. This uncharted land is obviously symbolized by the Orient, but also by the marginal utopian prophets who abound in history but have been excluded from it. However, Nerval does not take refuge in a mythical imaginary or in stereotypical fantasies of the Orient. Instead, he tries to reconcile the rational with the alleged irrational, by making them interchangeable, by substituting one for the other, by rearranging and reshaping the mental and physical geography of human knowledge. The Orient, Nerval is saying, is within, or to use Kristeva’s words, the other (whether it be the past or another culture) is within ourselves. Nerval’s writings should be reassessed in this light, for here is a French writer who is able to transcend aesthetically, if not personally, the prejudices fostered by nineteenth-century French culture. Nerval does not reject his tradition: he revisits it in the context of its ignored foundations. He is a writer who does not work by excluding, but by including. He positions himself and his writings from the periphery of culture and of reason. One could say that this process of reconciliation by inclusion comes at the cost of self-exclusion from the cultural and literary scene, and there is a literary explanation for this self-exclusion. Contrary to his contemporaries, Nerval had read extensively the German and British Romantics. This is why his aesthetic project crosses national boundaries, despite personal animosities. There are many quips against the British in the Journey to the Orient, a product of his resentment triggered by Napoleon’s defeat and the decline of France which ensued. His aesthetic project also brings to the fore a Romantic conception of knowledge which denies boundaries, offering an alternative to what Coleridge called the “barren dualities” of western ways of thinking. This Romantic conception of knowledge drives a wedge into post-Enlightenment rationality, bringing to the fore areas of thinking which have been effaced, some of these taking their source in the Orient. In her book Representation and its Discontent, Azade Seyhan expounds the Romantic drive for truth and knowledge as follows: [T]he search for artistic tools of representation and exotic icons of expression sends the Romantics on textual voyages to every corner of History. The expeditions to libraries, 6 On Nerval’s political stance, see Paul Bénichou, L’École du désenchantement, (261–76), Kristeva, and Françoise Sylvos. For a recent analysis of Baudelaire’s modernism, see Elissa Marder, Dead Time. Seigel and Gluck have established fascinating links between Parisian bohemia (Nerval), utopia and modernism. For other links between romanticism, modernism and utopia, see Kearney and Ricoeur. Schlegel’s idea of the modern novel, where prose abolishes the notion of genre, is close to Nerval’s own idea of prose in the Journey to the Orient and in his other works: see Illouz and Peter Szondi.


Romantic Border Crossings archives, museums, mausoleums, and ruins underline the Romantic desire to face the crisis of representation by creating a new mythology. This desire is also at the heart of the Romantics’ encyclopedic project, an undertaking of colossal proportions which aimed to unearth, weld together, or reconstruct fragments of what was considered to have been a unified body of human knowledge (15).

This encyclopedic project is a good way of describing Nerval’s Journey to the Orient and there are certainly common elements between Nerval and Novalis for instance: Heinrich von Ofterdingen reveals the same fascination for underground caverns and subterranean mythologies as Nerval’s Journey to the Orient, and encyclopedic libraries feature prominently in their works. Nerval’s story “La bibliothèque de mon oncle” is an echo of the Hohenzollern’s library in Heinrich von Ofterdingen. Azade Seyhan is illuminating on the function of libraries in Romantic aesthetics: “In this library, time is experienced as a continuum. Indeed, in Foucault’s definition the library is the site that collapses temporal difference by rendering all historical epochs co-present” (124). This co-presence of historical epochs, this bringing together of the Viconian ages of mankind, does not solely correspond to a desire to escape nineteenth-century fossilized discourse. In Nerval and Novalis, contrary to Gautier and other Romantic writers, there is no desire to aestheticize the other, to use the Orient in order to renew western disillusioned art forms. As Seyhan points out, what really matters for Novalis is: “the necessity of intersubjective knowledge through an understanding alterity” (79). This leads me to think that Nerval’s aesthetics should be linked to Novalis’ conception of knowledge, as Benjamin had correctly intuited. This is also why Nerval’s Journey to the Orient evades any critical attempt to fix its meaning, its Orientalism, even its poetics. Orientalism pervades the book, but the labyrinthine and multilayered narrative precludes any simple categorization, as indeed Said readily conceded. Nerval’s Romantic conception of knowledge enables him to posit himself as an Orientalist traveller and as its opposite, as the other. His journey crosses the boundaries of its genre and of Orientalism because its narrative is able to cross the boundaries of the self, constantly shifting between passages containing intense personal accounts and anonymous tales, between self-creation, assuming the disguise of an Arab (VO, 150), or of an oriental dandy, with his machlah and his takiès, (VO, 231) and self-destruction (disappearance of the narrator who is superseded by other storytellers). Romantic irony might be one of the means used to overturn the hierarchy between subject and object, and to switch smoothly between types of narrative, from the realistic accounts of everyday life to the legends told anonymously, from the plagiarized passages to the fantasized additions/supplements. All these strands of narratives make Nerval’s book a travel journal as well as a novel. As to Nerval, he puts himself “en abyme” within the fabric of the text, playing at being himself, the other, and most uncannily, his double (as caliph Hakem’s ferrouer, Youssouf, and as Cain’s descendant, Adoniram). Nerval as narrator, narrator as character, all these narrative voices aim at effacing Nerval himself from the text. It is this last point, perhaps the most important aspect of Nerval’s modernist aesthetics, that I would like to address: who is really writing the Journey to the Orient? Who, if anyone, takes control of the narrative in this modernist novel written

Crossing Boundaries in Nerval’s Voyage en Orient


long before Proust and Joyce? Or, as Michel Jeanneret asks: what is the status of the referent? Lived or read? Immediate or textual? (Scott 97). To these questions, I would add: what is the status of the “I”/eye? In his Semiologies of Travel, David Scott offers some possible explanations. According to him, “in the secular world of the post-Enlightenment, art becomes a substitute for religion, artists, in particular painters, restore or re-motivate the link between signs and objects, or rather, they arrange signs in such a way that their symbolic potential is maximized” (33). Scott finds in Romantic artists “a nostalgia for an integral, analogical world, in which reality seems to become once again fully or vividly re-attached to significance, or significance re-attached to reality, in which the object coincides fully with its own aesthetic significance” (35). To Scott, “Nerval exemplifies perfectly the predicament of the Romantic writer striving to relate the analogical to the symbolic and to adapt reality or experience to the demands of imagination” (96). He sees this predicament as a symbolic slippage, a sign of Nerval’s madness. If Scott were right in his description of the symptoms, I would disagree with his prognosis. This symbolic slippage would explain away the mixture of genres found in Nerval’s Journey to the Orient. I am not sure that Scott’s conclusion is not another way of wrongly categorizing Nerval, particularly when he refers to Nerval’s madness by saying that “like Van Gogh, Nerval’s madness, fatal in both its nature and its outcome, is as described by Foucault, partly a result of mistaking or substituting the real for the imaginary, or of conflating the analogical and the symbolic” (99). But to ascribe Nerval’s original aesthetic project to some sort of heuristic madness seems reductive. What passes for madness in Nerval is what we saw earlier as the sign of his modernism, particularly as regards the status of the narrating “I”. This modernism, which is linked to the Romantic conception of knowledge found in Novalis, implies what Jeanneret called “an unhinging of certitudes”, and what I call a disanchoring of the text from the author or from the I [narrator]. The text thus becomes a place where dialogue happens. Nerval’s Journey to the Orient offers the possibility of such a linguistic encounter, where in Gadamer’s words: “Art is cognition and the experience of the work of art grants this cognition” (Gadamer 97). This disanchoring effect is created through the use of romantic irony, whose function is to bring about a multilayered narrative where the self has given up its domineering position. In Kathleen Wheeler’s words, romantic irony: “breaks through the conventional boundaries of the work of art and establishes a world as textual where language is pre-eminently metaphorical, and the character of experience is rhetorical” (29). The narrating “I” of the Journey to the Orient constantly shifts from one position to another, from subject to object, becoming a rhetorical trope. Stylistically, the “I”, whether it be Nerval, the narrator, or a character, is akin to the trope called metalepsis, defined as “the metonymical substitution of one word for another which is itself figurative” (OED). In the Journey to the Orient, in the passage called “Un lever de soleil” (VO 194) [Sunrise] for instance, metalepsis appears as the embedding of different locutors (Lecercle 34) thereby rupturing a homogeneous narrative. This shifting “I”, invented, vaporized, masked, witnessing, is always “hovering on the wings of poetic reflection”. In this passage, the narrator is hovering between pre-


Romantic Border Crossings

Baudelairean spleen and Orientalist rapture, on the cusp of dream and reality, fantasy and reason: Life is strange indeed and wonderful! Every morning, during those uncertain moments when reason gradually triumphs over the frenzy of the dream world, I expect nothing more natural, nothing more logical and in keeping with my Parisian background, than waking up to the feeble light of a grey and cheerless sky. My ears listen for the noise of wheels pounding the road, while my eyes prepare to focus on the dismal view of a hotel room, crammed with such knobby furniture that my imagination, like an imprisoned fly, will collide against one window after the other. Consider, then, for an instant, my increasing delight and astonishment as I discover myself a thousand leagues away from my homeland and let my sense slowly absorb the confused impressions of a world which is the perfect antithesis of ours. (JO 23)

Such passages can be found in Orientalists’ accounts of sunrise in the Orient, but here, the “I” is almost impersonal, delocalized, caught between the prison of “reason”, “logic” and the sensual world of dreams come true. This “I” is located in an “entre–deux”, between a western incarnation of spleen and an oriental persona. The verb “retrouver” [re-discover] contains the paradox of otherness as newly found homeland, as “anti-monde”, the utopian and derealized side of the west. The narrator, perched outside time and space, in a liminal state, constantly shifts from one world to another, thus inhabiting the utopian space described by Françoise Sylvos: “In Nerval, utopia resides less in a place than the reestablishing of exchanges between spaces […] for Nerval, any form of separation/boundary [étanchéité] is a form of death; among the talismans which protect mankind, literature is a vital link—a source of life” (147–8). We know of Nerval’s efforts to unite different forms of knowledge, past and present, influenced by the great utopian writers such as Fourier and Leroux, and all of his writings qualify as attempts at reconciliation, not rupture. The Orient is mainly seen as a privileged cultural crossroads, but it is also always threatened by misunderstanding and by alterity. As a Nervalian utopia, the Orient is also a negative space, when it is no longer perceived as a redemptive space. The “I” is unable to escape from itself: Imagine, then, my amazement and my rapture! But occasionally I’m saddened, it depends upon the day; I don’t wish to assert that an eternal summer implies a life that is never anything but joy. The black sun of melancholy, which sheds its gloomy rays over the countenance of Albert Dürer’s pensive angel, rises too, at times, over the luminous plains of the Nile, as it does over the banks of the Rhine and the chilly countryside of Germany. Although there is no mist and fog, the dust can settle, I’m bound to confess, like a mournful veil, over the brightness of a day in the Orient. (23)

The “fog and mist”, turned “mournful veil”, is indicative of the “vaporized self” identified by Ross Chambers in Nerval and Baudelaire. This “vaporization” of the self is yet another example of romantic irony, the sign, according to Philippe Hamon, of modern lyricism. The voice is no longer localized, either on the euphoric mode “my rapture!” or on the anguished mode of loss of identity incurred by the “vaporization” of the self: “slate-coloured shroud; turbid dust; profound melancholia transmitted

Crossing Boundaries in Nerval’s Voyage en Orient


to us through the extant monuments”(JO 24). Nerval as narrator oscillates between Charon, the “passeur” [transmitter/translator] of cultures across linguistic barriers, “j’ai deux fois vainqueur traversé l’Achéron”, and Orpheus, the lyrical “passeur” of words between dreams and reality, between poetry and prose: “modulant tour à tour sur la lyre d’Orphée” (El Desdichado in Les Chimères). Romantic irony could be the last refuge of lyricism in times of modernity, where: “the I survives only as this permutation, this infinite substitution of citations on Orpheus’ lyre” (Felman 85).7 Nerval’s modernism could be encapsulated in one phrase, that he wrote on the back of a photograph of himself: “je suis l’autre” [I am the other]. It is so close to Rimbaud’s own “je est un autre” [I is another] proffered thirty years later in his Lettre du voyant, but Nerval does not abolish the self or “deregulate” it as in Rimbaud where the copula “est” [is] violently distances the I from itself, positing the “I” in terms of an altogether different other. Instead, Nerval posits the “I”, the copula, and the other, in terms of perfect equivalence. It does not mean that the utterer of “I am the other” cannot be interpreted as “the deregulated player in the game of the same and other” in Foucault’s words, with the poet not defined as mad but as “a representation of a deviance maintained by society, as the man of unconventional resemblances, or he who is alienated in analogy” (81). Indeed, Nerval does correspond to Foucault’s definition of the poet as jester, as “l’homme des resemblances sauvages” [the man of wild ressemblances]. But where Rimbaud and Foucault see the “I” in terms of deregulation, Nerval sees it in terms of “conjugation”, of bringing distant terms together, that is, in terms of metaphor. “Je est un autre/je suis l’autre”—all poetry and its claims for knowledge could reside in this simple difference of conjugation, with the status of the other being determined by a definite or indefinite article. “Un autre” [another] remains safely indeterminate, the “I” can be anything, it is free, while the other remains anonymous, under the possible tyranny of the “I”. In “l’autre” [the other], however, the other remains close to the “I”, and it is identified as the “I”, to which it is equivalent, not subservient. Nerval’s sentence allows room for freedom, but only because the “I” gives itself over to the other, “se livre à l’autre”, or reads itself in the other. The “I” is or dreams itself as unfixed, crossing external and internal boundaries. Extending what Felman says of Artémis, another poem from Les Chimères, Nerval’s writings are like a “poem on the verb to be, on the ‘supplément de copule’ (Derrida) and its ontological value: the poem would be the putting into action of language, in its aptitude to define, to reach truth” (Felman 89). In the Journey to the Orient and in all of Nerval’s works, the protean “I” which speaks, narrates, confides, mocks, dreams, is what the great German poet Ingeborg Bachmann called “un je sans garantie” (62), “an unwarranted I” which she discerned in modernism. Knowledge, for Nerval, for the Romantics and for their modernist inheritors, might only happen at the cost of this self-sacrificial warrant. As Nerval writes: “the man who relinquishes all can receive all” (VO, 667), having in mind the 7 Inspired by Adorno, Susan Stewart’s analysis of lyricism is particularly helpful, see her Poetry and the Fate of the Senses. In the recent Clartés d’Orient, co-edited by Illouz, Michel Jeanneret, Dolf Oehler and Gérard Dessons provide further analyses of the Orient as “floating signifier for the ‘je’” (Illouz 16), as “utopian woman (Saint-Simon, Heine)” (137150) and as “poetic alterity” (151-169).


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dervishes’ monasteries which, alongside Adoniram’s association of workers, form realized communist utopias that could be said to serve as a template for the brief utopian episode of the Paris Commune, a few years after Nerval’s death. The Journey to the Orient can be summarized as a “dream of synthesis and communication” (Sylvos 137), a poetic project establishing the utopian rules which will prevail in modernist works to come. Romantic irony, metalepsis, parabasis, negativity, synthesis, prose as the idea of poetry—these are some of the rhetorical tools, materials, and concepts that Nerval appropriated from literary history, from German Romanticism and from the Orient, but only to reinsert them into the utopia of literature, language. In transit, the Nervalian “I” is forced to live in spaces of “homelessness” (Lukács): hotel rooms, cafés, rented houses, prisons, and mental clinics. Textual spaces are the utopian place of communication and synthesis, liminal and marginal, where the “I”, self-created and self-destroyed, seems only able to survive.8 Refuge, but also vantage point from which “his rejection of society, inspired by the spectacle of the world, is also a positive principle, partaking of faith in communication and in poetic memory” (Sylvos 207). If Nerval has exerted an influence on Benjamin, Foucault, Felman, Derrida, Kofman, Deleuze, Kristeva, he has remained on the margins of literary theory. However, his position as precursor of modernism, across boundaries normally ascribed to this movement, should be reassessed. The utopian space of Nerval’s work is the place of exchange, “reminding us of the value of Signs, however anodine they seem” (Sylvos 207).

8 See the end of Nerval’s Journey to the Orient, when he recalls a Turkish legend: four men from four different nationalities are traveling together. They decide to buy something to eat with the few cents they have. They all name what they want to eat: “uzum,” says the Turk, “ineb” says the Arab, “inghûr” says the Persian, and “stafilion” says the Greek. Starving and unable to agree, they are on the verge of fighting until a dervish—well-versed in the four languages—intervenes and beckons a man selling grapes, the very thing they all wanted to eat (VO 790). On utopian language, see Ingeborg Bachmann’s comments on “Literature: a Utopia” in her Leçons de Francfort: “Literature is less closed than sciences, where all new knowledge makes the former knowledge obsolete: it is not closed for all of its past pushes forward to enter the present […] however close it is to its times and its mediocre language, one must celebrate its desperate search for this utopian language. Only then, it is glorious and carries hope for all men” (127, 140). Nerval had his modernist successors in Proust, Char, Bachmann, and Bonnefoy.

Chapter 5

Transgressions of Gender and Generation in the Families of Goethe’s Meister Ingrid Broszeit-Rieger Oakland University

From his early dramas to his late novels, Goethe’s oeuvre creates an array of extraordinary family scenarios, such as the idea of a triangular marriage in Stella and the manifestation of emotional and spiritual adultery in the features of a child in Elective Affinities. These examples alone illustrate Goethe’s fascination with family as topic and experimental concept. Gail Hart even detects a consistently rebellious attitude toward the notion of the bourgeois family in Goethe’s dramas: “Goethe’s writing […] has emerged as a sustained resistance to portrayal of conventional families. Goethe’s work is famous for its ‘fractured families’” (70). Above all, the Wilhelm Meister novels contain sequences of different family constructs that carry a critique of the impact of family on the individual as a major subtext throughout their plots. The crucial importance of family dynamics in the so-called archetypal Bildungsroman Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship, however, becomes most evident in retrospect, starting with Wilhelm’s childhood memories as an adolescent. Even though young Wilhelm leaves his family early in the novel in order to pursue a career as an actor and theater director, roles and relationships within his family greatly influence Wilhelm’s self-perception and life choices during his journey. The familial impact on Wilhelm’s individuation has been recognized by scholars, such as Eissler in his ground-breaking psychoanalytical study, followed by Kittler’s socio-historically and psychoanalytically inspired work, Bernhard Greiner’s psychoanalytical interpretation of the theater in the hero’s process of individuation, and lately Heidi Schlipphacke’s deconstructive view on the Meister family, to mention only a few. I hope to put a new spin on the discussion by proposing that Goethe’s Meister stages family in conflict between three different family types, and furthermore, that mothering and fathering appear separable from individual characters. In fact, the shifting family configurations in the novel blur the roles of mother and father established by the nuclear family. Thus, mothering and fathering become “dis-gendered” parenting functions.1 Crossovers between family types, and transgressions of gender and 1 Gail Hart’s Tragedy in Paradise is a study about bürgerliches Trauerspiel, including Goethe’s dramas. While Hart focuses on women figures and their “removal, the process of effecting their absence, and the centrality of that process to the genre we identify as bürgerliches Trauerspiel,” (IX) she draws general conclusions about the representation of


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generation, function in this novel as means of mediation between individual and society/individuation and socialization by channeling socially unacceptable sexual and other desires of the self into socially beneficial nurturing of others and the self. I borrow for my analysis of family structures Lawrence Stone’s definition of family types in his The Family, Sex and Marriage. Even though Stone bases his study on English society, he emphasizes that the same developments “were common to the whole of Western culture” (226).2 Stone distinguishes between the open lineage family of kin at large, the restricted patriarchal nuclear family, “consisting of two or more generations of married couples linked in father and son chains”, who lived permanently under one roof, and the closed domesticated nuclear family “of parents and unmarried children” (23), later abbreviated as nuclear family. In the open lineage family of around 1500, neither individual autonomy nor privacy were respected as desirable ideals. It was generally agreed that the interests of the group […] took priority over the wishes of the individual […] The expectation of life was so low that it was highly imprudent to become too emotionally dependent upon any other human being [...]. As a result, relations […] between husband and wife and parents and children, were not much closer than those with neighbours” (4–5).

This family type was based on “economic necessity” and existed “for partnership and division of labour” (5). Without close personal bonds, intimacy, and “welldefined boundaries” (7), there were also no clearly assigned familial roles. The restricted patriarchal nuclear family, or short extended family, “began in about 1530, predominated from about 1580 to 1640, and ran on to at least 1700” (Stone 7). In this family type, “‘Boundary awareness’ became more exclusively confined to the nuclear family, which consequently became more closed off from external influences […]. The power of the husband and father over the wife and the children was positively strengthened, making him a legalized petty tyrant within the home” (Stone 7). Servants were considered part of the family and “were equated with children as subordinate members of the household” (Stone 21). The patriarch expected to be loved and respected for his fatherly care for everybody under his roof and feared for his authority and right to punish offenders against his rule.3 In the closed domesticated nuclear family of parents and children, the close bond and affection between its members created the eroticized relationships explored in psychoanalysis. Affection

gender issues in Goethe’s writings by arguing that this particular genre is “an enactment of a threat to stability, to bourgeois or domestic order, that is organized so as to defeat and relieve the anxieties of a middle-class audience, which is, like most literary audiences, gendered male.” (X) Hart summarizes, “one of the more curious commonplaces of eighteenth-century German domestic drama is the absence or disappearance of the mother/wife figure. Though one might expect sentimental plays that deal with the private realm of the family to feature mothers more prominently […]” (1) 2 Bengt Sørensen uses Stone’s findings in his article “Über die Familie in Goethe’s Werther und ‘Wilhelm Meister’” in Orbis Litterarum, 1987, to situate familial roles and conflicts within the struggle between nature and society. 3 See Stone, 27.

Transgressions of Gender and Generation in the Families of Goethe’s Meister


also led to “greater freedom for children and rather more equal partnership between spouses” (Stone 221) in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. In Goethe’s Meister, however, all family constellations contain transgressions and obscurities of identity as well as dissolutions of boundaries between conventional roles and family types. Following the developmental history of the Meister text, Gerhard Kittler already recognized that a shift from the extended to the nuclear family occurs in Goethe’s revision from the Theatrical Mission (1777/85), a “draft” of the Apprenticeship, to its mature version of the Meister novel. Kittler points out that in the Mission, Wilhelm receives the gift of the puppet theater from his paternal grandmother who seems to be part of a larger, disorganized household, whereas in the Apprenticeship, his own mother is the giver.4 Furthermore, the emotionally detached mother in the Mission who brings discord into her family with her extramarital affair, turns in the Apprenticeship into a devout wife and mother of the nuclear family. In the Apprenticeship Wilhelm grows up in a bourgeois nuclear family with clearly defined gender roles. While the father focuses on his business to provide handsomely for his family, the mother runs the household and rears their children. Against his father’s expectations to enter the business world, Wilhelm, however, follows his maternally sparked passion for the theater and joins a traveling troupe of performers. The novel displays the conflict between the mother and father’s interests and values primarily in accordance with the dynamics of the closed domesticated nuclear family and along with it of the compassionate marriage.5 Wilhelm expresses “a strong sense of individual autonomy and the right to personal freedom in the pursuit of happiness” (Stone 7) typical for the child of the modern nuclear family, when greeted by his concerned mother after yet another night of pleasures at the theater despite his father’s disapproval. The mother takes on the role of the mediator as typical for the wife in the nuclear family, after Stone.6 Mother Meister’s internal conflict between affection for and understanding of her son and the wifely role as her husband’s ally and support becomes evident in her concern to keep the “domestic peace” (2).7 She relates to Wilhelm his father’s anger about the son’s “wild addiction” (2) to the theater and his authoritarian threat to “forbid those regular visits” (2) because he considers them a waste of time. The mother asks Wilhelm not to “overdo it” (3) for her own sake lamenting: “How often have I been reproached for giving you that wretched puppet theater for Christmas twelve years ago. It gave you that taste for the theater” (3). Calling the puppet theater “wretched” indicates a temporary breakdown of the mother’s identity because she expresses the father’s feelings about the theater and thus merges with him in a submissive and self-annihilating way. Wilhelm’s following appeal addresses this transgression:

4 See Kittler, 16–17. 5 See Stone, 7–8. 6 See Stone, 397. 7 Misogynist implications of the Meister novels have been explored by scholars such as Jill Anne Kowalik, Susanne Zantrop and Barbara Becker-Cantarino. In his article “Healthy Families: Medicine, Patriarchy, and Heterosexuality in Eighteenth-Century German Novels,” Robert Tobin summarizes the tendency of the genre Bildungsroman “that […] particularly women, suffer at the hands of the novel’s familial structures” (242–3).


Romantic Border Crossings

“Don’t blame the puppet theater, don’t regret that token of your love and care for me. Those were my first happy moments in the new and empty house” (3) that the father bought for selfish reasons, namely to establish his own public identity set off from his deceased father’s, whose house he sold to buy the new one. Wilhelm, obviously, tries to influence his mother to side with him by emphasizing his appreciation for her nurturance and at the same time implying his father’s emotional negligence, thus appealing to her as the better parent. In contrast to the well-meaning but ambiguously acting father, the mother appears coherently as the affectionate, attentive, and permissive parent of the nuclear family. For example, in one of her memories of Wilhelm’s child-play she clearly focuses on her son’s experience rather than her own as evident in the wording: I remember how you sneaked the text [the script for the puppet theater] away from me and then learned the whole play by heart. I noticed that one evening, when you made a David and Goliath out of wax, let them talk to each other, gave the giant a whack, stuck his shapeless head onto a big pin and put it in little David’s hand (4).

Thereafter, the mother’s perspective oscillates between identification with her child by sharing in his joy and agony caused by the husband’s criticism of her child-friendly parenting, when she continues: “Your mother was so delighted at your good memory and the fine speeches, that she decided to give you the whole company of wooden puppets on the spot. Little did I know what trouble that would give me” (4). Interestingly, Wilhelm merges with the narrator when he recalls that “no one paid attention except my father who sometimes noticed one of my exclamations [Wilhelm’s perspective] and secretly praised the good memory of his [narrator’s perspective] son” (8). This discrepancy between Wilhelm’s/the narrator’s and the mother’s memory might be explained with the mother’s identification with the father, because when the mother claims the father’s experience of witnessing their son’s declamation as her own she seems momentarily unable to distinguish her perspective from her husband’s. Another example of the temporary dissolution of boundaries between family members occurs in Wilhelm’s childhood memory, in which he recalls details of his first experience of the puppet theater. Aside from the wonder and excitement, he emphasizes the order and discipline of the performance. His description does not determine whether father or mother planned the surprise, in fact, to the child the two seem merged into the undistinguishable parental activity of organizing this “unexpected festive event” (3). It is remarkable how Wilhelm linguistically mirrors in his childhood memory his mother’s emotional merging of the two parents into one unified expression about Wilhelm’s attachment to the theater. Therefore, this entire dialogue confirms the affective bond between mother and son. In his mind, Wilhelm clearly attributes the early development of his creative imagination to his mother’s provision of sensual pleasures: “Those piles of wonderful things filled my imagination with a sense of abundance, and the marvelous smell of all the spices had such a mouthwatering effect on me that I never failed to breathe in deeply when I was nearby [the pantry]” (7–8). Furthermore, Wilhelm recognizes that his mother also provided him with the necessary freedom and privacy for creative exploration and discovery of his individual strengths: “I spent all my free time in my

Transgressions of Gender and Generation in the Families of Goethe’s Meister


room playing with the puppets […] I played alone, my imagination brooding over that little world, which soon began to take on a different shape” (9). The privilege of privacy and material resources gives Wilhelm an advantage over his playmates and his acquired skills bolster his self-confidence: I was huntsman, footsoldier, cavalryman, as our games demanded; but I always had a slight edge over the others, because I could provide the necessary properties for these occasions: the swords were mostly from my workshop, it was I who decorated and gilded the sleds, and some curious instinct made me transform our whole militia into Romans. (emphasis added, 11)

As Stone points out, play without moral instruction or a set pedagogical goal emerged as a new practice in the modern nuclear family. Naturally, the bourgeois mother in her homebound existence became the main caretaker/educator in the child’s early years, thus laying the foundation for the process of individuation. An essential part of this new pedagogy was the provision of toys for enjoyment, such as the puppet theater in Wilhelm’s case.8 In this context, the fact that the mother rather than the paternal grandmother gives the puppet theater to her son has particular significance, because the mother’s gift characterizes her as a representative of modern childcentered pedagogy. As such, Wilhelm consistently recognizes his mother for her child-rearing qualities by depicting her throughout the novel as a kind and forgiving parent, provider of comfort, grantor of freedom of play and self-exploration, and nurturer of self-confidence and pride; in Stone’s theory as the affectionate, attentive, and “permissive mother” of the progressive nuclear family. The father, on the other hand, represents the restrictive patriarchal conservative form of the nuclear family. Even though he has “a high opinion of his son’s ability” (21), he fails to express it. His fatherly interaction is limited to the role of disciplinarian and (moral) critic, especially concerning the permission or nonpermission of the puppet theater, when “he insisted that if a pleasure was to have any value, it must be infrequent” (6). Aside from the father’s restrictive effect, he also causes his son emotional pain through an over-critical attitude. During Wilhelm’s second performance of his own puppet show Wilhelm is “deeply hurt” (9) by his father’s focus on his mishap of dropping a puppet, his “concentrating on the mistakes” (9). Otherwise, Wilhelm realized that “I [he] had done well” (9). This confidence results from his mother’s affirmative praise of the strong points of his performance: “especially the straightforward way in which I [he] had summoned Goliath to battle and later presented the modest victor to the King” (9). Therefore, Wilhelm’s affirmation of self-worth becomes linked to mothering, expressed in her praise. As a young adult, both parents’ attitudes are reflected in Wilhelm’s assessment of his childhood play, the self-exploratory creative exploratory activities 8 “Educational games that combined instruction with fun were also introduced in the mid-eighteenth century […] This was the time when toy-shops were springing up in provincial towns, and were doing a brisk trade selling toys that were designed merely to give pleasure to the individual child, not to gratify its parents’ desire for moral or educational improvement. It was now that dolls with changeable clothing and dolls’ houses were first mass produced for a commercial market.” (Stone 411)


Romantic Border Crossings

of “inventing and imagining” fostered by the mother and the father’s judgmental criticism of his lack of productivity, when he evaluates the outcome of his play as destructive: “My greatest pleasure was in inventing and imagining. […] I was entirely living in my imagination, trying out this or that, always planning, building a thousand castles in the air, but not realizing that I had destroyed the very foundations of this small world.” (10). Self-criticism stands in stark contrast with joy of playing and reinventing new worlds, as well as a sense of control gained from his aerial perspective when he “seemed suspended above this miniature world” (9). Wilhelm’s internal conflict is exacerbated, when the father in patriarchal fashion decides on his son’s profession by consulting with a male friend instead of his wife. Deprived of his choice, Wilhelm’s “whole being rebelled violently against what he could only consider a base occupation” (15). His father’s decision contradicts the freedom of play and eagerness to seek happiness and contentment promoted by his mother’s guidance and signifies a rupture of self at the transition from child to man. Nevertheless, the father’s wish for Wilhelm to continue the family business is in line with the historical fact that “most levels of upper-, middle- and lower-middleclass society parents continued to determine the career choices of their children. This was the last area of parental control to go” (Stone 447) in the modern nuclear family. Wilhelm’s mother, however, is only included in her son’s travel preparations. Even though, the father does not seem to control his wife’s life, the lack of his contribution to a compassionate marriage due to his reactionary stance on family seems to cause discord in their son’s upbringing and internal conflict in Wilhelm’s adolescent psyche. The narrator guides the reader to favor modern mothering over old-fashioned fathering by showing the father’s inconsistency in decision-making when it comes to his amicable response to male friends outside the family versus harshness and lack of compromise toward family members. When Wilhelm pleads that his “only wish … was to see a second performance [of the puppet theater]” (6) he approaches his mother as mediator. “When the moment seemed right, she tried to persuade my [his] father; but all her efforts were fruitless” (6). The father’s non-compassionate response “shows” the inequality between the parents and parental indifference to the emotional need of children typical of the patriarchal pre-form of the modern nuclear family. Latent criticism of the father’s attitude emerges in Wilhelm’s observation: “It was not hard for him [the father’s friend, the lieutenant] to persuade my father, who gladly granted to a friend the favor he as a matter of principle had refused his own children” (6–7). The parental conflict results from the fact that their beliefs and behaviors follow incompatible family types. The father’s authoritarian stance is based on the intent to maintain the traditional patriarchal order, whereas the progressive mother with her compassionate, communicative attitude strives to foster individual development in her children by providing a happy childhood for them. Wilhelm tries to resolve this conflict by physically leaving his family drama behind. When Wilhelm joins a group of traveling performers, he creates a patchwork family9 for himself that combines aspects of the three family types Stone 9 The narrator of the Mission refers to Wilhelm, Mignon and their companions as a ‘wunderbare Familie,’ in the eighteenth century meaning “awkward family,” compare Sørensen, (130–31).

Transgressions of Gender and Generation in the Families of Goethe’s Meister


distinguishes; the open lineage family, the restricted patriarchal nuclear family, and the closed domesticated nuclear family. The coincidental nature in which this patchwork family comes together for the fulfillment of needs and the pursuit of economic success reminds of the impersonal relationships within the open lineage family. Its characteristic lack of close bonds is evident in the quickly changing amours and love triangles of the actors. For example, when Wilhelm first meets the flirtatious and flighty Philine, even seemingly intimate exchanges of gifts and affection appear in non-personal contexts in which suitors are easily replaceable. The powder knife Philine gives to Wilhelm in a seductive moment with the words, “Keep that in remembrance of me” (52), has “Remember me” engraved on its handle. The circumstances of this situation indicate that Philine offers to Wilhelm a token she had received from a previous admirer. During a romantic picnic with Wilhelm and his fencing partner Laertes, Philine receives flowers from both men, makes each a wreath and after kissing Laertes first, she “turned immediately to put her arm around Wilhelm and plant a passionate kiss on his lips” (56). Even though Laertes calls their seductress “the real Eve, the progenitrix of the whole female race,” (55) Philine, as sexual aggressor with “roguish” (76) ways mimics masculine behavior while forcing her male counterparts into the passive, receptive role of the conventional female. Furthermore, in her rebellion against convention, Philine shows an aversion towards motherhood throughout the novel and never provides any significant nurturance to the orphans in her environment. The conditions of the open lineage family arrangement among the actors not only allows for emotional detachment from children and superficial, temporary attachment to sexual partners, but also for fluctuation in the distribution of basic responsibilities, such as providing food, shelter, income and safety. The extreme flexibility in familial roles and exchangeability of one person for another depends on individual talents and availability. Tasks concerning the theater and domestic life are divided as needed for the common success and survival of the group. For example, Mignon, the abused child-acrobat Wilhelm symbolically adopts when he joins the performers, temporarily fulfills the roles of Wilhelm’s daughter, servant, imaginary lover, and substitute mother for his son Felix. Accordingly, Wilhelm’s roles in regards to Mignon also blur and shift between extremes as his emotions about adopting Mignon indicate. Even though he externally assumes the position of her father, Wilhelm internally experiences his adoption in terms of motherhood, as a sensation of taking the child into his body and nurturing her. The English translation, however, displaces the locus of nurturance from the internal to the external body, from the abdominal cavity [Leib, as indicated with the verb einverleiben] to the chest, thus assimilating the distinctly maternal image of carrying the child within the body to a paternal one by wanting “to take this abandoned creature to his bosom as his own child, caress her and by a father’s love awaken to her the joys of life” (65). Wilhelm’s blurred emotional gender identity mirrors Mignon’s androgynous qualities. She dresses in boy’s clothes and denies her femininity to preserve the freedom to climb trees and mountains, an activity she


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would have to give up, if she wore the typical confining dresses of the time.10 Since Wilhelm keeps his maternal feelings to himself, Mignon’s emotional rather than legal adoption appears to the public as a business transaction because “the child was transferred [from her abuser] to Wilhelm’s keeping for the sum of thirty thalers” (58). This discrepancy between inner and outer reality causes Mignon’s ambiguous status as daughter and servant. When Laertes points out, “we have bought you” (59), Mignon readily responds with, “I’ll be your servant” (59). Thereafter, Laertes and Philine request services from Mignon, whereas Wilhelm accepts service from her in the spirit of gratitude or as a labor of love. In return, Wilhelm, like the compassionate mother, gives Mignon comfort, affection, and attention, putting her needs first, when appropriate. In one instance, he swallows his pride and accepts a gift of food from Philine, whose advances he has come to despise, so that Mignon does not go hungry: “He was just about to return the gift when he caught an imploring expression on Mignon’s face; so sent back his thanks on Mignon’s behalf, but for himself firmly declined the invitation” (92). He often comforts and reassures the previously abused child holding her “with Mignon clutching him” (93) or sitting “with Mignon’s head on his knees” (92). This physical nurturance typical of the closeness between mother and child in the nuclear family allows Wilhelm to feel “the most perfect, indescribable bliss” (82) of the mother-child identification. Along with favors for Wilhelm, such as bringing him meals or straightening up his room, Mignon also expresses her devotion to him with increasingly passionate words, kisses, and embraces, “whenever she came or went” (156). Thus, their fatherdaughter relationship takes on nuances of passionate outbursts between lovers, when, for example, “the girl, whose passionate embraces he usually warded off, was delighted by this unexpected outburst of affection [by Wilhelm], and clung so close to him that he had difficulty in loosening her hold” (114). Nonetheless, Mignon succeeds in symbolically assuming the position of Wilhelm’s lost lover and mother of his son Felix, Mariane, by prompting Wilhelm to give her Mariane’s scarf and necklace.11 At the same time she demands that Wilhelm dress her in the same colors he wears, thus merging Wilhelm, Mariane, and herself as lovers and parents in her wardrobe. After Mignon’s unsuccessful attempt of spending the night with Wilhelm, she withdraws in the fashion of the rejected lover and replaces her pursuit of Wilhelm with the care for Wilhelm’s son Felix, for whom she fulfills the roles of the comforting mother and the protective father, when she rescues the boy from a house fire in book 5, chapter 16. While Mignon takes care of Felix, Wilhelm acts in the role of the housefather of the restricted patriarchal nuclear family by instructing the actors in fighting the fire and “promising to remain with them” (200). Before this rescue operation, he gradually assumes this patriarchal role, initially when he becomes the group’s benefactor by first paying their debts to “the innkeeper” (71) and then by taking charge of the group as “their first director” (127) with the authority to make decisions on their behalf. In spite of his financial and intellectual power over the troupe, he also shows the compassion of the father of the closed 10 For an in-depth discussion of androgyny see Catriona MacLeod’s article listed in works cited. 11 See Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship, (215).

Transgressions of Gender and Generation in the Families of Goethe’s Meister


domesticated nuclear family towards the group in times of distress and commits to the responsibility of being their provider, claiming, “I know what you all need, and I will do my best to help you” (138). Even though the actors are ungrateful for his attempts to stabilize their lives, Wilhelm still benefits from family scenarios in which he assumes a variety of functions because this experience prepares him to decide how he wants to define his familial role as an adult. His father’s sudden death, however, forces Wilhelm to reconfigure his position within his original family. This process requires a gradual dissolution of the bonds with his experimental patchwork family of choice that enabled him to partially detach from the conflicts of his original family over rigid role expectations until a letter arrives from Werner, his childhood friend. In the meantime, Werner has assumed Wilhelm’s responsibilities and privileges of Wilhelm’s father’s heir on grounds of his engagement to Wilhelm’s sister. The brother-in-law to be prematurely acts as executor of the family’s estate and as new head of the family, trying to keep Wilhelm out of the picture for a while: “We shall not need you for the first six months, so you can now look around in the world” (173). Furthermore, Werner creates an alternative familial role for Wilhelm as his marginal “brother” (173) who is to supervise a distant family estate. Werner justifies his directives by portraying himself in unison with Wilhelm’s father’s and the entire family’s opinion, when he elaborates: “What gave your father and myself most pleasure were your profound insights into the management and, above all, improvement of agricultural estates. We hope to purchase a big estate […] We are reckoning on your going there to supervise the improvements” (173). Wilhelm resists Werner’s patriarchal move and outlines for himself an alternative strategy for graduating from the son’s position to the father’s. By claiming the right to a different path for himself, Wilhelm counteracts Werner’s presumptuous transgression into his family’s affairs, which include Werner’s profound criticism of Wilhelm’s father’s, as well as his grandfather’s, spending habits and husbandry. Wilhelm challenges Werner’s prescriptive and restrictive bourgeois “credo: conduct your business, acquire money” (172) with his notion of personal development as a man of the theater. When Wilhelm signs his employment contract with a theater using a different surname than his father’s, the narrator’s comments that Wilhelm “wrote down his assumed name quite mechanically, without knowing what he was doing” (176). In my interpretation, this comment gains a new meaning aside from the traditional one that Wilhelm is in a state of confusion. It can be read in the sense that Wilhelm only has a limited understanding of the significance of his signature, for his rebellion against Werner is more than just a way of asserting himself against the former and the current head of his original family. What is more, Wilhelm’s formal association with the theater also allows him to cross over to a fatherly position, when he serves in his dual role of the actor of Hamlet, the son, and of producer, the new father, of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Through the production of Hamlet, the motherly world of imagination and the fatherly world of business converge. The merging of the parental worlds allows Wilhelm to resolve his internal conflict between his maternal and paternal projections of their son’s identity as an adult, for at the climax of Wilhelm’s theater career, he calls the theater his “occupation” [in German “Geschäft,” “business”], a fact that merges the father’s commercial with the mother’s aesthetic world. Even though Wilhelm realizes his mother’s dream of his


Romantic Border Crossings

involvement with the theater, he fulfills his responsibilities as producer in the same orderly and responsible manner as his father conducted his business.12 Thus, mothering influences male socialization in Goethe’s Meister especially in those episodes, in which the protagonist assesses and redirects his process of self-definition. As a rule, mothering appears as a force that fosters in an individual the nurturance of others as well as self-determination allowing for a shift from the traditional division of gender roles to self-assigned new and more authentic ones. As a result of mothering, an individual’s role becomes androgynous in the sense that it combines masculine and feminine aspects, as defined by convention. Thus, mothering as a function that can be adopted by males or females, adolescent and adult, allows the individual to engage in a self-exploratory quest between submission to and rebellion against a society that reduces the individual to the restrictive roles assigned by the nuclear family. Therefore, Wilhelm Meister reflects more than just “a nostalgia for a form of community that preceded the nuclear family” (Schlipphacke 400). The novel seems to suggest a hybrid form of the old and the new merging the flexibility of the pre-nuclear family with the affection and compassion of the modern nuclear family for the benefit of both communal welfare and authentic individuality. Simultaneously, the work also seems to reject or at least to resist the concept of family altogether.13 I offer an additional theoretical reading of Wilhelm Meister, hoping to inspire further research on marginal identity in Goethe’s works by situating my argument more broadly within the contemporary discourses of gender and queer theories. My reasoning here follows a sense of psychoanalytic belatedness in which the later text sheds new light on the earlier one. When pointing out the different types of transgressions in Wilhelm Meister, my argument exposes this novel as a site in which the socio-psychological history of the European family and theories of reading, subject formation and gender converge. Thereafter, a re-reading of Goethe following contemporary gender and queer theories reveals that the presence of concepts such as difference, resistance and fluidity—no matter how they appear— create intertextual connections between literature and theories of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries.14 To link my thoughts to the most recent and compelling Goethe studies, I would like to draw on Benjamin Bennett’s Goethe as Woman. Bennett argues that Goethe responds to the aesthetics of eighteenth century 12 For an argument that sets up the worlds of Wilhelm’s parents as irreconcilable opposites see Hee-Ju Kim’s article “Rituelle Identitätsbildung. Zur Lossprechung Wilhelm Meisters.” 13 Wilhelm’s involvement with the secret Tower Society toward the end of the novel and his engagement with one of their associates, Natalie, does not lead as anticipated to a model version of the nuclear family but rather to its dissolution on the concrete level of the plot. Even though the end of the novel implies marriage between Wilhelm and Natalie, in the sequel Wilhelm Meister’s Wandering Years, the couple lives apart due to the concept of Entsagung, renunciation, to which they surrender in order to provide service to the greater communal good. Thus, the concept of family is elevated to the idealistic realm of literary exchange because that is the only way in which Wilhelm and Natalie stay in communication. This facet of Goethe’s experimentation with family begs for additional research. 14 See in particular Kevin Floyd and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick.

Transgressions of Gender and Generation in the Families of Goethe’s Meister


literature with resistance, rejecting a notion of reading as education that “brings into play a substantial continuity between the signified of the text and the inner life of the reader” because this process leads to an “open invitation to political co-option of the individual.” (14). Furthermore, Bennett defines Goethe’s resistance in terms of “‘difference’ as opposed to ‘polarization’” (230) and claims that Goethe “begins to form […] a notion of gender difference as the site, possibly, of a maximally public challenge to the aesthetic bias of literary culture. […] One must assert in literature the excluded or disqualified position of a woman” (14) in order to achieve “effective resistance against the aesthetic and its political consequences” (15) in the Lacanian sense “that the phallus signifies literary signification as such” (Bennett 229). Judith Butler’s feminist views on gender as a social construct and “performatively enacted signification” (Butler 33) in Gender Trouble resonate in Bennett’s reading of Goethe’s work in terms of a feminist project that empowers woman as gender with the potential of creating “radical semiotic destabilization” (Bennett 213). A performance-based theory of gender that allows for crossing the binary gender divide prescribed by bourgeois society and encourages a re-organizing of signification in order to overcoming phallogocentrism (in Luce Irigaray’s sense) can be traced back to Wilhelm Meister’s process of subject formation through his familial relationships. Wilhelm learns from early on that “the woman in marriage qualifies not as an identity, but only as a relational term” (Butler 39) to regulate relationships between men, when he repeatedly sees his mother forced to mediate between him and his father in order to preserve civility within the family. Based on his identification with his mother and his awareness of how his mother “becomes a woman” (Butler 33) by distinguishing herself from his father through compassionate mediation, Wilhelm as a young man also engages in the process of becoming a woman, when he rescues Mignon from her abuser. At the same time Wilhelm preserves his masculinity because he settles his power struggle with another man by trading a woman. Furthermore, the fact that Wilhelm disarms an abusive father figure symbolically frees him from his own father’s authority. Overall, Mignon’s rescue signifies a moment of gender fluidity and a moment in which both genders converge. Therefore, the Meister plot performs as well as anticipates notions of contemporary feminist theory. In the context of gender performativity, the mother’s passion for the theater appears as a symptom of her social role. In the end, the theater provides Wilhelm with an opportunity to assume an exterior masculine identity that allows for a “subversive multiplicity” (Butler 19) that is conventionally associated with a femininity that escapes patriarchal control.

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Chapter 6

Transcending Borders: Loss and Mourning in Gottfried August Bürger’s “Lenore” Gabriele Dillmann Denison University

Gottfried August Bürger’s ballad “Lenore,” composed during the spring and summer of 1773, established the reputation of this gifted and unique poet, making him famous throughout Germany as well as Europe.1 In fact, even a century later his renown lived on, as indicated by the German Realist writer Theodor Fontane: “Der Ruhm Bürgers hat mir immer als ein Ideal vorgeschwebt: ein Gedicht und unsterblich.” [I have always thought of Bürger’s fame as an ideal: to be immortal with one poem.] How can one explain such sweeping, enduring success? First of all, Bürger’s dissatisfaction with the literary conventions of his time, namely, the artificial values and contrived, affected manner of Rococo poetry, led him to aspire to an unconventional style combining lyrical, epic and dramatic elements that reverberated with the mood and character of the traditional folksong. His aspiration to such a style reflects the influence of Herder’s writings on Volkspoesie, in particular the essay “Auszug aus einem Briefwechsel über Ossian und die Lieder alter Völker,”2 which Bürger refers to with great enthusiasm and in which he finds his “popular” approach to “Lenore” mirrored and affirmed: “Ich denke, Lenore soll Herder’s Lehre einigermaßen entsprechen” (122).3 [“I think that Lenore shall fairly comply with Herder’s teachings.”] Herder’s distinction between Naturdichtung (natural poetic art) as popular and naïve and Kunstdichtung (poetic artistry) as less accessible and only to an initiated elite, appeals to Bürger’s artistic sentiment and socio-cultural interests in an improved “Humanität” (humanism).4 Second, Bürger’s poetic ingenuity, attaining masterful linguistic perfection, also helps explain the attention and respect that he not only received from his peers of the Göttingen Hain-Bund but also later throughout all literary periods inside and outside of Germany. For example Bürger scholar Schmidt-Kaspar contributes this success to the fact that “Bürgers ‘Lenore’ ist als Gebilde vollendet und lückenlos. Sie findet 1 I have used Wolfgang Friedrich’s edition of Bürger’s “Lenore.” See Bürger Werke und Briefe, Auswahl. 2 See “Von deutscher Art und Kunst. Einige fliegende Blätter.” Herders Sämmtliche Werke. Originally edited with Goethe and Möser in 1773. The collection of essays reflects the artistic principles of the “Sturm und Drang” period. 3 This passage is taken from Bürger’s letter to Boie. 4 See Herder’s Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit.


Romantic Border Crossings

für jedes Ding, für jeden Vorgang und jeden Gedanken das Bild: nicht nur ein Bild, sondern das einfachste, das klarste, das sinnfälligste Bild. In dieser zwingenden Sinnfälligkeit liegt die Kraft des Gedichts” (133). [Bürger’s Lenore is perfect and without any deficiencies. For every thing, every event, and every thought, the ballad finds its metaphor: and not just any metaphor but the simplest, the most lucid, the most striking and most obvious one. In this compelling simplicity lies the ballad’s strength.] In addition, the originality of Bürger’s work goes far in explaining his singular success, an originality lying most of all in the ballad’s sensuality, its close proximity to experience, the poet’s insistence on bringing his own personality into his poems, all of which is of universal appeal: “Der Erfolg, er war ungeheuer. Wer zählt die Gesellschaften, in denen die schaurig-schöne Lenore vorgetragen wurde? Wer zählt die Abschriften, die von Hand zu Hand gehen? Illustrationen und Kompositionen, ihre Zahl ist Legion” (Scherer 192–3). [The success was tremendous. Who can count all the social gatherings during which the eerily beautiful Lenore was recited? Who counts the copies, which went from one hand into another? The illustrations and compositions, the numbers are legionary.] Yet, “Lenore’s” unusual widespread popularity and tremendous success, the ballad’s spectacular reception extending to outside of national and linguistic borders cannot be fully understood in terms of just the above considerations, requiring further attention and elucidation. I believe its success can more fully be understood in terms of the ballad’s psychological dimension, for “Lenore” not only touches a nerve that concerns human life in its most fundamental condition, what Freud had conceptualized as the potentially traumatic reality of “annihilation anxiety,” but the work also presents otherwise taboo subjects such as erotic desire and suicide. It is those themes in addition to the great topics of literature, human life and suffering, concerns of “intimidating dimensions,” of “love, death, faith, apostasy, despair and punishment, and finally the cruel predominance of history that interferes with the individual’s fate” (SchmidtKaspar 131), which provide the ballad with its timeless appeal. The psychological dimension of the ballad furthermore gains in complexity with the introduction of a critique of church dogmatism, which Bürger exposes as adversative to the emotional needs of a human being in mourning. In thirty-two, eight-versed stanzas Bürger’s ballad tells the story of a young woman, Lenore, who remains inconsolable after the loss of her lover Wilhelm, a soldier who does not return from war. Wilhelm had left six years earlier for the Battle of Prague during the Seven-Years war. In 1763, King Frederick II of Prussia and Empress Maria Theresa of Austria finally made peace. Lenore watches other soldiers and their families reunite in relief while she remains alone. Nobody can provide her with any information on her lover’s fate. With the passing of the last soldier she breaks down in despair. Lenore’s mother tries to console her daughter by calling on God’s wisdom and the holy sacrament, but Lenore can find no comfort in her mother’s words. Her mother then suggests that Wilhelm may not be dead at all but rather that he has become involved with another woman “im fernen Ungarlande” [in the distant lands of Hungary]. Lenore is not convinced because for her “hin ist hin..verloren ist verloren.” “Gone is gone” and “lost is lost.”—Either way, she remains alone. Lenore’s need for her lover cannot be substituted with the promise

Loss and Mourning in Gottfried August Bürger’s “Lenore”


of the spiritual love of Jesus Christ. Lenore is inconsolable, and as oral tradition has it, the specter groom returns from the grave to take his bride with him. After a spooky, ghostly ride through an eerie, moonlit night, the rider along with his horse and Lenore disappear in the depths of a grave followed by a procession of howling ghosts and spirits. Although the question of Bürger’s sources for “Lenore” has not been answered definitively, there is no doubt of the influence exercised on the German poem by the ballad “Sweet William’s Ghost” from Thomas Percy’s folk poetry collection Reliques of Ancient English Poetry. Herder, for whom the Reliques were a great inspiration and model for his own work on Volkspoesie, included a German translation of “Sweet William” in his Ossian essay. Herder proclaims enthusiastically that there is “nichts in der Welt mehr,” “was kühn geworfner, abgebrochner und doch natürlicher, gemeiner, volksmässiger seyn kann” (Ossian 187–9) [that there is nothing in the world that could have been created more boldly, more uniquely and that at the same time is more natural and common, more folk-like]. This enthusiasm spilled over to Bürger and we can undoubtedly find more than only traces of “Sweet William” in “Lenore.”5 Some of Bürger’s critics have gone so far as to accuse the poet of 5 Compare: Is there any room at your head, Willie Or any room at your feet? Or any room at your side, Willie, Wherein that I may creep? There’s nay room at my head, Margret, There’s nay room at my feet, There’s no room at my side, Margret, My coffin is made so meet. (from Reliques) “Ist, Wilhelm, Raum noch dir zu Haupt, noch Raum zu Füßen dir? Ist Raum zu deiner Seite noch, So gib, o gib ihn mir!” Zu Haupt und Fuss ist mir nicht Raum Kein Raum zur Seite mir! Mein Sarg ist, süsses Hannchen, schmal, Dass ich ihn gebe dir! (Herder’s translation) “Sag an, wo ist dein Kämmerlein? Wo? Wie dein Hochzeitsbettchen?”— “Weit, weit von hier! —Still, kühl und klein!— Sechs Bretter und zwei Brettchen!”— “Hat’s Raum für mich?”—“Für dich und mich! Komm, schürze, spring und schwinge dich! Die Hochzeitsgäste hoffen; Die Kammer steht uns offen.”— (Bürger, “Lenore”)


Romantic Border Crossings

plagiarism. However, aside from what has been passed down by oral tradition, the themes of what Herder refers to as the “Bräutigamssitte” [the groom custom] and “das Kostume in der Erscheinung” (Ossian 189) [the customary in appearance], these correspondences can be linked only to some of the images in the ballad and not to its content, and they do not detract from Bürger’s achievement—the portrayal of a much deeper social and psychological dimension that questions church dogmatism and that, in Albrecht Schöne’s opinion, represents a “Kardinalbeispiel für Sekularisation” [a cardinal example for secularization].6 Whereas the question of the role of religious faith in this ballad has been answered in terms of its implications on the socio-political level, I would like to pick up on the role of religion in the ballad but take it into a different direction. In “Lenore,” the mother’s imperative to have faith in God’s goodness and wisdom provides no relief from the intense pain of loss, since from Lenore’s perspective God has not looked out for her and shows no pity for her suffering despite her faithful prayers. Her rejection of the idea of salvation and God’s mercy as “eitler Wahn” [mere madness] not only speaks to her acute despair and sense of hopelessness, but it is furthermore an attempt at protecting her own sense of self from fragmentation, which in its severity has the potential to resemble a psychotic state. In other words, Lenore’s need for somebody to confirm her feelings of torment as “natural” and understandable is so gravely denied that she has to turn to her own ego to have her inner reality confirmed in the outside world, or else she will go insane. “O Mutter, Mutter! Eitler Wahn! Gott hat an mir nicht wohlgetan! Was half, was half mein Beten? Nun ist’s nicht mehr vonnöten”— “Out, mother, out, on the empty lie! Doth he heed my despair,—doth he list to my cry? What boots it now to hope or to pray? The night is come,—there is no more day.”

A more literal, albeit much less elegant, translation of this stanza from the German will speak to this point more clearly:

“Ah, where is the chamber, William dear, And William, where is the bed?” “Far, far from here: still, narrow, and cool; Plank and bottom and lid.” “Hast room for me?”—“For me and thee; Up, up to the saddle right speedily! The wedding-guests are gathered and met, And the door of the chamber is open set” (Rossetti’s translation). 6 See his Säkularisation als sprachbildende Kraft, Studien zur Dichtung deutscher Pfarrersöhne.

Loss and Mourning in Gottfried August Bürger’s “Lenore”


“O mother, mother! It is mere madness! God has not treated me well! What did all my praying help? Now it is no longer necessary.”

The empathic failure that Lenore experiences from her mother is transferred and experienced as an empathic failure from God. Her despair is derived from the prohibition to express her disappointment in how God has determined her fate, and the consequential accusation of sinning against God by making her frustration known. With her mother denying Lenore the expression of her pain and despair at having been unjustly and unfairly punished, Lenore’s acute sense of hopelessness, loneliness, and abandonment in the world becomes intensified. Since the mother’s instructions for her daughter rely on church dogmatism rather than an individualistic, personal relationship with God, her words of consolation remain formulaic and conventional. The daughter does not feel understood and mirrored by her mother, and subsequently she must reject her lack of empathy and distanced stance, along with the religious convention accompanying them. As a result, one could understand Lenore’s “wild and unruly” behavior as a rebellion against the conventions of her mother’s generation and the need to free and detach herself from those in order to enable the development of a self-sustaining individuality. Lenore demands the right for an individualized and personalized fulfillment. Taken a step further, God is not only the father in heaven but also a father figure in a more literal sense. He takes the place of the father who is not present, and who has long been absent. It appears to be an inescapable reality that the same fate awaits Lenore with the loss of her lover as it had been the case for her mother: a life prematurely focused on salvation in the hereafter and deprived of sensual and erotic fulfillment, the result of an all too early widowhood. The mother had been deprived of a life with a husband, and the daughter of a life with a father. For the mother, God had become a substitute husband, and in that sense God is also a substitute father for Lenore. Whether bloody warfare took the father away from Lenore just as it took her lover is not explicitly stated. The experience of loss, however, is nevertheless pervasive in “Lenore.” Anger and rage are emotions inseparably connected with the helplessness and frustration of loss. The target of this anger is the lost person, but since the frustration is no longer directly expressible it becomes transferred to a substitute person or an imago. The “father who helps the children” has not been there for Lenore and is not there now. The experience of loss and the subsequent complexities of the mourning process are constant and recurrent themes in the ballad to such a degree that the reader must view them as extending beyond the vicissitudes of mourning the death of a loved one. After the mother’s unsuccessful attempt at consoling her daughter with the promise of God’s goodness, she hopes to divert Lenore’s thoughts by accusing William of unfaithfulness conjuring up the stereotype of the sexually promiscuous gipsy woman:


Romantic Border Crossings “Hör Kind! Wie, wenn der falsche Mann Im fernen Ungarlande Sich seines Glaubens abgetan Zum neuen Ehebande?” “What if the traitor‘s false faith failed, By sweet temptation tried,— What if in distant Hungary He clasp another bride?—”

However, for Lenore the experience of loss is equally painful whether it is due to her lover’s infidelity or due to his death. “O Mutter! Mutter! Hin ist hin! Verloren ist verloren!” “Oh! mother, mother! gone is gone, And lost will still be lost!”

The intensity of the feelings she experiences as a result of her loss is so overwhelming that instantly all hope withers. Suicidal ideation is the immediate and only resolution for Lenore: Lisch aus, mein Licht, auf ewig aus! Stirb hin, stirb hin in Nacht und Graus! Spark of my life! down, down to the tomb: Die away in the night, die away in the gloom!

But well before this crucial point, the theme of loss and grief is introduced in the very first lines of the ballad. Lenore awakes early in the morning, troubled and unsettled by disturbing dreams (“aus schweren Träumen”). She worries that Wilhelm has been unfaithful or that he is dead since he has not written in so long. That her mother should later use her daughter’s deepest fears as a way to distract Lenore from her impious thought, blaming her lover of infidelity, only further reveals how painfully alone Lenore is. For Lenore, the grieving process does not begin with the return of Wilhelm’s regiment. The anticipatory grief that Bürger so artfully places at the very beginning of his ballad not only underscores the intensity and inescapability of Lenore’s suffering, but it also constitutes the emotional field out of which the entire ballad arises, a field of prolonged loss and deprivation. Suicidal ideation then is the solution to a life that has become unbearable over time and not the spontaneous reaction to a sudden, acute experience of loss. The manner in which Bürger portrays Lenore’s affect, her intense reaction to her loss in the form of violent outbursts and fits of despair, seems to be shaped by what we have since come to describe as typical gestures of ‘Storm and Stress’ sentiment. Yet, Lenore’s affect does not strike us as overly indulgent, as exaggerated or contrived. On the contrary, the affect that she displays elicits compassion and sympathy, so much that it feels rather appropriate as a grief reaction to loss even today in a rationalized world where moderation of affect and self-control are valued,

Loss and Mourning in Gottfried August Bürger’s “Lenore”


and where we admire a “courageous” attitude, which allows us quickly to get over a loss and go on with our lives. Almost exactly a century after Bürger had written “Lenore,” Charles Darwin describes the physical aspects of the grief reaction in his 1872 work Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (80–81;178–97). The similarities between the two are striking. Als nun das Heer vorüber war, Zerraufte sie ihr Rabenhaar, Und warf sich hin zur Erde, Mit wütiger Gebärde. She tore her black hair, And furiously threw herself to the ground.7 So wütete Verzweifelung Ihr in Gehirn und Adern. Sie fuhr mit Gottes Vorsehung Vermessen fort zu hadern; Zerschlug den Busen, und zerrang Die Hand, bis Sonnenuntergang, Thus grief racked and tore the breast of Lenore, And busy was her brain; Thus rose her cry to the Power on high, To question and arraign: Wringing her hands and beating her breast,— Tossing and rocking without any rest;—

For his part, Darwin describes the early grief reaction as being characterized by much muscular hyperactivity such as hand-wringing, aimless wild walking, and hair- and clothes-pulling, then going on to interpret this behavior as a sign of impotence that the bereaved feels to undo the death that has just occurred. This frantic movement changes when the realization sets in that nothing can be done, whereupon deep sorrow and despair follow (Pollock 152). Lenore’s repeatedly stated wish to die, “for her light to be put out forever,” is the expression of such acute despair and intense sense of hopelessness. As suicidologist Edwin Shneidman points out in his study Comprehending Suicide, hopelessness and helplessness play a major role in the “internal mental drama,” which in turn is “surrounded by a syllogism that sees only escape as the acceptable solution.” Yet, this desire for death is not without a strong feeling of guilt. Self-inflicted death was, and still is, a taboo. Church dogma described suicide as a sin, the law as a crime. Thus we find alternative depictions of suicide in many of the folk tales and popular songs and poems. One need only remember the scandal surrounding Goethe’s Werther published only one year after Bürger’s “Lenore” to appreciate this point. “Lenore” 7 My own translation here, which is concerned not with style, but rather with an accurate rendering of the image and the portrayal of Lenore’s affect. From this perspective, Rossetti’s translation is thus misleading: “She tore her hair and she turned her round,/And madly she dashed her against the ground.”


Romantic Border Crossings

is no exception in that sense for Bürger calls on the specter groom from oral folk tradition who comes and takes his bride away with him into his grave rather than explicitly making Lenore the agent of her death. Nevertheless, the ballad not only reveals Lenore’s wish to die but it also exposes her feelings of guilt and shame associated with the actual physical execution of this desire. Lenore anticipates her own dying experience to be ghastly, full of horror—not unlike how death and life in hell of those deemed sinners are depicted in medieval liturgy and the graphic works of the medieval painter Hieronymus Bosch. Lisch aus mein Licht, auf ewig aus! Stirb hin, stirb hin in Nacht und Graus! Spark of my life! down, down to the tomb: Die away in the night, die away in the gloom!

This “Graus,” this “horror,” then echoes throughout the rest of the ballad as the specter horseman rides through the night with Lenore as his prey.8 “Graut Liebchen auch? … Der Mond scheint hell! Hurra! Die Toten reiten schnell! Graut Liebchen auch vor Toten?”— “What ails my love? the moon shines bright: Bravely the dead men ride through the night. Is my love afraid of the quiet dead?”

These lines, which the specter horseman repeats three times during the frightening ride, have an ironic, mocking if not contemptuous quality to them, as if he were laughing at Lenore’s ignorance for having followed him. Lenore can only react with denial to his sardonic question, which allows her to contain her fear for the time being: “Ach nein! ... Doch lass die Toten.” [Ah no, but leave the dead alone.] The dreadful ride ends in a grave, which swallows up the couple. This scoffing voice can be understood as the voice that comes from deep within Lenore’s self as she gives in to her longing for death. And as she fades, she is surrounded one last time by those hectoring voices that live within her as the result of her cultural milieu, her moralistic references, to speak in Freud’s terms of the moralizing effect of superego functions. Thus, unlike what other interpreters suggest, the final lines do not represent Bürger’s moralistic point of view, which would oddly contrast with his empathic, sympathetic narrative voice, but rather they give expression to the non-empathic climate with which Lenore is confronted in an environment where church dogma is substituted for caritas and the bereaved is left without consolation and hope.

8 Rossetti translates the German noun “Graus” with “gloom” for the purpose of maintaining rhyme and rhythm. “Graus,” however, is better translated with “horror,” which is of important interpretative significance here.

Loss and Mourning in Gottfried August Bürger’s “Lenore”


“Geduld! Geduld! Wenn’s Herz auch bricht! Mit Gott im Himmel hadre nicht! Des Leibes bist du ledig; Gott sei der Seele gnädig!” “Patience, patience, when the heart is breaking; With thy God there is no question-making: Of thy body thou art quit and free: Heaven keep thy soul eternally!”

Grief after loss is a fundamental human experience that defies any moralistic or ideological self-righteousness. Therein the ballad’s widespread appeal emerges, as well as the unusual and hence popular effect that was so important to its poet.

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PART III Historical Border Crossings

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Chapter 7

Crossing from ‘Jacobin’ to ‘Anti-Jacobin’: Rethinking the Terms of English Jacobinism Miriam L. Wallace New College of Florida

Novels of purpose between 1790 and 1805, showing sympathy with British reformist projects associated with the French Revolution, have been commonly denominated English “Jacobin novels”—at least since Gary Kelly’s 1976 The English Jacobin Novel and Marilyn Butler’s 1975 Jane Austen and the War of Ideas. Thus, fictions by William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, Thomas Holcroft, Mary Hays, Elizabeth Inchbald, Robert Bage, Charlotte Smith, Eliza Fenwick, and John Thelwall are frequently termed “Jacobin novels” on the basis of their authorship alone. The terminology of “English Jacobins” itself was solidly established in 1797, when the Anti-Jacobin Weekly began publication, followed in 1798 by its sequel, the AntiJacobin Review and Magazine; or, Monthly Political and Literary Censor.1 As early as 1797 and 1798 then, the designation of “anti-Jacobin” was institutionalized to indicate a rejection of all that could be associated with English “Jacobinism”—antiJacobins stressed particularly 1) Loyalty to King, church, the current government and its laws, 2) English common sense as opposed to French “theory” or “system,” and 3) The foundation of social order in private property and domestic moral virtue. In English, “Jacobin” is already marked as a misprision, a foreign political term wrenched from its original significance to serve local political ends.2 Derived from the name given to the extreme French revolutionary political party because they held their meetings in the old Dominican convent of St. Jacques, the word itself was markedly French with foreign political and religious lineages. “Jacobin” became the dominant term of disapprobation for British reformers despite the fact that those denominated as “Jacobins” were affiliated more closely by personal ties and 1 Graeme Stones notes two important progenitors of the Anti-Jacobin Review, though neither had the institutional impact of the Review: The Anti-Leveller was published in 1793 and Alexander Watson’s The Anti-Jacobin, a Hudibrastic Poem in Twenty-one Cantos was published in 1794 (“Introduction,” lvi–lvii). 2 The so-called English “Jacobins” were, as is well documented, much more closely aligned with the French Girondin political party than with the “Jacobins” or “Montagnards.” The 1793 Terror, in which the Jacobins eliminated their rival Girondins, ironically provided both the term and the rationale for attacking British reformers inspired by the principles of the French Revolutionary party of the Girondins.


Romantic Border Crossings

political beliefs with the Girondins, rather than the French Jacobin or Montagnard factions (Helen Maria Williams, Mary Wollstonecraft, John Fenwick). Many socalled English Jacobins had little or no tie to French political groups at all (William Godwin, Mary Hays, Robert Bage, John Thelwall), and those who did were liable to imprisonment and even guillotining by the French Jacobins (Wollstonecraft, Williams, Thomas Paine). The OED gives the usage of “Jacobin” (and the related “Jacobinical,” “Jacobinism,” etc.) as designating an English “radical reformer” rather than the more limited French application beginning around 1800.3 Institutionalizing the term “Jacobin” within Britain to indicate not only French sympathies, but dangerous desires for social and political reform, was the express purpose of the 1797 Anti-Jacobin Weekly and the subsequent Anti-Jacobin Magazine and Literary Censor (1798–1821). These two pro-government periodicals were particularly significant in popularizing the terminology of ‘Jacobinism’ as a catch-all for any person, group, or writing perceived to threaten the British establishment or William Pitt’s government. In fact, however, the targets of the Anti-Jacobin were so varied in their sympathies that it is difficult to recognize them as a coherent group. “English Jacobins” has since become a normative term, however, for both historians and literary critics in the twentieth century: Carl B. Cone’s important historical study is titled The English Jacobins: Reformers in the Late 18th Century (1968) and Gary Kelly’s foundational literary study is entitled The English Jacobin Novel 1780–1805 (1976). Modern scholarship has contributed to reiterating and solidifying this overdetermined opposition between English Jacobins and anti-Jacobins by accepting the polemical terms of The Anti-Jacobin Weekly and Review, and by using these publications to define the very terms at stake.4 Despite its status as misnomer, it is now critically difficult to refer to the works produced by Godwin, Wollstonecraft and their extended circle without use of the term “Jacobin.” Likewise it is common practice to denominate satirical and sentimental narratives that revisit these works and writers critically as “anti-Jacobin.” Scholarship that reproduces these terms even critically also institutionalizes it, and scholarly editions of the satires, poetry, and satirical prints produced in and for the Anti-Jacobin Review may reify what they seek to question. In particular, James Gillray’s prints for the Review have had a long afterlife as book covers and illustrations for critical works on the 1790s: Gillray’s “A Peep in the Cave of Jacobinism” adorns both Matthew Grenby’s Anti-Jacobin Novel and William Stafford’s English Feminists and Their Opponents in the 1790s, although as Helen B. Ellis documents “[o]n occasion … the review went too far for even its readers—it admitted in December 1798 that some of Gillray’s cartoons had been misunderstood (1:739), and very few more appeared” (“The Anti-Jacobin Review,” in British Literary Magazines, Vol. 2: The Romantic Age, 1789–1836, ed. Alvin Sullivan, 13). An explicitly anti-Jacobin print by Isaac Cruikshank even appears on classroom editions of William Godwin’s Enquiry Concerning Political 3 From the OED, 2nd Edition online, 1989: “b. transf. A sympathizer with the principles of the Jacobins of the French Revolution; an extreme radical in politics or social organization. About 1800, a nickname for any political reformer.” 4 See Kelly, Butler, and Cone for foundational uses and examinations of this terminology. See M.O. Grenby and William Stafford for more recent re-examinations.

Rethinking the Terms of English Jacobinism


Justice published by Oxford University Press, further institutionalizing the extreme anti-Jacobin view. From the nineteenth-century editions of The Beauties of the Anti-Jacobin to the recent Pickering edition of Parodies of the Romantic Age, Volume One: The Anti-Jacobin, the poetry and parody produced for these two publications has had an inordinate influence on critical perceptions of the 1790s and early 1800s. As Ellis argues of the broad and inclusive sweep of the Anti-Jacobin Review’s attacks: palpable falsehoods ... are not atypical. Continually appealing to the grosser prejudices of its readers, the Anti-Jacobin throughout its twenty-three years used invective, innuendo, distortion, misrepresentation, and vicious personal abuse. … … The Anti-Jacobin was against popery (18:530), Catholics (20:426), the Irish (20:16), Irish Catholics (18:318), Catholic Emancipation (20:284), Quakers (30:329–30). Dissenters (59:86), and Scots... (8:387). It attacked the Monthly (18:415), Critical (9:87), and Analytical (1:75–6) reviews. ... Arthur Aikin’s Annual Review was opposed because it espoused Unitarian and other schismatic doctrines (18:512); Unitarians because they did not believe in the Trinity (35:121–3); Methodists because they did not respect property and class distinctions (8:157–9); the Toleration Act because it allowed unlicensed and uneducated Dissenters to preach on the Sabbath (18:102–3). Similarly, the anti-slavery movement was bad: the slaves were better off in the West Indies than they were in Africa (26:26). It believed that newspapers should not disseminate information to the labouring poor (43:152); that Sunday schools should not teach the labouring poor to read and write (26:36–7); and that the Lancastrian system of education did not teach Christianity according to the Church of England (29:292). The British and Foreign Bible Society was censured because priests of the Church of England sat in the same room as Dissenting ministers (21:53) (Ellis, 13–14).

With such an inclusive list of targets, the term “anti-Jacobin” seems only problematically useful in designating many of the writers and works usually categorized by their overt opposition to “modern philosophy.” Further, if the philosophical, literary, and public political movement of “English Jacobinism” preceded the reaction of “Anti-Jacobinism,” the trajectory of influence and reaction is nevertheless not simply one of thesis and antithesis, as the terms themselves appear etymologically to suggest. Surprisingly the philosophical, political and parodic novels most often designated as “anti-Jacobin” are nearly co-terminus with the “Jacobin” novel—emerging in complex conversation with continuing debates on reforming political and social institutions. Burke’s 1790 Reflections on the Revolution spawned Paine’s 1791 Rights of Man and Wollstonecraft’s 1790 Vindication of the Rights of Man. In fiction, Holcroft’s Anna St. Ives and Charlotte Smith’s Desmond appear in the same year (1792) as Anna Maria MacKenzie’s Slavery: or, the Times, while Hays’s Victim of Prejudice, Godwin’s St. Leon, and Robinson’s Natural Daughter appear in the same year (1799) as George Walker’s The Vagabond and Jane West’s A Tale of the Times. Finally, Amelia Opie’s Adeline Mowbray is published a year before Holcroft’s attack on capital punishment and criminal law in Bryan Perdue (1805). What this publishing history reveals is that these two threads develop together in a mutually reinforcing dialogic relationship, exploring issues of education, national character, religious toleration, civic citizenship and social-political order.


Romantic Border Crossings

The reactive term “Anti-Jacobin” in fact creates and disciplines the “original” term “English Jacobin” rather than merely following from it. As John Thelwall wrote in 1796 in The Rights of Nature, “it [Jacobin] is fixed upon us, as a stigma, by our enemies” (cited Cone, iii), suggesting that the identity of an “English Jacobin” was developed only in the ongoing debate and public polemics of the 1790s. Emerging as a “structure of feeling” in the 1780s and early 1790s (see Raymond Williams, Marxism and Literature, Oxford: Oxford UP, 1977,128–35), English radicalism or “Jacobinism” was importantly formed as an ideological identity by those who created themselves as its opposite and its opposition. If both terms are mutually constructing, then actual confusion about who and what counts as “Jacobin” or “anti-Jacobin” despite the extreme dichotomy presumed between these terms seems less surprising. II—Jacobinism and anti-Jacobinism Identifying works as either “Jacobin” or “anti-Jacobin” has become critically commonplace, yet remains quite contradictory in practice. Gary Kelly’s The English Jacobin Novel developed an important narrative, defining the English Jacobin novel as marked by unity of purpose, thus not merely any work engaging political or social issues of the day. For Kelly, the Jacobin novel begins officially with Thomas Holcroft’s Anna St. Ives in 1792, and continues through to William Godwin’s Fleetwood (1805), at which point: “the English Jacobin novel is transformed into the Romantic novel or the novel of sentimental satire, … just as the English Jacobin politics are transformed into nineteenth-century radical and liberal politics…” (12). The “transformation” into something else remains a contested and conflicted subject of literary analysis and debate. More recently, M. O. Grenby’s The Anti-Jacobin Novel: British Conservatism and the French Revolution (2001) revitalized the old story, that the “Jacobin” novel came first, but was short-lived and immediately overwhelmed by the greater number of conservative “anti-Jacobin” novels that dominate after 1798 and into the early 1800s: The reality was that anti-Jacobin novels outnumbered Jacobin fictions and outlasted them too. Even including the more dubiously Jacobin novels there were still only about twenty radical novels produced, with only a very few of them appearing any later than 1796. The forty-plus conservative novels reached a peak of production only in/about 1800 and fresh works were still appearing five years later. Anti-Jacobin fiction as propaganda may not have actually won the Revolution debate itself, but it was certainly on the winning side. (2–3)

Grenby provides a helpful bibliography of the works he defines as anti-Jacobin and “other works” consulted which he leaves uncategorized, at least enabling dissent and discussion among his readers. Among those he counts as anti-Jacobin are: Robert Bisset’s Douglas, or the Highlander (1800), Edward Dubois’s St Godwin: A Tale of the Sixteenth, Seventeenth, and Eighteenth Century by Count Reginald De Saint Leon (1800), Elizabeth Hamilton’s Memoirs of Modern Philosophers (1800), Sophia King’s Waldorf; or, the Dangers of Philosophy (1798), Charles Lloyd’s Edmund

Rethinking the Terms of English Jacobinism


Oliver (1798), Charles Lucas’s The Infernal Quixote (1801), Amelia Opie’s Adeline Mowbray (1804), Mary Robinson’s Hubert de Sevrac (1796), Charlotte Smith’s The Banished Man (1794), George Walker’s The Vagabond (1799), and Jane West’s A Tale of the Times (1799). With many of these works out of print until the late 1990s, scholars who lacked access to special collections relied on critical representations of these works and so mostly reproduced earlier judgments of these works as unproblematically “anti-Jacobin.” Significantly, some of these works are primarily personal satire directed against William Godwin and his works (Dubois, Walker), while others are more complexly narrative (Hamilton, Lloyd, Opie). Some are even produced by writers more commonly considered as themselves either Jacobins or are strongly affiliated with radical and reformist sympathies (Smith, Robinson, and even Opie). Grenby’s list both corroborates and diverges from the designations provided by other critics, calling into question the basis for categorization of some works. April London in “Novel and History in Anti-Jacobin Satire” (Yearbook of English Studies 30 [2000]: 71–81) argues interestingly that the anti-Jacobin novel presages the development of historical romance because it insists that the Jacobins mistake the distinction between romance and history in their speculative fictions. But London does not question the categorization of some of the works she examines as “anti-Jacobin.” London considers George Walker’s The Vagabond, Bisset’s Douglas, West’s Tale of the Times, and Hamilton’s Modern Philosophers, arguing that these works “appropriate[d] the readership of political romances, [and] attempt[ed] to convert naïve idealists into social realists. These novels adopt[ed] satire to criticize romance, combining an attack on the public domain of radical politics with censure of the various narrative forms through which radical principles are expressed” (73). However, because these novels themselves often adopt the very narrative strategies that they parody, the distinction itself begs the question. Other critics, particularly feminist critics, have been arguing in recent years for a more nuanced reconsideration of apparently “conservative” or anti-revolutionary writing particularly by women authors. Claudia Johnson in 1989 warned that: Political analysis cannot be left at the level of identifying an author’s sympathies with this or that administration. Most of the novels written in the “war of ideas” are more complicated and less doctrinaire than modern commentators have represented. It does not suffice to denominate writers as “conservative” or “radical” according to whether they were “for” or “against” the French Revolution. By the mid-1790s, with France and England at war and the Revolution and Terror faits accomplis, there were few English “Jacobins” around, and among professed “anti-Jacobins,” there is far more disagreement than first meets the eye. (xxi)

Simply put, English radicalism after the 1793 Terror and the execution of Louis XVI was less inclined to align itself with the current Revolution, so that claiming “revolutionary sympathies” post-1793 becomes in Britain a more nuanced and metaphorical claim. Besides Johnson, critics including Marilyn Butler, Anne K. Mellor (in Mothers of the Nation), Eleanor Ty (in Empowering the Feminine), Claire Grogan (in her Introduction to Memoirs of Modern Philosophers), and Janice Thaddeus (in “Elizabeth Hamilton’s Modern Philosophers and the Uncertainties of


Romantic Border Crossings

Satire”) have worked to reexamine novels initially cast as “Jacobin” or “anti-Jacobin,” radical or conservative with a careful eye to distinguishing the works’ overt message or “moral” from their implied leanings or “tendency.” William Stafford’s English Feminists and Their Opponents in the 1790s: Unsex’d and Proper Females (2002) uses Richard Polwhele’s infamous terms from “The Unsex’d Females” provisionally to discriminate between “proper” and “unsex’d” women writers, noting however, that on issues of women’s education, the dangers of social snobbery and fashionable behavior, and female dignity, these writers are often less different than the rhetoric surrounding them would suggest: It is clear, then, that male antijacobin [sic] writers could call upon a considerable cohort of female allies. It is clear also that by the end of the decade the voice of the Wollstonecraftian tendency had become muted. But this was not because all of the ‘unsex’d’ females had been terrorized into silence by antijacobin propaganda. Wollstonecraft died before the storm broke over her reputation. It was also the Grim Reaper who gave the quietus to Macaulay Graham and to Robinson, who continued to defend both the ideas and the life of Wollstonecraft to the end. Smith’s last novel was as radical as Desmond, and she stopped writing because of illness, and because a partial settlement of her father-in-law’s will removed the pressure of financial necessity. Hays adapted her rhetorical strategy so as to put radical ideas across in greater safety. … the female allies of the antijacobins, the approved ‘proper’ female writers such as More, West, Hamilton, and Edgeworth, continued to promote women’s issues. For in spite of Polwhele’s separation of sheep from goats, they shared much common ground with ‘unsex’d’ females on such matters as the intellectual capacities of women, their education and their social roles. (Stafford 34)

Interestingly, Stafford’s claims directly rebut those of Grenby: both are working with reception history and histories of reading, and both come to opposite conclusions. For Grenby, modern critics who find in the works of Opie, Hamilton, West and More echoes of Wollstonecraft and Hays on women’s education and role in the public sphere of letters are producing special pleading. For historians like Stafford and literary critics like Claudia Johnson, Anne Mellor, and Janice Thaddeus, the mediations of message carried in novels with overtly parodic elements is complex, and reconfigures the “public sphere” and women’s political role. One reason for the confusion between such seemingly opposite terms is that the social concerns and literary strategies of both are quite similar. Even the extreme Anti-Jacobin Review and Literary Censor borrows strategies introduced by writers like William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft to instruct its readers in how to read, a strategy associated with the very Jacobins they decry. Both ostensibly Jacobin and anti-Jacobin works use strategies of 1) parodic textual citation, 2) satirical representations of persons or types, and 3) the tropes of sentimental narrative. Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Man and Thomas Paines’ Rights of Man both use parodic citations to attack Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution, for example. Wollstonecraft famously uses parodic citation again in Vindication of the Rights of Woman to critique theories of female education—Rousseau’s in particular—an area in which such ostensibly anti-Jacobin works as Elizabeth Hamilton’s Memoirs of Modern Philosophers and Jane West’s The Advantages of Education (1793) follow.

Rethinking the Terms of English Jacobinism


Personal satire is found in Charlotte Smith’s Desmond, in which Edmund Burke is often understood as the figure behind Desmond’s anti-revolutionary interlocutor, Erasmus Bethel (See Janet Todd and Antje Blank, “Introduction” to Charlotte Smith’s Desmond, Brookfield, VT: Pickering and Chatto, 1997, xxiii–xxix). More generalized satire is used against types of corrupt bishops, members of Parliament, and judges in Thomas Holcroft’s Hugh Trevor (1794 & 1796). On the anti-Jacobin side, one of the key elements used to categorize such works is parodic figures taken to stand for particularly emblematic writers such as William Godwin, Thomas Holcroft, Mary Wollstonecraft, or Mary Hays. Elizabeth Hamilton’s Mr. Myope and Bridgetina Botherim in Modern Philosophers were immediately understood by contemporary reviewers as respectively figures for William Godwin and Mary Hays (combined with her character Emma Courtney).5 Amelia Opie’s Adeline Mowbray in the first volume in which Adeline consents to live with the philosopher Glenmurry outside of legal wedlock was taken as a direct representation of Godwin and Wollstonecraft’s illicit union, documented in Godwin’s 1798 Memoirs of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. If those novels more often designated Jacobin or radical tend to represent the sufferings of fallen women, the poor, and those lacking in family connections as caused by social injustice, those frequently cast as anti-Jacobin more often represent a naïve heroine seduced by fraudulent philosopher, or represent the poor as best benefited by charitable Christianity to support their place in the social order rather than being incited to demand “rights.” Thus, it is the solutions to common concerns that most helpfully distinguish the more radical from the more reformist and the more loyalist texts. Even if Grenby is correct in asserting that “anti-Jacobin” fiction became dominant and marketable in the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, it remains a curious fact that there is significant overlap in publication dates, the social concerns, narrative strategies, and even in some cases in the authors who are said to have written “Jacobin” or “anti-Jacobin” work. Grenby includes in his list of “antiJacobin” works consulted such obvious parodies as St. Godwin (Edward Dubois, 1800) and the more debatable Hubert de Sevrac (Mary Robinson, 1796). Burney scholars will be surprised to find The Wanderer classed as an anti-Jacobin novel, and Robinson scholars may likewise quibble with calling The Natural Daughter an anti-Jacobin novel on the strength of its negative portrayal of Robespierre and Marat, given the novel’s more radical concern with the difficulties facing women who fall outside the protection of fathers and husbands. The works that particularly deserve more nuanced attention than the label “anti-Jacobin” encourages are those that are more ambiguous, complexly engaged with public debates and that seek to engage the reader likewise. St. Godwin, as a relatively short and extreme pastiche of St. Leon and Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of the Rights of Woman is less interesting stylistically and narratively than more convoluted works such as Amelia Alderson Opie’s 1804 Adeline Mowbray, Elizabeth Hamilton’s 1800 Memoirs of Modern Philosophers, or Charles Lloyd’s 1798 Edmund Oliver. Simply 5 See The Critical Review 29 (May 1800): 311–13, The British Critic 16 (October 1800): 439–40, and The Anti-Jacobin Review 7 (Sept. 1800): 39–46 and 7 (Dec. 1800): 369–76 for these identifications. Useful excerpts are included in Grogan’s edition of Modern Philosophers, 407–12.


Romantic Border Crossings

labeling these works “anti-Jacobin” invites critical dismissal or at least superficial examination to identify the works’ loyalist or conventional messages, neglecting the more complex engagement with roles for unmarried women, the social advancement of laboring people, and the abolition of West Indian slavery. Following the distinction between “moral” and “tendency” laid out by Godwin in “Of Choice in Reading,” (The Enquirer, 1797), the morals of Opie’s Adeline, Holcroft’s Anna St. Ives, Hays’s Emma Courtney, Charles Lloyd’s Edmund Oliver, and Hamilton’s Modern Philosophers seem surprisingly similar at a surface level: self-control must override passion, true and false sensibility may be distinguished by their differing effects, and gender-specific dangers threaten women and men who are unable to make such distinctions. Women in these novels have a special duty and role in familial, relational, and emotional life; while each novel delineates that role somewhat differently, each grants to female behavior and example enormous power for good or ill. Charles Lucas’s The Infernal Quixote refines this concern with self-control, making the true sign of depravity the ability of the villain, James Marauder, to restrain his passions and dissemble his feelings. Despite the anti-Godwin diatribes sprinkled throughout Lucas’s book, several radicals are reformed through rational argument and the love of a good woman, though reformation is signaled by a return to the Church and support for the King’s army. Passions lead to errors, but the ability to control passion to serve narrow self-interest is a much more serious crime in this novel. When the loyalist hero, Wilson Wilson, sends an Irish rogue to a friend for reformation; the narrator tells us that: Wilson knew that the gentleman to whom he recommended this man, was of a free and liberal disposition, uninfluenced by the selfish fears and illiberal suspicions which generally accompany those who are hacknied in the affairs of the world, and who, in their conduct with others, proceed with a caution, misnamed prudence, that damps every kind, generous, and virtuous emotion of the heart. –That merciless, that unforgiving temper, which so many possess whom the want of temptation, or the apathy of their passions, keeps virtuous, is indirectly the cause of as much vice in the world, as the uncurbed violence of indulged youth, whose willful desires are their only law (Lucas 339).

The narrator here distinguishes the proper English Christian response as one free of worldly suspicion, concerned for the reformation of all, and more generous toward the passionate errors of others than the prudent self-interest that The Infernal Quixote associates with the “Jacobins.” The narrator then accuses the mother who casts her son’s mistress on the streets of a greater crime than the son who seduced the maid in the first place, and attacks the man who reveals the criminal past of a petty thief now reformed and living a useful life: The poor wretch that yesterday paid the forfeit of his crimes at the fatal tree, some years since committed a petty theft, was discovered, and properly punished. Shame drove him from home, repentance kept him honest.—Many years had passed by, and he had gained a new master, new friends, and a new name; when lo! a purse-proud man, who never felt temptation without the power of gratifying it, came to the spot. He recognized the poor sinner, he tore open the half-healed wound!—His master discards him—his friends

Rethinking the Terms of English Jacobinism


forsake him;—again necessity and revenge supply him with the means of subsistence; he robs him whose excessive honesty had destroyed his daily bread—he is taken—and dies! (339)

If not precisely Godwin’s argument against punishment for past crimes in Political Justice as an ineffective and morally unjustifiable action, there is a certain congruence in Lucas’s concept of Christian forgiveness and reformation and Godwin’s notion of rational reformation through an understanding of error. As Godwin argues, Reformation is improvement; and nothing can take place in a man worthy the name of improvement otherwise than by an appeal to the unbiased judgement of his mind, and the essential feelings of his nature. …To conceive that compulsion and punishment are the proper means of reformation is the sentiment of a barbarian; civilization and science are calculated to explode so ferocious an idea. It was once universally admitted and approved; it is now necessarily upon the decline (Political Justice, 667–8).

If Godwin believes in individual rational conviction, Lucas believes in the power of Christian forgiveness to effect a similar internal psychological change in its object, or at least his reader. The overt moral of The Infernal Quixote is certainly that Godwin’s doctrines are pernicious and particularly liable to misunderstanding and illicit use by those who have nefarious purposes. The novel insistently associates Godwin, Paine, Horne Tooke, and other prominent figures with devilry and Satan. Likewise, the satirical introduction to Hamilton’s Modern Philosophers, which attacks the publishing world for its taste for radical texts and offers instead the rescued text of the novel, sets itself in overt opposition to writings transparently representing those of Godwin, Holcroft, and Hays. Lloyd’s Edmund Oliver, like Opie’s Adeline Mowbray portrays the fall of a promising and feeling woman through dangerous reading. However, these works’ tendencies are remarkably varied. Adeline’s tendency to evaluate Adeline’s irregular domestic arrangement with Glenmurray as a more equal and happier union than her legitimate marriage with the dissolute Berrendale worried astute reviewers at the time of the book’s publication despite overt moral points against divorce and in support of marriage.6 Lucas’s Infernal Quixote likewise worried reviewers who noted that despite its overt attacks on “democracy,” the novel also makes “a carpenter’s son turn out a credit, and the lord’s son a disgrace, to society” (The Critical Review 33 [September 1801]: 113, cited Lucas, p. 423). The novels of Bage and Holcroft show similar tendencies to champion heroes of modest origins (or who appear as such). Modern Philosophers, in addition to idealizing Britain as the land of real religious and political tolerance toward dissenters, tends to imply that females have particular knowledge made through affective sensibility: although good young women in the novel are rewarded with marriage, the happiest woman is the unmarried older one. Oddly similar to Hays’s tendency in Emma Courtney and Victim of Prejudice to glorify affect as a special mode of knowledge appertaining to female philosophers, Hamilton’s novel shows feminine sympathy with distress as a real power and a sign of female virtue. The work of more circumspect women writers is not simply 6

See for example, The Critical Review 4 (1805): 219–21.


Romantic Border Crossings

“opposite” from Hays (despite Hamilton’s attack on Hays via Bridgetina), but rather revises Hays’s “difference feminism” into a more conventional, bourgeois position of female exemplarity. Lloyd’s novel also implies that women may have a particular gift for knowledge through suffering, but more interestingly, his novel works to appropriate that knowledge for male-poet figures. Suffering becomes a mode to knowledge, a powerful bonding agent between male subjects, and the locus through which extra-familial relationships are experienced. Rather than arguing either that Opie’s Adeline Mowbray or Hamilton’s Modern Philosophers represent reactionary and bourgeois female-authored works (Spender, Spencer) or that alternatively, either is a palimpsest using a conservative moral to mask more radical tendencies (Mellor, Claudia Johnson, Claire Grogan), works like Adeline Mowbray and Modern Philosophers ought to be read as part of an extended continuum from the more radical positions of Mary Hays to distinctly reformist but conciliatory positions. Lloyd’s novel is more reactionary in its representation of female subjectivity which warns of the slippery slope from female feeling to a sexual fall, but more interesting in its appropriation of sensibility and the Christian-sublime for masculine subjects. Lucas’s Infernal Quixote associates modest femininity with the forces ranged against “new philosophy,” but likewise traces the bildung of several male characters into model Christians and British citizens through common sense and rational argument. If we read Opie as closer to Hays in her concern to revise and evaluate the positions of Godwin, Wollstonecraft, Holcroft, and other of her associates (as many critics have begun to do), we may also read Hamilton as attempting more than a vindictive skewering of her former friend, Hays, despite her satirical portrayal in Modern Philosophers of “Bridgetina Botherim” the philosophess. Lucas stands as the furthest out on the continuum, like Lloyd powerfully involved with Christian rebuttals to apparently “radical ideas,” but glorifying a level of sensibility between men that would seem suspect to some loyalist writers. Without minimizing the real difference between the radical reformist tendencies of work produced by the Wollstonecraft-Godwin circle and novels by Lloyd, Opie, Lucas, and Hamilton, these works do bear a complex relationship to the work of their more radical predecessors and (in some cases) former friends. III—Female Chastity in Memoirs of Modern Philosophers and The Infernal Quixote A concern with female chastity and the dangers posed for young women by the “new philosophy” is a common thread through many so-called anti-Jacobin novels, and often held up as an identifying issue. Hamilton’s Modern Philosophers and Lucas’s Infernal Quixote stand in their treatment of the problem of the fallen woman as examples of the complexity of some putative anti-Jacobin novels. Both novels contain a narrative tale of a virtuous and respectable middling girl lead astray by a libertine masquerading as a “modern philosopher.” In The Infernal Quixote the beautiful but poor Emily Bellaire is convinced by James Maurader’s citation of French philosophy and Godwin’s Political Justice to elope with him without the benefit of marriage. Modern Philosophers details the story of Julia Delmond’s

Rethinking the Terms of English Jacobinism


seduction by a French hairdresser, Vallaton, posing as a philosopher, who likewise uses Rousseau and Godwin for his own purposes. In The Infernal Quixote, Emily escapes from her keeper and is reunited with her virtuous (and more beautiful) sister, eventually marrying the reformed Mr. Rattle and reentering society. Rattle and his reformed philosopher friend, Mr. Harrety, discover her living in seclusion with a clergyman’s family. Debating with Harrety the proper relation of nature and art, Emily argues that art can properly embellish and improve nature, to which Harrety replies: “Art ought to be to Nature, what proper learning is to the mind—what moderate exercise is to the body. Art should make Nature useful; but when it tries to make it beautiful, it becomes a sweet that … soon cloys, and ever after disgusts. When, upon a flat ground, I proceed along a serpentine path, my reason condemns the winding of the way, though it may be the line of beauty; but, if the road winds up a hill, the small increase of distance is amply compensated, by making the ascent less steep, and use and beauty are united. I might carry my simile to the fair sex, in whom, … one useful accomplishment outweighs a thousand of the tricks of fashion.” “The knowledge of a pudding or a pie—” said Emily. “Is as much superior, Ma’am, to the whirling of a cymbal, or gabbling in a foreign tongue, as—” “I am happy,” replied Emily with a smile, “to hear you say so, for these former accomplishments I have lately learned, and the latter I have also lost….” (309).

Having learned to value “nature” over “art” and firmly associating “artfulness” with radical politics, Emily marries Rattle the following month. Through her reformation, her new value for making puddings, and her marriage, Emily appears to have completely atoned for her sexual fall and her months of living openly as Marauder’s mistress in the world of this novel. Internal reformation revealed through a new interest in baking is common to both Modern Philosophers and The Infernal Quixote, but Lucas goes beyond most loyalist and evangelical fiction in permitting his heroine not only to survive her fall, but to make a respectable marriage and reenter society. The presumption of natural physical differences between men and women runs through both the radical, proto-feminist writing of Wollstonecraft and Hays and also the more constrained work of Alderson Opie and Hamilton. Where Hays and Wollstonecraft worked hard to redefine female virtue as more than physical virginity, Hamilton largely accepts this definition. But she shifts attention to the power of feminine sympathy, which enables the effective charity of Mrs. Fielding and Harriet Orwell, through whom most of the characters are eventually made happy in Modern Philosophers. Hamilton’s position on the appropriate consequences of female unchastity has been cited by Claire Grogan as situating her work more complexly than the tag “anti-Jacobin” adequately represents. In particular, Grogan argues that compared to other anti-Jacobins, Hamilton “takes a more tolerant position over the question of sexual indiscretions” (17): For Loyalist writers such as Jane West transgressions of a sexually and hence political nature are irreversible—the woman must die in ignominy. Hamilton, however, toys with various schemes for reintroducing the repentant Julia into society. Social pressures, however, prove too problematic and important to be ignored or sidestepped by even one fallen individual.


Romantic Border Crossings … Somewhat reluctantly, Hamilton concedes that transgressors must be punished to prevent other individuals from disregarding the law—both legal and social. (17–18)

The episode in which the disgraced and fallen Julia is discovered as a newly admitted resident of Mrs. Fielding’s Asylum of the Destitute (Hamilton, 374), includes the requisite story of Julia’s fall and her repentance of the errors which led to her seduction by the false philosopher, Vallaton. The scene is indeed, complex in its consideration and engages a number of positions on the part of different characters. Distinguishing which is Hamilton’s voice among her varied characters is perhaps less crucial than recognizing the complexity of discussion which engages overtly the specific questions surrounding the moral consequences not only of the woman’s fall, but also of her subsequent life and actions. Is greater or less evil done by hiding the fault and reinstating the woman in a more secluded social circle? Is true punishment that inflicted by external forces (legal courts, social ostracism) or by the internal forces of conscience, suffering, and expiation through good works? These were questions also overtly raised by works such as Mary Hays’s Victim of Prejudice (1799), in which a raped woman refuses to recognize her own moral status or identity as changed by her “fall,” and by Thomas Holcroft’s Bryan Perdue (1805) in which capital punishment is revealed as wholly inadequate to inflict true punishment and develop true repentance. Lucas’s meditation on the greater sin committed by the mother who throws her son’s mistress on the town without references and the “purse-proud” man who reveals another’s criminal past offers another parallel (339). In Hamilton’s novel, the virtuous and single Mrs. Fielding establishes the Asylum because: It was her opinion, that the support of reputation being found to be a strong additional motive to virtue, it ought not to be put out of the power of the unfortunate female, who, conscious of her error, is desirous to retrieve it by her after conduct. On this account, in the next conversation she held with Julia, she was led again to propose the plan she had suggested for her going first into the country, where she could enjoy all the privacy her circumstances required; and then removing to a situation, where the past incidents of her life might remain for ever buried in oblivion. (371–2)

That Hamilton’s novel takes these issues seriously enough to discuss them at length is very much in the spirit of Jacobin and dissenting self-examination as a tool for social-critique. There is an overt echo here of Wollstonecraft’s argument in Vindication of the Rights of Woman and in Wrongs of Woman that making a fault in sexual chastity irrecoverable only leads women into greater vice: [H]ighly as I respect marriage, as the foundation of almost every social virtue, I cannot avoid feeling the most lively compassion for those unfortunate females who are broken off from society, and by one error torn from all those affections and relationships that improve the heart and mind. It does not frequently even deserve the name of error; for many innocent girls become the dupes of a sincere, affectionate heart, and still more are, as it may emphatically be termed, ruined before they know the difference between virtue and vice…. Asylums and Magdalens are not the proper remedies for these abuses. It is justice, not charity, that is wanting in the world! (190)

Rethinking the Terms of English Jacobinism


However, Hamilton’s privatization of the “fault”, that as a motive to virtue, “reputation” ought not to be “put out of the power” of the sinner is quite different from the implications of Wollstonecraft’s and Hays’s arguments that female virtue has been diminished by being reduced to a sort of physical property disengaged from the woman’s volition. By locating the true source of reform and virtue within the conscience of the individual, Hamilton’s novel is in line with a common dissenting tradition of self-examination, but it also depoliticizes the issue of female seduction and sexual action. An extended conversation with the idealized Mrs. Fielding engages the possibilities and potential usefulness of re-establishing Julia in a social world far removed from her origins, where her history will not be known and where as a result, she would have a chance to establish herself as the respectable and virtuous woman she has become with experience. Curiously, not only does Julia herself argue against this scheme as a kind of false self-representation and pride, but her physical pregnancy also works against this plan. Mrs. Fielding and others are oddly surprised by the consequences of Julia’s illicit liaison, and seem to see this as a more difficult problem than masking an affair with no material and visible results. Perhaps significantly Hays’s Mary Raymond in Victim and Lucas’s Emily in Quixote both avoid pregnancy, simplifying the issue of reintegration. What is curious about Mrs. Fielding’s plan is that it works quite explicitly against the association of sexual transgression with a determinative fall. If a fallen daughter who remains infertile can be reintroduced and imposed on society so long as she is removed from the particular society in which she first fell, then the “fall” itself appears to be contingent rather than absolute. More curiously, this contingency appears to be at least provisionally countenanced by Hamilton’s narrative. Julia argues that: low as I am sunk in my own estimation, sensible as I am of the faultiness of my conduct, and humbled under the consciousness, as my soul truly is, I must shrink still lower than I am, not to feel myself degraded by the practice of any species of imposture. Whether the unrelenting laws of society with regard to our sex are founded in injustice or otherwise, is not for me to determine. … But first to set them at defiance, and then under false pretences to shrink from the penalty, what is this but to add hypocrisy to presumption—to add an unjustifiable (because deliberate) crime to an error, which perhaps may receive some mitigation on the score of human frailty? …. (375)

To which Mrs. Fielding replies: On unsullied character, not only our reception in society, but our usefulness in life depends. The woman who is suspected of having made a false step, but who, by assiduously concealing it, shews some regard for reputation, will ever meet with more indulgence from the world than she, who by open[ly] avowing it, seems to brave its censures. In the latter case she becomes a mark for public scorn to point the finger at…. Should her future conduct be ever so circumspect, nay should it be ever so exemplary over those of her own sex who are most inclined to applaud it, the fetters of public opinion will still exert a restraining influence, and very few will dare to own her. Men alone will presume to express for her any friendship; and thus thrown upon the protection of men, while her heart beats indignant at what she considers an injustice, who can answer for the consequences? (375–6)


Romantic Border Crossings

Here Mrs. Fielding sees Julia’s rectitude and sense of her own guilt as evidence of her “true” or internal virtue, stating, “I honour you in my heart for your noble sentiments” (375). Admired here for her new allegiance to the absolute match between appearances and reality, Julia’s absolutism is oddly consonant with the position of Mary Raymond in Victim of Prejudice, who regrets having allowed herself to be known by a different name on her first escape to the country after her rape. The tension between the “true” nature of Julia—that of the truly virtuous woman who refuses to hide her faults even though the punishment she will suffer is incommensurate with her fault—and the sympathetic and rational argument for hiding Julia’s condition is an odd double moment in Hamilton’s narrative before Julia conveniently dies, resolving the problem that she represents. As an exemplar of the novel’s ideal mature woman, Mrs. Fielding is herself a complex figure. Mrs. Fielding is a wealthy and unmarried older woman (Mrs. is a courtesy title due her age; in her youth she was “Miss Fielding”). She benevolently spends her money on an asylum she founds for fallen women and on ensuring the happiness of the son of her former admirer, Mr. Sydney. Although Mrs. Fielding remains unmarried and childless—and thus unconventionally feminine, she stands as the example of ideal mature womanhood in the book.7 As Mr. Sydney writes to Henry, “long may she continue to bless the world by her example; and to furnish it with a living instance of the efficacy of fixed and steady principles of virtue!” (253). Thus, Mrs. Fielding’s later pronouncements on the general good to be served in reconciling fallen women to society by hiding their fault and allowing them to re-enter social intercourse at some distance from the site of their fall bear particular weight in the world of the novel. If Mrs. Fielding is an “example” of the power of “fixed and steady principles of virtue,” then her argument to Julia and her willingness to aid her to begin again stands as an example that points beyond the novel to the reader as well. In their concern to lead readers to read critically, to examine the tendencies as well as the overt messages of narratives, and to scrutinize the consequences of one’s actions on others and on the social world, Modern Philosophers and The Infernal Quixote continue the project of the radical fictions they ostensibly critique. If rather than reading novels like these through a predetermined lens of “anti-Jacobinism” we read attentively for how these novels use political romance and parody, how they engage larger political and social debates, and how they render both parodic and stock figures, many of them will repay the effort. In understanding reformist narrative fictions as running across the usual dichotomy between “Jacobin” and “antiJacobin,” we stand to develop a richer sense of how narrative fiction contributed to constructing an engaged and engaging public sphere of ideological debate from 1790 to 1832. These narratives represent a unique moment in British national discourse and ought not be flattened out by overly simplified categorization, even if such categories were part of the ideological work of contemporary publications such as The Anti-Jacobin and The Unsex’d Females.

7 See Janice Thaddeus, “Elizabeth Hamilton’s Modern Philosophers and the Uncertainties of Satire” 393–418.

Chapter 8

Rhyming Reason: The Poetry of Early Psychiatrists, 1790–1830 Michelle Faubert University of Manitoba

In recent years, the focus of Romantic studies has grown exponentially with the introduction of interdisciplinary projects that study the relationship between poetry and the great leaps in knowledge then taking place in the field of science, particularly psychiatry. Most notably, Frederick Burwick’s Poetic Madness and the Romantic Imagination (1996) and Alan Richardson’s British Romanticism and the Science of the Mind (2001) have explored how major Romantic figures responded to the increasing interest in madness that attended the rise of psychiatry, and how they illustrated their knowledge of early neuroscience, respectively. Such studies invite us to consider that the spheres of influence between literature and mental medicine were not as neatly demarcated as we had formerly thought they were, or even, perhaps, as they are today. As of yet, however, we have only studied this influence as a unidirectional phenomenon; no one, to my knowledge, has produced an in-depth study of how the medical world responded to the literary. Yet such an exploration provides a valuable new perspective, for it presents poetry not as a by-product or distillation of other presumably more primary cultural developments, but as a “firstmover,” if you will, of cultural change in itself. The perfect place to begin the study of the medical world’s response to poetry in the Romantic period is with poetry written by early psychiatrists.1 As Hunter and Macalpine note in their monumental work, Three Hundred Years of Psychiatry, 1535–1860 (1963), “It is a curious fact how many psychiatric physicians of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries devoted leisure to writing verse, most of it minor and long forgotten” (710). But I am not content to let this fact remain merely 1 The issue of the proper terminology for early doctors of the mind is highly contentious. Porter explains that the word “psychiatry” was used by the late eighteenth century (ix), and Thiher confirms that the German Dr. J.C. Reil (1759–1813) gave us the word “psychiatry” (167)—although it seems rather unlikely that the German document in which this information appeared would so immediately become known to, and its contents and terminology so quickly adopted by, British medical professionals. In his recent A Historical Dictionary of Psychiatry (2005), Edward Shorter confirms that the term only originated in 1808 with Reil’s work, and adds, “The use of the new term spread rather slowly,” even in Germany (232–3). Thus, it seems safe to say that the doctors of the mind were not called “psychiatrists” in England. I use the terms “psychiatry” and “psychiatrist” for convenience’s sake, but with full awareness of the anachronism of doing so.


Romantic Border Crossings

“curious” and unexplored, nor to let their verse remain forgotten. By studying the poetry of the best-known early psychiatrists, we may learn much about how science and poetry related and, in particular, if they were perceived as opposing kinds of knowledge by representatives of both fields. In this essay, I explore such questions as the following: Did these doctors successfully integrate their identities of poet and scientist? Or did they attempt to subvert their identities as medical men in their constructions of their poetic voices? These earliest of psychiatrists had a unique opportunity to reform the relationship between one branch of the scientific and literary disciplines. Since psychiatry—which we recognize now as a science—was only in its nascent stages at the start of the nineteenth century, and since it was then called “moral philosophy”—a name that implies its close link to a major endeavor of the humanities—we may surmise that the division between the two fields was not yet complete. Thus, we might expect that these writers found novel ways to express their dual identities as scientist and poet, as did Erasmus Darwin, the asylum-owner and famous poet of the late eighteenth century. Darwin’s remarkable success in combining his interests has been long noted, beginning with comments made in his own time. Fellow-poet and collaborator Anna Seward remarked that Darwin’s “‘the Botanic Garden forms a new class of poetry’ in its ‘adapting the past and recent discoveries in natural and scientific philosophy to the purposes of heroic verse’” (Harris xi). Such comments as these show that Darwin achieved his poetic goal, as outlined in the “Advertisement” of The Botanic Garden (1791): “The general design is … to inlist Imagination under the banner of Science” (v). While longer studies of the poetry of Beddoes, Trotter, Bakewell, and Brown are needed, the present study focuses specifically on the poetry of Bakewell and Brown.2 I will show how these psychiatric physicians contributed to the “new class of poetry” that Seward identified by blending their roles as men of letters and men of science. An exploration of how canonical writers might have received this “new class of poetry” will introduce this unfamiliar topic. For example, how did Wordsworth and Coleridge perceive the intersection of poetry and science? These poets are often credited with defining the style and goals of Romanticism through their publication of the Lyrical Ballads (1798). More specifically, Wordsworth’s “Preface” to the Lyrical Ballads (as given here, revised and expanded in 1802; first published in 1800) has been called the manifesto of Romanticism, while Coleridge’s famous retort to this work in the Biographia Literaria (1817) delineates the latter poet’s early and mature vision. Intriguingly, these texts also provide the clearest outline of the two poets’ perspectives on science and poetry. Wordsworth combines his views on the matter with his very definition of what constitutes a poet. In his extended reply to his own question, “What is a poet?” Wordsworth explains,

2 I also limit myself to a discussion of early psychiatrists in this study, partly because this narrow field of medicine reflects well the undeniably psychological nature of canonical Romantic poetry and addresses one of its great themes, insanity. Certainly, though, the present line of inquiry must lead to more research into the intersection between science and the poetry of general physicians, such as Thomas Lovell Beddoes, not to mention the writing of women who were well-versed in scientific subjects, such as Joanna Baillie.

Rhyming Reason: The Poetry of Early Psychiatrists, 1790–1830


The Poet writes under one restriction only, namely, that of the necessity of giving immediate pleasure to a human Being possessed of that information which may be expected from him, not as a lawyer, a physician, a mariner, an astronomer or a natural philosopher, but as a Man. (139)

Here, Wordsworth seems to assert that the reader should not expect the poet to “give pleasure,” to poeticize, about anything remotely scientific, for his realm of expertise involves only what is most basic to human existence, such as the realm of emotions. However, Wordsworth expands our notion of what kinds of knowledge, and therefore writing, “gives pleasure” in the passage that immediately follows: We have no knowledge, that is, no general principles drawn from the contemplation of particular facts, but what has been built up by pleasure, and exists in us by pleasure alone. The Man of Science … know[s] and feel[s] this. … [H]e feels that his knowledge is pleasure; and where he has no pleasure he has no knowledge. (140)

Notably, though, Wordsworth envisions the conflation of science and poetry as guided by the ready-made poet, not initiated by the man of science. He describes a brave new world—ambiguous though he is about its details—in which [t]he remotest discoveries of the Chemist, the Botanist, or Mineralogist, will be as proper objects of the Poet’s art. … If the time should ever come when what is now called Science, thus familiarized to men, shall be ready to put on, as it were, a form of flesh and blood, the Poet will lend his divine spirit to aid the transfiguration, and will welcome the Being thus produced, as a dear and genuine inmate of the household of man. (141)

But Coleridge seems to refute the possibility of this new type of poetry altogether when he asserts, in Chapter 14 of Biographia Literaria, that A poem is that species of composition, which is opposed to works of science, by proposing for its immediate object pleasure, not truth; and from all other species (having this object in common with it) it is discriminated by proposing to itself such delight from the whole, as is compatible with a distinct gratification from each component part. (Coleridge’s emphasis, 13)

According to Coleridge, poetry and science can never blend perfectly because the immediate object of the former is pleasure and the latter is mostly concerned with the relation of truth. Thus, the initial definers of the goals and style of Romantic poetry held contradictory views about scientific poetry. Coleridge suggests that such work is an impossibility, while Wordsworth admits its potential, even as he defines its limitations. Both these commentaries reveal, however, the poets’ common response to scientific poetry: they seem to be trying to protect their field from encroachers, which may itself show the influence and importance of poetry by early psychiatrists in the Romantic period. For our purposes, this possibility also indicates that we must ourselves be the judges of whether or not poetry by early doctors of the mind successfully integrates the fields of literature and science. What, then, are the features of the “new class of poetry” Seward identifies in the Romantic period, and how did poetic psychiatrists adapt “the past and recent


Romantic Border Crossings

discoveries in natural and scientific philosophy to the purposes of … verse?” Some practitioners of mental medicine emphasized their identities as men of science in order to sell their poetry, or so it appears in Thomas Bakewell’s The Moorland Bard (1807). Interestingly, Bakewell is unique among the panoply of doctors that I consider in this study, as he is the only one who had no formal medical training, even though he wrote a popular medical treatise, A Domestic Guide, in cases of Insanity (1805). In fact, as he points out several times in his book of poetry, The Moorland Bard; or, Poetical Recollections of a Weaver, in the Moorlands of Staffordshire, he was a weaver by profession. The question of the writer’s reputation and authority, his claim to expertise—both medical and poetic—seems to have concerned Bakewell greatly and guided some of his most notable authorial decisions. In his preface to The Moorland Bard, the asylum-owner presents himself as a psychiatric expert and his frequent references to his medical knowledge appear to be a way of giving the weight of scientific authority to his poetic voice. He notes that the Domestic Guide was extraordinarily well received, so much so that its success inspired him to desire “public approbation” for his poems, which he tells us he would not otherwise seek. With respect to the poetry, he combines his roles as medical writer and poet so completely at times that it is difficult to distinguish which identity he wishes to highlight. For example, “Lines Written on a Blank Leaf of My Domestic Guide, and Presented to a Young Lady” reads like an advertisement for his medical treatise; simultaneously, Bakewell establishes the authority of his poetic voice through the specialized topic. The second volume of poetry in the book includes a similar poem, entitled “Epistle to a Lady, Who Had Requested Some Maxims of Health.” In this poem, the longest in The Moorland Bard, Bakewell relies upon the success of his medical treatise to establish the authority of his voice, which is especially necessary because his tone is didactic: be not too intense in care; Of great anxiety beware; But lively, temperate, and mild; Pray don’t indulge those passions wild. (35–8)

Still another poem in the second volume follows the same pattern of medical advice presented to a lady in the form of a versified letter. Encumbered by the lengthy title, “Epistle to a Lady; Occasioned by Her Advertisement, in a London Paper, for Country Lodgings in a Family Where There Were None but Females, Complaining at the Same Time of Frequent Depression of Spirits,” the poem offers the argument that members of each sex require the company of the opposite sex in order to avoid depression. Bakewell uses his own experience as evidence: “With ladies, I never am dull,/ Wit and mirth then so flow to my scull” (19–20). The poet then makes direct reference to his job as a practitioner of mental medicine when he writes, “I heal disease of the mind/ With me you would constantly find,/ A balm for the vapours and spleen,/ If e’er in my presence they’re seen” (13–16). Evidently, Dr Don Juan was prepared to make more than poetic use of his medical knowledge. These direct references to his experience as a practitioner of mental medicine load with authority Bakewell’s allusions to the world of insanity. Several poems,

Rhyming Reason: The Poetry of Early Psychiatrists, 1790–1830


such as “Monkhouse Hill” and “Drunkenness Not Distinguishable from Madness,” explore the topic of madness, but Bakewell relies on the force of his medical authority most in “Lines, Written After a Dispute Respecting the Insanity of the Man Who Made the Attempt on the Life of the Sovereign.” Bakewell reveals in a single, long footnote to the poem that he leans heavily on his experience as an asylumowner and why. In “Lines, Written After a Dispute,” Bakewell defends an unpopular position, specifically that the insane should be held accountable for their crimes and even punished with the death penalty when appropriate. He writes in response to the attempt on George III’s life by James Hadfield at Drury Lane Theatre on May 15th, 1800. Notably, the Act for the Safe Keeping of Insane Persons Charged with Offences passed in the same year (Porter 116), which shows that, even while the events in question were recent and the attendant emotions were running as high as could be expected, English adjudicators maintained that the insane were not fully accountable for their actions, no matter how heinous. If the passing of this act reflects popular perception, then it is clear why Bakewell grounded his poetic argument in his medical authority in “Lines, Written After a Dispute.” He needed to establish his dissent with his opponents’ position as a product of his greater knowledge, rather than proof of his greater cruelty. With what reads like false modesty, Bakewell writes in the footnote, “I may be excused for intruding my opinion on this subject, having had some experience among insane people, and having given the subject due consideration” (138). In the body of the poem, the medical knowledge to which he proudly refers—and a good touch of blind patriotism—moves him to write some laughably naïve lines: The devil ne’er could entrance gain, To instigate a healthy brain, To such a vile and dreadful thing, As injuring our beloved King. (3–6)

However, what is truly surprising in this poem is not Bakewell’s naïveté, but his steadfast refusal to draw a connection between the insanity of the King’s attacker and that of the King himself, an obvious connection that doubtlessly contributed to the sympathy shown to Hadfield, who escaped the gallows thanks to the Act of 1800, as did all insane criminals after him. Bakewell argues that Hadfield’s insanity is indisputable because he could attempt to kill the King and no sane person would be capable of doing so. He can admit as much and still argue that Hadfield should get the death penalty because he believed that the insane were responsible for their actions, an unusual position that he based on information gathered during extended experience with them. He maintains, again in his long footnote, For of ten maniacs confined in chains, nine shall have a degree of reason, at times, and on some occasions…. Insanity, is scarcely ever a total absence or alienation of the reasoning faculty; but the confusion or derangement of it. (134)

Here Bakewell’s experience as an asylum owner is integral to the poem because the unpopular and potentially incendiary claim that forms the poetic argument requires the authority of the unique knowledge he has gained as a practitioner of mental


Romantic Border Crossings

medicine. He uses audience expectations to his advantage in this way; his readers— especially those familiar with his Domestic Guide—expect that he may have insight into the condition of insanity to which we are not privy and, therefore, we give him the opportunity to argue a position that would otherwise seem untenable. Bakewell’s references to his medical practice and knowledge serve the purpose of establishing his authorial identity as a doctor-poet, but he also uses another, lessexpected method to establish this identity: he compares himself to other doctor-poets in his verse. In the theatrical final poem of The Moorland Bard, called “The Author’s Dream,” Bakewell subtly claims his right to a literary identity by hinting that the field of psychiatrist-poets is already established, even as he humorously excuses himself from the contest: at the shop door, in steps a bold stranger, and stalks up to me like any free ranger. ‘If you are the poet,’ says he, ‘you must go ‘before the Reviewers:’ – I answer’d, ‘O no!’ My hands they did shake, and my legs they did totter, I trembled as much as that poor honest Trotter. (5–10)

In these lines, Bakewell certainly refers to Thomas Trotter, another psychiatristpoet whom I have mentioned; indeed, according to my research, no other writer by the name of Trotter published poetry at this time. Moreover, a connection exists between Trotter and another poet with whom Bakewell seems preoccupied in these volumes. In “The Weaver’s Request” and “Epistle to a Neighbouring Gentleman,” the first and third poems of The Moorland Bard, Bakewell makes pointed references to the so-called “cobbler-poet,” Robert Bloomfield, references that indicate his familiarity with and interest in Bloomfield’s poetry. Moreover, Bloomfield’s volume, The Farmer’s Boy: A Rural Poem, must have attracted Bakewell’s notice because of its stupendous success: it went into nine editions by 1806, a year before The Moorland Bard was published. This surprisingly popular book of poems further establishes the probability that Bakewell refers to our own Thomas Trotter in “The Author’s Dream” because, if Bakewell was familiar with The Farmer’s Boy, he was also familiar with “The Snowstorm,” a poem by Trotter that appeared in the volume. In his reference to another psychiatrist-poet, Bakewell may indicate that he wrote within, or in response to, a type of poetry in the Romantic period hitherto unrecognized by critics today. Was there an identifiable group of doctor-poets—or even, more specifically, psychiatrist-poets—like the poets of the Cockney School? In similar manner to John Keats and Leigh Hunt, these doctor-poets may not have identified themselves as such, but occasionally, such as in the present case, they may have claimed their place in the “doctor-poet school” in an effort to give their unusual type of verse the legitimacy offered by other published work of a similar nature. Through such references, and through references to his medical knowledge and practice, Bakewell boldly presents the authorial identity of the psychiatrist-poet in The Moorland Bard. Bakewell’s claims to the identity of psychiatrist-poet are noteworthy, but Thomas Brown, another psychiatric physician, challenges most effectively Erasmus Darwin’s claim to the title of most successful integrator of science and poetry. Some

Rhyming Reason: The Poetry of Early Psychiatrists, 1790–1830


may claim that Brown does not incorporate science into his poetry in a marked way, for he does not discuss overtly such topics as evolution, genetics, and reproduction, as does Darwin in The Botanic Garden and The Temple of Nature (1803); nor does he discuss such topics as insanity and psychiatric practice, as Bakewell does in The Moorland Bard. However, I contend that Brown, in fact, surpasses Darwin in this contest because he applies the essence of his scientific theorizing to his understanding and creation of poetry, instead of simply including scientific topics as subject matter, which I consider to be a shallower method of uniting the fields of science and poetry. A close look at Brown’s preface to The Paradise of Coquettes, A Poem in Nine Parts (1814) will prepare us to notice how Brown incorporates his knowledge of the human mind in his work, but, in order to appreciate the effect Brown might have had on his fellow doctors and poets with his novel approach to literature, we should first consider his psychiatric theory at greater length. A professor of moral philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, Brown insisted that the mind is not just the brain, but an amalgamation of “sensations, perceptions, thoughts, and feelings” and he went onto argue that they are “amenable to scientific study without the need to question the nature of mind” (Hunter 752). Hunter and Macalpine call Brown’s theory of the mind one of the first genuine examples of psychology. It appeared most notably in Brown’s amazingly successful treatise, Lectures on the Philosophy of the Human Mind (1820), which went into nineteen editions by 1851. However, many people challenged Brown’s theories because they “left little room for the play of free will and self-determination” (Hunter 753). Certainly, some of his assertions proclaim ominously against our prized notions of moral and emotional liberty; Brown asserted that “the phenomena of the mind … are obviously successive,” and wrote, “There is not a single pleasure, or pain, or thought, or emotion, that may not—by the influence of that associating principle … —be so connected with other pleasures, or pains, or thoughts, or emotions, as to form with them, for ever after, an union the most intimate” (Brown’s emphasis, 754). Brown’s work was both widely known and widely abhorred. Significantly, he also promulgated his theories of the mind in a poetic context. Brown’s theme in the preface to The Paradise of Coquettes involves the role of humour in poetry. Brown describes the psychological consequences that poetry can have on its audience as “that happy eloquence of verse, which in conveying to us moral truths, has impressed them on our hearts, in a manner that made it impossible for us to forget them” (xxxiv). Anticipating Shelley’s famous claim in the final sentence of “A Defence of Poetry,” in which Shelley calls poets “the unacknowledged legislators of the world” (140), Brown goes on to assert that the “bard” in his day “is a legislator still, fashioning our conduct, even when we are not conscious that we are obeying him” (xxxv). In other words, the poet can brainwash his audience into accepting his moral lessons through the distinct charm and memorable qualities of verse. Brown adds, “The great evil of our serious poetry” is that “by the very circumstance of its stately gravity, it has necessarily a didactic air, which lessens the force of its persuasion. It is an original sin of our nature, to be not very willing to admit reproof,” while, he adds, “a playful hand” can do much more to combat vice in its audience (xxxvi–vii). He implies that his understanding of human nature’s propensity to accept the advice of a jocular master has inspired him to write a humorous poem, the


Romantic Border Crossings

title of which—The Paradise of Coquettes—is a good indicator of its lighthearted tone. Through his poetry, Brown attempts to change his audience’s moral views and, ultimately, to alter their behavior, all without their knowledge that these internal changes are taking place. Brown’s poetic theorizing in this section of the preface blends perfectly his roles of psychiatric physician and poet. Significantly, the poetic theory that he presents here is characterized by the same attitude toward free will that resulted in an outcry against some of the major tenets of Lectures on the Philosophy of the Human Mind. And, frighteningly, Brown illustrates the potential for success of his cunningly humorous verse in the undeniably funny preface. For example, he praises the ballad form on the score that it presents action immediately, unlike the epic, “Which,” he laments, “often … prepares the reader so fully for what is about to be presented to him, that the picture itself is in a great measure anticipated, and … seems scarcely to have the charm of novelty” (x). He goes on to surmise, How dull would a tragedy appear, if, at every shifting of the scene, during its first representation, some very kind friend at our elbow were to be unwearied in telling us,— Now the Princess is gone, to prepare the poison, which is afterwards to be slily mixed in the bowl for her rival,—Now the Prince is to discover, that he has been made the instrument of presenting death to his mistress, and is to swallow what remains in the goblet. (x–xi)

Brown’s talent for humorous writing is palpable. However, when one sees that he seriously intends to inculcate his own notions of right and wrong in his reader, one’s impulse to laugh subsides. Still, it is very difficult to resist him, and perhaps we should be thankful that most other poetic psychiatrists did not amalgamate their roles as scientist and poet quite so successfully. The study of early psychiatrists’ poetry can provide clues into a type of poetry and a loosely organized group of poets of which critics have not been aware before now. At least one other psychiatrist-poet gestures at the possible existence of this genre of poetry. Thomas Beddoes—author of the highly influential medical treatise, Hygëia (1803) and father of the more famous physician-poet, Thomas Lovell Beddoes—indicates that he writes in conscious awareness of and perhaps in response to other psychiatrist-poets in his preface to his long poem, Alexander’s Expedition (1792). Beddoes compares his verse to that of the era’s most famous poet-physician, Erasmus Darwin, by insisting that he did not copy the former poet’s work, and by praising the asylum-owner and “author of the Botanic Garden” for having a “store of images and a command of language, sufficient to constitute a poet” (iv). Indeed, in Beddoes’ repeated references to the poetry of Erasmus Darwin and Bakewell’s comparison of himself to “that poor honest Trotter,” these poets indicate that they respond to the work of other psychiatrist-poets and suggest the possibility that they contributed to a tradition of poetry by early psychiatrists. Further work on such a minor tradition within the larger frame of Romanticism can offer valuable insights into the ongoing debate about what constitutes the Romantic canon and might also indicate that the psychiatric focus of Romantic poetry, particularly that of the firstgeneration Romantics, was partially influenced by an established tradition of poetry by psychiatrists, and not just by contemporary developments in psychiatry alone,

Rhyming Reason: The Poetry of Early Psychiatrists, 1790–1830


as has been assumed until now. After all, to return to our discussion of the poets of the Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth complained that “he suffered from an ‘injurious influence from the dazzling manner of Darwin,’” and Coleridge once called Darwin “the first literary character in Europe” (Harris xiii), even if he did recant the praise in Biographia Literaria, where he claims that he “remember[s] to have compared Darwin’s work to the Russian palace of ice, glittering, cold and transitory” (20). Wordsworth and Coleridge’s fascination with Darwin may have extended to the work of other psychiatrist-poets, who also could have impressed these giants of the Romantic canon. In other words, Wordsworth and Coleridge’s exchange about scientific poetry, as outlined above, may have been more than the product of abstract reflection about the possibilities of poetry; it may reveal their reactions to the characteristics of a new type of poetry already in existence. Finally, to answer the question concerning the ability of this “new class of poetry” to blend psychiatry and verse, we must first arrive at a method of judging poetic success. Some would claim that Coleridge delineates a foolproof method of judging poetic success in Biographia Literaria when he maintains that Wordsworth’s poems had been established as valuable by history; with passion, he asserts, “Had Mr. Wordsworth’s poems been the silly, the childish things, which they were for a long time described as being … they must have sunk at once, a dead weight, into the slough of oblivion” (9). If judged thus, our psychiatrist-poets’ obscure and hopelessly antiquated verse must be judged to be total failures. However, assessing verse in this way is tantamount to disregarding it on the uninformed assumption that it has nothing to offer, a practice that must limit drastically our knowledge about Romanticism. After all, if it were not for the pioneering work of such critics as Stuart Curran to establish the worth of poetry by women in the Romantic period, we might still remain largely ignorant about a body of work that is now recognized widely to be vital to literary studies. Even beyond this consideration we must answer in the positive to the question concerning the relative success of this verse to blend science and poetry. Indeed, all of the poets I have mentioned are successful to various extents in blending science and poetry in that aspects of their psychiatric work are evident in and sometimes necessary to their verse. I hope I have proven this point in my study of Thomases Bakewell and Brown, but it is also true of Thomases Trotter and Beddoes’ work, amongst that of others. By studying the links between their poetry and medical prose, we gain insights into how experts in the medical realm understood the purpose of verse in relation to early mental science, as well as the relationship between the authorial identity of the medical writer and that of the poet. All of these discoveries can provide more information about the mutually influential relationship between the fields of psychiatric medicine and literature in the Romantic period.

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Chapter 9

Genre Crossings: Gothic Novels and the Borders of History Bronwyn Rivers Independent Scholar

In the eighteenth century, the borders between realist fiction and historical writing were hazy, at best. Critics have documented well the close relationship between fiction and history at this time, a relationship that was sometimes fraught with conflict.1 The question of the relative nature of the two genres has been described as “an ever-present preoccupation” of writers and readers of the early English novel, and “a key element” in the theory of the novel developed in the eighteenth century (Mayer 3, 4). One reason was that the novel then was not, of course, differentiated from historical writing to the same degree as today, an elision evidenced by the frequent claims of novels that they represented actual historical events.2 That such novels were read by an audience less practiced in the interpretation of fiction is indicated by the frequent acceptance of the common pretence that a novel was in fact a collection of evidence put together by a real-life editor.3 However, significant shifts in historiographical orthodoxy also contributed to the fraught relationship. During the eighteenth century there was an increasing appreciation of issues of truth in historical writing. At the beginning of the century the tradition of sweeping narratives of humanist history used for moral or practical instruction was still largely separated from the philological and antiquarian tradition of the sustained analysis of detail. Two important historical works of the later eighteenth century—David Hume’s History of England (1754–1762), and Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776–1788)—display the influence of the more precise antiquarian tradition. By the late century the once-conventional appearance of an imagined speech by a historical character, for example, disappeared from respectable history, as Everett Zimmerman points out (20). This issue of truth or fact in historical writing was played out not only in the practice of writing history, but also in the self-conscious relationship between historical and fictional writing. Both genres questioned the truth-status of events depicted in narrative and the degree to which they may be known. Lennard J. Davis has tracked 1 Book-length studies of this issue include: Braudy, Davis, Levine, Mayer and Zimmerman. 2 See Miller for an analysis of these claims. 3 For example, see Mayer (1, ff.) for a discussion of the way Robinson Crusoe was read as fact.


Romantic Border Crossings

awareness of the problematic relationship between fact and fiction in early novelists Defoe, Richardson and Fielding. Everett Zimmerman cites the novel’s simulation or parody of the documentary concerns of history as an example of this strain of questioning. He also explains how “Eighteenth-century novels explore the basis of narrative authority, raising questions about the evaluation of evidence contained in writing” (11). For example, “The novel exposed the limits of the verifiable and the inevitability of a narrative perspective (even in history) that is rooted in time, place, and individuality, not in abstract truth and universality” (Zimmerman 21). He argues that the eighteenth-century novel also “often displays prominently its narrative assimilation and meaningful ordering of the putative traces on which it founds itself, using such narrative display to foreground the common border that fiction and history share” (24). In turn, Leo Braudy argues that the novelist Fielding developed a fictional method expressly as a corrective to the epistemology of contemporary historical practice, one which showed his disapproval of the accumulation of factual detail, and his belief that empirical detail does not necessarily lead to truths about morality or human nature. During its founding moments, then, the novel manifests awareness of, and even commentary on, the slippery relationships between discourse, narrative, ontology and knowledge. The later, 1790s Gothic novel has not been firmly linked to this tradition of novelistic engagement with issues of historiography and epistemology, but to make such a link should not strain credibility. The Gothic is well established as a pervasive and influential genre. Michael Gamer has shown how the Gothic had a prime influence on the processes by which Romanticism emerged—and vice versa. He identifies the Gothic’s unstable aspect, its “ease of dispersal and ability not to stay within the confines of prose romance—its habit of collapsing disciplinary and social categories, however gendered or polarized” (Romanticism 4). Gothic also problematized cultural as well as generic boundaries, he argues, “embodying and calling attention to the conflict between critical and popular reading audiences at the turn of the nineteenth century” (Romanticism 23). What he terms “Romantic writing’s attraction to, and repulsion from, its Gothic relations” is highlighted by the fact that major Romantic writers simultaneously produced Gothic-influenced texts and anti-Gothic criticism (“Gothic Fictions” 94). Terry Castle identifies another kind of generic instability in her discussion of Radcliffe’s “sampling” of the poetic in The Mysteries of Udolpho. Castle argues that Radcliffe’s excerpts from Shakespeare and Milton invest the narrative with “a kind of supplemental ‘poetic’ authority” (“Introduction xiii”). They also call attention to generic boundaries, she argues, as “the sense of interrupted flow, of having to respond subliminally to constant changes in textual format, persists” and “the sense of formal instability is overpowering,” indeed, “The experience of cognitive dissonance may be frequent enough—and severe enough—to make us question at times whether we are reading a ‘novel’ at all” (“Introduction xiv”). In fact, a number of characteristics of 1790s Gothic novels suggest that, like the early realist novel, the Gothic genre may have a place in the tradition of novels that engage with historiography. Most simply, the Gothic novel of 1790s England is a genre fundamentally concerned with the past: these novels are historical fiction, with

Genre Crossings: Gothic Novels and the Borders of History


the majority set in a medieval or ‘Gothic’ past.4 Yet they have also been interpreted as offering commentary on the specific national past of England. Much has been written about the connection between the proliferation of Gothic novels in the 1790s and the French Revolution. The Marquis de Sade thought that Gothic effects were necessary in order to affect readers desensitized by the shocking events of the Revolution; other contemporary writers thought that the novels were themselves subversive. William Hazlitt wrote that Gothic novels gained at least part of their interest from “the tottering state of all old structures at the time” (Miles, “1790s” 43). The popularity of Gothic novels supposedly grew with anxieties about revolution in their readership. Anxiety in England about the French Revolution was itself closely connected to views of English history, specifically, the English Constitution. Robert Miles explains that until 1793 opinion about France was grouped around two poles: Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), and Tom Paine’s The Rights of Man (1791–1792) (Radcliffe 61, ff.). Burke saw the Constitution as a natural result of the Magna Carta, ideally left alone, whereas Paine saw the Magna Carta as a rogues’ charter, a subversion of Anglo-Saxon liberties. Paine argued that English people were therefore free to design a new one based on the rights of man, with France as a model. This constitutional debate lent particular political overtones to the word ‘Gothic’. As Miles says, Burke “turned the history of the Constitution into a kind of Gothic romance … one idealizing the Constitution’s cultural origins” (Radcliffe 67). In contrast, radicals attacked the Constitution as “a verbal Bastille, one concealing the oppressive realities of English life” (Radcliffe 67). Burke argued that aristocratic privileges such as manorial rights should be retained for, as Miles notes, “such Gothic ‘remains’ were the very source of English liberties”—but for radicals, English aristocrats were no different from French ones (Miles, Radcliffe 69). Gothic became overdetermined in this context, able to be interpreted in opposing ways, as Miles points out. Representations of an ideal chivalric society could be seen as conservative opposition to the French republican style. However Gothic novels also revealed the dark side of chivalry, with their salacious and plundering barons; to equate these with French aristocrats would have signalled a liberal position. As Miles sums up, “Representations of profligate European aristocrats or Inquisitional dungeons could be seen as patriotic British attacks on the lamentable state of manners and society across the channel; or they could be seen as coded assaults on aristocracy and institutional despotism everywhere” (Radcliffe 70–71). That is, the Gothic novel’s engagement with medieval society necessarily acquired, in the context of 1790s revolutionary anxiety and constitutional debate, political import closely connected to current wrangling about national history. However, these Gothic novels engage not only with history but also with more abstract issues of historiography. They thematize the problematic nature of knowledge in several ways. For example, the Gothic novel’s frequent suggestion that supernatural or fantastic events took place in specific historical settings not only 4 Even if anachronistic: Diane Long Hoeveler points out that The Italian is specifically set in Naples of 1764 “while it presents a thriving Inquisition that had not existed in Italy for over a hundred years” (104).


Romantic Border Crossings

tests the limits of what may be regarded as historically plausible, but also impliedly questions the notion of a knowable, singular, objective reality. Even if not sustained, a character’s belief or a narrator’s insistence that an event that the reader would normally understand to be impossible took place underlines the idea that reality may not necessarily be experienced by everyone in the same way. Further, Radcliffe’s “explained supernatural” inculcates in the reader wariness about the process of acquiring information. With the introduction of apparently supernatural happenings, the reader experiences a state of doubt about the truthstatus of events depicted in the narrative. This state of doubt is sustained for a lengthy interlude, thus pressuring the reader to give up her doubts and take on a new set of assumptions about the nature of reality depicted within the story. However, with the eventual rational explanation of the apparently supernatural the reader’s original doubts are vindicated, a lesson all the stronger for the lengthy incubation of uncertainty. While the text suggests that everything has a rational explanation, it also reinforces the idea that the process of obtaining the information necessary for such explanations is fraught with uncertainty. The other residual effect of this period of readerly doubt is that the reliability of the narrative’s presentation of other events is undermined. In fact, the Gothic novel’s very inception was linked to issues of knowledge, specifically, the debate about how reality can be depicted within fiction. The realist novelists tried to distinguish their work as a more credible, progressive genre than the older narrative tradition of the romance, thus provoking ongoing debates about the level of plausibility suitable for novelistic content. The Gothic novel, in turn reacted against the realist impulse: in his preface to The Castle of Otranto (1764) Horace Walpole explicitly responded to the realists, objecting to the strict realism of the new narratives, the way the “great resources of fancy have been dammed up” (9), and stating that he wrote Otranto in an attempt to blend the romance tradition with the realist novel. Although Walpole’s comments overtly address the aesthetic resources of novelists, they form part of the early critical wrangling about the relationship between fiction and reality—and thus the relationship between fiction and the writing of history. Indeed, Toni Wein argues that in Otranto Walpole is explicitly commenting on the practice of history, that he “deliberately plays a game of hide-and-seek with his readers in order to call into question the very undertaking of historical recovery” (14). She argues that while Walpole stresses the historicity of his work, the information presented in the story raises unanswered questions, creating ambiguities that undermine the claims for authenticity (17). Wein describes the novel’s frames—the priest-historian and the antiquarian editor—as “a continually unfolding series of masquerades” that “flaunt the act of role-playing in order to alienate us from it, to make it spectacular in order to reveal the constructedness of the image … Walpole’s masquerades are a form of resistance to history” (17–18). Wein cites Walpole’s Historic Doubts on the Life and Reign of Richard the Third as evidence of his skepticism about the practice of history; his doubts about the possibility of precision in representing the past, and his awareness of “the way that history can be deployed self-servingly” (14–15). The inception of the genre, then, was linked to questions of how truth may be known through narrative.

Genre Crossings: Gothic Novels and the Borders of History


Further, the Gothic novel’s connection to the cult of the sublime means that the genre is already engaged with the tension between subjective and objective experiences of reality. Increasing standards of objectivity and verifiability were being imposed by historical scholars; the sublime’s commitment to the power of subjective experience necessarily places it in tension with these goals. Edmund Burke’s treatise, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful (1757), calls for the mind to be exercised by the contemplation of the sublime in all its terror, and promotes the value of the individual’s emotional response. When Walpole declared in his preface to the second edition of Otranto in 1765 his desire to leave “the powers of fancy at liberty to expatiate through the boundless realms of invention” he was following Burke in endorsing the productive value of the personal, subjective, and affective over the certifiably real (9).5 The influence of Burke’s treatise on Radcliffe in turn is evident not only in her essay “On the Supernatural in Poetry,” published posthumously in 1826, but also in the effect on her fictional characters of their encounters with the sublime.6 Radcliffe’s supernatural mysteries, too, promote the subjective in forcing the reader for a sustained narrative interlude to share the heroine’s confusion, to experience that aspect of her personal point of view. The Gothic’s endorsement of the benefits of the sublime, I argue, may also be read as a comment on how reality may be known, a comment that forms a link between the genre and the ongoing debate about the nature of truth in narrative. These characteristics of the 1790s Gothic novel suggest the genre may be linked to the existing tradition of novels engaging with historiographical issues. My reading of Ann Radcliffe’s 1797 novel, The Italian, examines how this connection might be manifested in the content and form of a particular novel. This novel persistently problematizes the acquisition of information at the levels both of story and of discourse. For example, while Ellena Rosalba, in the manner of a good Gothic heroine, is separated from her hero, Vivaldi, she receives an important letter from him. Yet the contents of the letter are kept from her in a series of excruciating delays. After Vivaldi leaves the letter for Ellena, it is intercepted by a nun who sets it up as a trap for Ellena to betray herself. Ellena finally manages to retrieve the note after an hour of “anxious suspense,” only to extinguish the one light by which she is able to read the letter: A thousand times she turned about the eventful paper, endeavoured to trace the lines with her fingers, and to guess their import, thus enveloped in mystery; while she experienced all the various torture that the consciousness of having in her very hand the information, on a timely knowledge of which her life, perhaps, depended, without being able to understand it, could inflict. (132)

This passage makes strikingly vivid the distress that may be caused by hidden information; it emphasizes the frustration and terror Ellena experiences. In the 5 Hogle and Clery (“Genesis”) discuss the close relationship between Walpole’s aims in Otranto and Edmund Burke’s promotion of the sublime. 6 The influence of Burke on Radcliffe is detailed by Ware.


Romantic Border Crossings

elusiveness that characterizes the information Ellena seeks, and the suspense that characterizes the process by which she gains it, this scenario encapsulates the portrayal of information within the wider novel. The story represented in The Italian as a whole dwells on processes of information gain and distribution. In various ways this story details the process of establishing facts, of determining what happened and who is related to whom. The story has strong elements of mystery, raising uncertainties not only about the past of the heroine, Ellena—and, conventionally, the direction of her romantic future—but also about the moral status of characters such as Father Schedoni and even of the hero’s mother. The occlusion and misinformation begin early, with Ellena’s discovery of the portrait of Schedoni that she mistakenly believes to represent her father. Subsequently, just as he is about to marry Ellena, the hero is captured and taken to the Inquisition, which is a highly ritualized and violent information-gathering exercise. Like the incident of the letter, this interlude dramatizes the premium placed on information within the plot and the fear and uncertainty about its misuse and revelation: the operations of the Inquisition are characterized by suspicion, threat and terror.7 Even outside the formal exercise of the Inquisition, characters often relate events in order to give information which approaches the status of evidence in that its effect is crucial, for example, Beatrice’s confession of suspicion that her mistress has been poisoned. Further, the hero spends much of the plot uncertain as to why events have taken place, and whom to trust. And at the centre of the story lies a hidden narrative, that which is revealed in the confessional of the novel’s subtitle. Diane Long Hoeveler notes that interpretation is key to “what is at stake in this work”—the nature of the rite of passage from adolescence into adulthood. She identifies various motifs—the lute, the singing voice drawing Ellena to her mother, the Inquisition chambers—that the heroine must interpret correctly in order to reach adulthood safely (103). One of the most striking phenomena within this story is the number of garrulous servants or subordinates whose circumlocution causes frustration in their interlocutors. In these conversations the amount of information is usually plentiful but gleaning relevant information is difficult. Vivaldi’s servant Paolo is the most obvious example. Time after time, Vivaldi has a great deal of trouble quietening his servant, for example, outside the villa Altieri, when they are trapped in its vault and when they are fleeing the convent with Ellena. Signora Bianchi’s servant Beatrice is also notably prolix on two occasions. When she explains to Vivaldi the circumstances of and her suspicions about Signora Bianchi’s death Beatrice attempts to give many irrelevant details, such as what the maid said when she aroused Beatrice, until her “tedious circumlocution” exhausts Vivaldi’s patience (43). Later when she relates to Ellena the death of Vivaldi’s mother, the Marchesa, she delays coming to the point, leaving Ellena with the suspicion that Vivaldi has died, until Ellena “lost all power to urge inquiry, and was scarcely sensible of what was said” (374). Schedoni’s guide through the forest road exhibits the same characteristic in relating the history of the villa of the Baróne di Cambrusca. At first the guide focuses more on himself than 7 The inclusion of the Inquisition as a manifestation of the contemporary postrevolutionary conspiracy theories and paranoia sweeping Europe has been well analyzed (see for example Clery, Introduction, xxiii–xxv); I focus on its narrative effect.

Genre Crossings: Gothic Novels and the Borders of History


Schedoni would like, then goes on with his story despite Schedoni’s apparent lack of interest. Later Schedoni repeatedly interrupts to ask specific questions, until the guide replies, “You never will let me tell you. You always snap me up so short at the beginning, and then ask—what am I talking about!” (271). His lack of self-awareness comically highlights Schedoni’s frustration. And when the penitentiary Ansaldo is called to give evidence at the Inquisition the authorities first find it necessary to order him to be brief, then to enjoin him to keep to facts rather than offering surmises. These episodes of servant wordiness have various functions. One is, simply, characterization. Paolo’s loquaciousness marks him as transparently sincere and effusively loyal, if incautious and emotional. When he is happy he bursts into words of song, and the novel’s happy ending is marked by his refrain of “O! giorno felíce!” Sometimes the talkativeness helps to define a relationship: Beatrice’s disinclination to speak plainly in this conversation is partly self-defense; she is afraid of being laughed at or accused of starting a rumor. Sometimes a character’s wordiness is a triggering event. Paolo’s talkativeness sometimes acts as a source of danger for the hero; Vivaldi has to quiet Paolo in case they are heard and discovered and, when they are both captive in the Inquisition, Paolo imprudently speaks in a way that may give away incriminating evidence. These interludes sometimes operate as comic relief, often using satire at the expense of the speaker. After driving Vivaldi to distraction by refusing to come to the point of her tale, Beatrice says, “there are some folks that will not understand if you speak ever so plain, I am sure I speak plain enough. If I might tell my mind . . .” (44–5). Bruce Robbins has identified the long-winded delivery of a message to an impatient interlocutor as part of a convention of servants’ speech in literature that goes back to Sophocles, and he looks past the surface comic function of these interludes to an effect subversive of class relations. Robbins argues that in this dialogue one may at least find “the servant interposing the pressing fact of his own existence between the master and his news,” that the “entertaining non sequitur marks the servant’s refusal to follow” (70, 72). And in his discussion of George Eliot’s representation of a conflict between servants’ and masters’ logic, Jonathon Taylor points out how in certain conversations “the masters are defeated by reasoning servants whose minds refuse to be ‘controlled’” (49). In this way servants’ speech, overtly represented to appear comical or illogical, may in fact offer a type of class resistance. The number and exaggeration of the verbose conversations in The Italian suggests that they do not appear merely as a stock tradition, or for comic effect. Instead of political significance, however, I find an epistemological significance, one for which the disjunction between the speaker’s and listener’s desires is key. These disjunctions occur primarily along two axes of communication: duration and relevance. The time taken by these speakers to convey their information is drawn out to a comical or even frustrating degree, which engenders impatience in both the listening character and the reader. The extension of these conversations often becomes ridiculous; it draws attention to and defies the usual pacing of information-giving conversations. These speakers also have differing ideas to their listeners about what constitutes the relevant part of their information. Beatrice, Ansaldo and Schedoni’s guide want to fill out and give color to their stories; Beatrice and the guide also want to occupy the limelight, thus “interposing the pressing fact of their existence”.


Romantic Border Crossings

Information about the character of Father Schedoni has a particularly occluded place within the narrative, in that his moral status fluctuates as the novel progresses. This results in a shifting relationship between his character and readerly expectations. From the moment he appears in the text it is suggested that he is a dubious character with phrases such as “he artfully eluded every enquiry,” “a haughty and disordered spirit,” “the wily cunning of his nature” (34). For the novel’s first readers these descriptions would have united with prejudices against Roman Catholics to indicate that this character will turn out to be evil.8 This supposition is supported by the antipathy against Schedoni of the character who is clearly the hero and thus a moral touchstone, Vivaldi. However the strong expectation that Schedoni is an unmitigated villain is undermined by several incidences of moral ambivalence. The first is the weakening of his resolve to kill Ellena even before he believes her to be his daughter, suggesting that he might instead become a more complicated character than a stock villain, say, one who develops to repent of his evil aims. The ambiguity is sustained as he replaces Vivaldi as Ellena’s physical guide and protector—even though his motivations of dynastic ambition are morally inferior to Vivaldi’s love—and the suggestion that he is Ellena’s father implies that he will be morally redeemed. That the especially moral heroine shares this belief of fatherhood is particularly powerful. Further, as Clery has pointed out, no solid evidence for his evil nature is produced until about halfway through the narrative, with his proposal to murder Ellena; his moral status remains a suggestion, albeit a powerful one (“Introduction” xxvii). Vivaldi’s vacillating opinions about Schedoni are also particularly significant in influencing readerly opinion. In fact, during the Inquisition both the narrator and the hero cast doubt over Schedoni’s guilt. The narrator comments that “whether, notwithstanding late appearances, he were innocent, or that subtlety enabled him to reassume his usual address, it is certain his manner no longer betrayed any symptom of conscious guilt,” and states that Vivaldi “during the greater part of this examination, had been convinced of [Schedoni’s] criminality, now only doubted his innocence” (355). These ambivalent suggestions exploit readerly trust in the narrator and in the convention that the hero’s judgments are of special value.9 The fact that the first impression of Schedoni as evil is undermined, only ultimately to be confirmed, leaves the reader feeling manipulated, and distrustful of other suggestions conveyed by the narrative. The rise and fall of doubt about Schedoni’s role in the narrative does more than undermine the integrity of the information conveyed by the narrative; it creates confusion about the very nature of the story being told. During the period that the reader is encouraged to maintain the suspicion that the villain is actually a faulty but contrite character, the potential arises for the novel as a whole to be more complicated, with, for example, Schedoni becoming a study of character 8 Clery has detailed how “before her readers had begun the first line, they would have been prepared to encounter the dark influence of the Catholic priesthood” (Introduction, xiii). 9 The prelude describes the main narrative as a volume written after the events by a paid scribe. Yet, in its scope, detail, and multiple points of view, this main narrative predominantly seems like the work of a extradiegetic, third-person, omniscient narrator, an impression reinforced by the fact that the prelude does not have a matching epilogue with which to frame the main narrative and return it to the status of inserted document.

Genre Crossings: Gothic Novels and the Borders of History


development rather than a stock villain. In this way the reader’s expectations are further played with and her relationship to the text subtly altered. The mode in which Schedoni’s character is elaborated, that is, characterizes the wider text’s focus on the difficulties of communicating information. This is, then, a novel that may be characterized by confusion about the acquisition of various kinds of information. Not only are characters frustrated in their attempts to gain enlightenment, but also so is the reader. The novel purports to tell a story, but creates problems in conveying that information, disrupting the order of telling and engendering unease in the reader about its reliability. That is, The Italian problematizes the acquisition of information at the levels both of story and discourse, and it does this to an extent that the novel may be said to portray knowledge as inherently problematic. This characteristic, I contend, forms a link between the novel and the tradition of novelistic engagement with historiographical debates that centers on questions of epistemology. Just as the early novel’s exposure of narrative perspective is seen as a commentary on the history-fiction problematic, so may this novel’s highlighting of the difficulties of acquiring information be seen as an engagement with the same debate. The theme of uncertainty that I have identified is of course one of the characteristics of the novel that make it Gothic; it shares this suspense, uncertainty and tension with most other novels that form its genre. But rather than dismissing these phenomena as just generic markers, I suggest they are links to the concern in eighteenth-century culture with how the past may be represented. Many critics have examined the historiographical significances of the early novel, as the beginning of this paper outlines. And Gothic criticism has begun to address certain novels’ epistemological significances: Victor Sage argues that uncertainty about the truth value of what is represented is central to the narrative effect of The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), while Mark M. Hennelly analyzes the phenomenon of delayed information within The Italian, relating it firstly to the inquisitorial tactic of torture and ritual of confession and secondly to “Gothicism’s obsession with the inquisitorial dialectic between virtuous innocence and guilty experience” (6). Marshall Brown’s discussion of the Gothic novel in relation to Kantian metaphysics argues that the genre is fundamentally based on uncertainty. “Astonishment, suspense, uncertainty, ambivalence, play—such is the axis along which the gothic moves” (300), he argues. The epistemological significances argued by these critics and in this paper link to the early novel’s concern with historiography. It is not only the genre’s obvious concern with the past but also the discourses and stories of specific novels that indicate the genre’s place in the novelistic tradition of questioning the nature of narrative, knowledge and history.

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PART IV Pedagogical Border Crossings

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Chapter 10

Teaching Orientalism through British Romantic Drama: Representations of Arabia Marjean D. Purinton Texas Tech University

In the shadows of recent and impending world events involving the Middle East, it is particularly relevant for us to understand the legacy of European-Arab relations and representations that we have inherited from the Romantic Period, what role these representations have played in the ongoing Western constructions of Arabia and Arab identity, current anti-Arab sentiments and racial stereotyping. Our critical attention to representations of Arabia in Romantic literature significantly enrich our understandings of the period’s cultural and political relations with the Near East, but more importantly, they offer us opportunities for guiding our students’ critical thinking about both past and present manifestations of Orientalism in a geographical area often neglected by nineteenth-century cultural studies. Our close readings of familiar Romantic literary selections demonstrate how representations of Arabia are ubiquitously sprinkled throughout the period’s discourses. From the 1789 Songs of Innocence, William Blake’s “The Little Girl Lost” and “The Little Girl Found” includes allusions to Arabia: “Lost in desart wild / Is your little child”1 “Frowning, frowning night, / O’er this desart bright” (29–30); and All the night in woe Lyca’s parents go: Over vallies deep, While the desarts weep. Tired and woe-begone, Hoarse with making moan, Arm in arm seven days, They trac’d the desart ways.

1 William Blake, “The Little Girl Lost,” Songs of Innocence (1789) in British Literature 1780–1830, ed. Anne K. Mellor and Richard E. Matlak (Boston: Heinle & Heinle, 1996), p. 282, lines 21–2. Hereafter cited by line number parenthetically in text.


Romantic Border Crossings

Seven nights they sleep, Among shadows deep, And dream they see their child Starv’d in desart wild.2

In these songs of “innocence,” we see a child roaming helplessly on the cruel landscape of a Middle East desert. The poems paint an Arabian geography that is treacherously exotic, contributing to a British imaginary in which European landscapes are superior, nonetheless formidable but in different and familiar ways. In Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s 1798 “Fears in Solitude,” we perceive anxieties about national security imaged in oriental terms: From east to west A groan of accusation pierces heaven! The wretched plead against us, multitudes Countless and vehement, the sons of God, Our brethren! like a cloud that travels on, Steam’d up from Cairo’s swamps of pestilence, Ev’n so, my countrymen!3

Coleridge expresses his fears about Britain’s tyrannical behaviors with a simile in which he compares them to plagues from the Egyptian city of Cairo. While the figure may reference biblical texts, it may also acknowledge pestilence, such as yellow fever that plagued many travelers and soldiers in the Middle East. Furthermore, the image suggests that Britain’s tyrannous policies and practices reduce it to an inferior culture—like that found in Cairo. From Epistle III of Lucy Aiken’s 1810 Epistles on Women, Exemplifying Their Character and Condition in Various Ages and Nations, we find the conflation of superstition with the ancient cultures of Arabia, particularly Judah, in her survey of the development of Western culture: Hence, Superstition, spleenful, doting, blind, The mystic horrors shake his palsied mind, Hence as thy baleful spells in misty gloom Wrap the fair earth and dim her orient bloom.4

The ancient and exotic societies of the East are, according to the epistle, inferior to those of the West that had already emerged from the darkness of the Middle Ages and achieved civilizations superior to those found in the Orient. Felicia Hemans’s 1826 poem “Casabianca” features the young son of the Louis de Casabianca, Admiral of the French ship Orient. The Admiral died during the Battle of the Nile on August 1, 1798 when the French navy was defeated by the British, 2 William Blake, “The Little Girl Found,” Songs of Innocence, in Mellor and Matlak, 282–3, lines 1–12. 3 Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Fears in Solitude: Written April 1798 during the Alarm of an Invasion” in Mellor and Matlak, 695, lines 43–50. 4 Lucy Aiken, Epistle III, Epistles on Women, Exemplifying Their Character and Condition in Various Ages and Nations (1810) in Mellor and Matlak, 827, lines 278–81.

Representations of Arabia


led by Admiral Lord Nelson. As the Orient explodes in flames, the boy asks, “My father! must I stay?”5—a fitting question for British merchants and military in 1826. While actual military campaigns and commercial activities provided Europeans with representations of Arabia that they could incorporate in their literature, fantastical representations of the Near East was another source for tropes and accounts of exotic Arabia. In “The Mourner for the Barmecides,” published in 1826, Hemans’s borrows a noble Persian family and the fallen House of Giafar from the Arabian Nights and fashions events around the reign of the caliph Harun al-Rashid (786–809). The old speaker vows that the name of the vanquished family and culture will live forever thanks, to the stories and histories of the battle: For it is not as a flower whose scent with the dropping leaves expires, And it is not as a household lamp, that a breath should quench its fires; It is written on our battle-fields with the writing of a sword, It hath left upon our desert-sands a light in blessings pour’d.6

P.B. Shelley’s “antique traveller”7 certainly attests to the enduring nature of the name Ozymandias, the historical Ramses II, “King of Kings” (10) whose mighty works cannot be found among the “boundless and bare” (13) “lone and level sands” of the Egyptian desert. The period’s fascination with Egyptian archeology and history is expressed in this 1818 sonnet. Similarly, Joanna Baillie’s Metrical Legend “The Elden Tree: An Ancient Ballad,” published in 1836, resonates British memories of the Crusades during the Middle Ages, earlier European ventures into the exotic Orient to convert unbelievers with violence and colonization. The various warriors gathered in the poem’s hall recall their heroics: Each had fought in war’s grim ranks, And some on the surgy sea, And some on Jordan’s sacred banks, For the cause of Christentie.8

One of Baillie’s Fugitive Verses, “Sir Maurice: A Ballad,” relates the fate of a captured Crusader in Syria. Maurice painfully awaits the arrival of his betrothed from home: And many a dreary day and night, With the Moslem Chief stay’d he, But ne’er could catch, to bless his sight, Once glimpse of the fair lady.

5 Felicia Hemans, “Casabianca” (1826) in Mellor and Matlak, 1227, line 26. 6 Felicia Hemans, “The Mourner for the Barmecides” (1826) in ‘Records of Woman’ with Other Poems, ed. Paula R. Feldman (Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 1999), 105, lines 66–9. 7 Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Ozymandias” (1818) in Mellor and Matlak, p.1066, line 1. Hereafter cited by line number parenthetically in text. 8 Joanna Baillie, “The Elden Tree: An Ancient Ballad,” Metrical Legends (1836) in The Dramatic and Poetical Works of Joanna Baillie, 2nd edn,765.


Romantic Border Crossings

And oft to Moorham’s lord he gave His eager ear, who told How he became a wretched slave, Within that Syrian hold.9

As this brief survey reveals, representations of Arabia are prevalent in Romantic poetry, their occurrences assuredly signifying more than mere handy images of geographical and historical distances from Georgian Britain. As a pedagogical strategy, looking for representations of Arabia in short poems prepares students for examining their more sophisticated deployments in longer works. The genre in which representations of Arabia were sustained and complexly developed is drama, the genre (as reading texts and staged productions) that also shaped and influenced large, diverse audiences, much as mass media can influence today’s audiences. Our students can, I think, come to recognize the meanings and importance of Orientalism to the Romantic period and contemporary politics if they see how representations of Arabia were enacted and played out on the Romantic stage. Romantic drama stages, mentally and literally, spectacular enactments of Arabia that rendered its representations at once a fantastic mystery and a threatening “otherland,” a borderland simultaneously real and ideal to the European experience and imagination. In particular, Egypt played a crucial role, geographical and conceptual, on the stage of global politics during the Romantic period, as it does today. Among the Romantic-period dramas that depict British constructions of Arabia and reveal the evolving Arab-British relations, we find Richard Cumberland’s The Arab: A Tragedy in Five Acts (1785) and Alcanor: A Tragedy (1813); Hannah More’s Sacred Dramas (1785); Elizabeth Inchbald’s The Egyptian Boy (1790); William Wordsworth’s The Borderers (written 1796–97); News from the Nile; or, Laurels from Egypt, an occasional prelude by Thomas John Dibdin, produced as The Mouth of the Nile, or; the Glorious First of August (1798); Andrew Franklin’s comic opera The Egyptian Festival (1800); Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Charles Ward, and George Colman the Younger’s operatical romance Ali Baba; or The Forty Thieves (1806); Frederic Reynold’s The Deserts of Arabia (1806); Joanna Baillie’s The Beacon: A Serious Musical Drama in Two Acts (1812); John Howard Payne’s The Pacha (1822); Felicia Hemans’s The Siege of Valencia: A Dramatic Poem (1823); Thomas Lovell Beddoes’ Death’s Jest Book or The Fool’s Tragedy (written 1825–29); Elizabeth Polack’s Esther, The Royal Jewess; or, The Death of Haman! (1835); and James Robinson Planché’s Beauty and the Beast (1841). These representative dramas indicate that the stage became a site where the Middle East desert could be seen, its physical traits dramatized, as well as European assumptions about human connections with that strange Arabian landscape where, from the European perspective, as Emily Haddad has pointed out, human life had seemingly made little difference or progress.10 After Napoleon Bonaparte’s army defeated the 9 Joanna Baillie, “Sir Maurice: A Ballad,” Fugitive Verses (1840) in The Dramatic and Poetical Works of Joanna Baillie, 827. 10 Emily A. Haddad, Orientalist Poetics: The Islamic East in Nineteenth-Century English and French Poetry, 105–8, also identifies two important environmental qualities of the Arabian desert that made it uniquely exemplary to nineteenth-century Europe: (1) its

Representations of Arabia


Muslims in Egypt in 1798, however, the region became what Sara Seabright calls “a chess board for diplomats and politicians to manipulate rulers and factions.”11 By 1801, British rule held Arab “neutral zones,” like Egypt, under military control, and, as Piers Mackesy has demonstrated, the British army occupied the land of Pharaohs which they reported to be a place where “plague, blindness, and disease rage uncontrolled.”12 Romantic dramas about Arabia similarly engaged the imaginative world of the Middle East, framed by fantastical tales, mysterious myths, and tourist accounts. Especially influential, The Thousand and One Arabian Nights, translated from French and widely read during the eighteenth century, renewed British interest in the presumed unfamiliar, wild, remote, and unpredictable desert spaces and provided the terms for European interpretations of the Middle East. Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s 1800 correspondence reveals the influence of The Arabian Nights’ giants, magicians, and romances on his imagination, one tale making so deep an impression, that “I was haunted by specters, whenever I was in the dark….”13 In Book Five of The Prelude (1805), William Wordsworth recalls his childhood imagination’s creating an “Arab Phantom… / A gentle Dweller in the Desert,”14 derived from his fascination with an abridged One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, that “little yellow, canvas-covered Book, / A slender abstract of the Arabian Tales” (482–3) and his delight with the “promise scarcely earthly” (491) when he discovered that there were actually four volumes of the unabridged work. Colette Colligan has demonstrated that despite England’s greater colonial and cultural contact with India, it was the translations of Arab texts that elicited the most discussion, reproduction, and imitation from the British.15 In 1822, the Rosetta Stone guided French and British decodings of Egyptian hieroglyphics, marking Arab culture an imperial possession. Edward Lane’s 1836 publication of The Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians brought the Near East to British readers who had become avid armchair Egyptologists as colonization unearthed the buried treasures of Egypt’s past.16 physical traits of dryness, heat, desolation in contrast to its periodic oases, and (2) the linkage of this “unnatural” landscape to claims about human morality and virtue. The Middle Eastern desert lacks the moral qualities that make nature central to European Romanticism. 11 Sara Seabright, The British in the Middle East, 94. I recommend this excellent resource for its historical and cultural survey of European presence in Arabia. Hereafter cited by page number parenthetically in text. Herold J. Christopher, Bonaparte in Egypt details the French military and scientific campaigns to the Middle East during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. See also Timothy Mitchell, Colonising Egypt. 12 Piers Mackesy, British Victory in Egypt, 1801: The End of Napoleon’s Conquest, 226 13 Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Collected Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ed. E. L. Griggs (Oxford: Clarendon, 1956), vol.1, 347. 14 William Wordsworth, Book V, “Books,” The Prelude (1805) in William Wordsworth, ed. Stephen Gill, 438, lines 141 and 144. Hereafter cited by line numbers parenthetically in text. 15 See Colette Colligan, “’A Race of Born Pederasts’: Sir Richard Burton, Homosexuality, and the Arabs.” This study considers how British depictions of Arab sexuality as liberal and deviant functions as disguise for its own preoccupation with sexual inadequacy. 16 See Fatma Moussa-Mahmoud, “English Traveller and the Arabian Nights.” The essay explains how a copy of the popular Arabian Nights was recommended as a necessary


Romantic Border Crossings

It is at these points of intersection and contradiction that I think it possible for students to discover how our knowledge of the Near East is based on a representational system that is generated by the West and how those representations are constructed in ways that favor the ideological positioning of the West. Because Romantic dramas frame Arab culture and raise important questions about the meaning of representation in the British imperial imaginary, students can engage in a critical process of reading and interpreting that brings the conditioning of their own imaginations into question. These critical readings enable us to see how British representational Arabia, at times reifying and at times challenging what audiences might come to accept as the “true and real” Arabia, functions in similar ways to what they see about sensationalized “Arabia” in contemporary news accounts and fictional work, our contemporary theatricalized spaces of mass media. What Arabia “means” is contingent upon the relationship between spectators and theatrical presentations of Arab characters, settings, and cultural practices. The performative and representational Arabia of Romantic drama constitutes therefore an effective vehicle for teaching Orientalism.17 Post-colonial theorists and critics have pointed to the importance of our recognition of the conceptual creation of the Middle East by the West, one that can be seen in Romantic drama. According to Edward Said, “for most of the nineteenth century Egypt was in everything but name a European annex, traveled and raided—scientifically and enterprisingly—at will.”18 Consequently even during the early nineteenth century, the nature of Egyptology is less about Egypt than it is about Europe and European imperialism (Said 155). David Cannadine argues that the British Empire was at least as much “about the replication of sameness and similarities originating from home as it was about the insistence on difference and dissimilarities originating from overseas.”19 For Cannadine, empire building depended in large part on the domestication of the exotic, or “the comprehending and reordering of the foreign in parallel, analogous, equivalent, resemblant terms” (xix). Rajani Sudan maintains that initial British interest in the externalities of difference during early eighteenth-century colonialism shifted during the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries of commercial and piece of equipment for travelers going to the Near East during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Edward Lane’s translation was particularly authenticated by his immersion into Arabic culture, making detailed drawings of Egyptian monuments, assuming Arabic dress, eating Middle Eastern cuisine, speaking and reading Arabic languages. His translation gave British readers the most comprehensive picture of the life of Muslim Arabs. 17 In Crisis of the European Subject, Julia Kristeva describes theatre as “political art par excellence,” the sight were political thought is realized, 60–72. 18 Edward W. Said, “Egyptian Rites,” Reflections on Exile and Other Essays, 156, also explains that because Egypt was a highly prized and desirable imperial possession, Europeans struggled for Egypt and the right to depict Egypt. Said’s essay constitutes an important theoretical discussion that focuses on nineteenth-century Western representations of Europe and their lingering influences in the popular contemporary imagination. Hereafter cited by page numbers parenthetically in text. 19 David Cannadine, Ornamentalism: How the British Saw Their Empire, xix. The opening chapters trace the historical roots of British commercial activities in the Near East and the Far East. Hereafter cited by page numbers parenthetically in text.

Representations of Arabia


military presence in the Orient toward the introjection of that difference as a strategy for self-identification, a way of creating cultural meaning in order to organize its own national identity.20 The result was a xenophobic relationship with Arabia—a process by which the “other” is constructed so that its definition is contingent upon previous interest or attraction to the body of difference or foreignness. Julia Kristeva maintains that it is theatre that creates a shared meaning-making process in which an imperial cultural logic seeks to homogenize all identities and subjectivities appropriated by and assimilated into the culture of invading powers.21 The romanticism of Arabia was important to Britain’s imperial project, and what better place for it to be played out for public consumption and inspection than the theatre. These post-colonial theoretical perspectives on Orientalism could serve as a template for the analysis of representations of Arabia in Romantic drama, especially in graduate courses. At the undergraduate level, our students can discover Orientalism through representations of Arabia by close readings and even enactments of Romantic drama so to see how those representations contributed to the colonizing project that was to become imperial Britain. The next section suggests several other conceptual approaches germane to specific Romantic dramas for teaching Orientalism. Pedagogical Approaches: Character Analysis with Emphasis on Racial Stereotyping Richard Cumberland’s The Arab: A Tragedy in Five Acts (1785) is particularly well suited for this approach. The play’s plot involves the long-term machinations of Queen Augusta to regain her control of Judah from the Roman Empire through the accession of her supposed son, the 20-year-old Prince Abidah, an Arab. Abidah is in love with Galphyra, Syria’s exiled Monarch, an orphan who loves another, even though Abidah has rescued her from an attempted rape. Her primary concern is to find safe conduct from Jerusalem to Smyrna. Importantly, the play interrogates whether Abidah has the potential for effective leadership within the Roman Empire, a pseudo-national leadership that answers to colonizing European powers. As heir to Judah’s throne, Abidah confronts circumstances in which national politics and family politics compel actions contrary to his merciful nature, including seeming fratricide and parricide. Reports to Augusta claim that “his Air / Is bold and dauntless, and his manners wild / As the Arabian Hordes, with whom he liv’d.”22 20 Rajani Sudan, Fair Exotics: Xenophobic Subjects in English Literature, 1720–1850, discusses how the British imperial imaginary of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is expressed in the period’s novels. 21 Kristeva, Crisis, 56–64. Although Kristeva’s theoretical discussion emphasizes issues of subjectivity for an emergent contemporary unified Europe, her examination of cultural and individual identity crises provide a useful paradigm for the analysis of identity representation, formation, and assimilation during the European conquest of the Middle East of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. 22 Richard Cumberland, The Arab: A Tragedy in Five Acts (1785) in The Plays of Richard Cumberland, Vol. 4, ed. Roberto F.S. Borkat (New York: Garland, 1982), Act 2, 11. Hereafter cited by act and page numbers parenthetically in text.


Romantic Border Crossings

Augusta comes to see Abidah as a “rude unpracticed son of Nature / Encompassed with temptation” (4.30), a nature well suited to her plot to rob Mariamne and her son Herodian of the kingdom. Augusta hopes that Abidah will act upon the Arabian tenet, “Our Law and Our Religion is Revenge” (2.13), but Abidah resists performing the stereotypical barbarous and passionate Arab, instead seeking justice and fairness. The play provides opportunities for students to scrutinize the construction of racial stereotyping as well as the standards by which character or leadership is evaluated. Cumberland’s revision of The Arab, published in 1813 and renamed Alcanor: A Tragedy, features many of the same characters of his earlier play, but students will find another stereotyped character for analysis: Serapion, an Egyptian slave bribed by Augusta to kill Barzilla and thus protect the belief that Abidah (here named Affghar) is, in fact, her son and heir to the throne.23 Felicia Hemans’s play The Siege of Valencia: A Dramatic Poem (1823) dramatizes the difficulty for a hybrid subject to achieve leadership in an imperialist cultural economy.24 Set in medieval Spain, The Siege of Valencia features the national hero of Spain, Cid, a historic figure of the eleventh century (1043–99) who became the symbol of Castilian life despite the Moorish influences on his name and life. The word “Cid” is from the Arabic sidi, meaning leader or lord.25 Nonetheless, Cid’s name and legend are invoked by the Spanish who seek to expel the Moors at the time of the Re-Conquest. Rather than taking sides in the conflict and valorizing Muslim or Christian leadership, a feminized Eastern or a masculinized Western culture, the tragedy questions any imperial economy based on conquest, ethnocentric pride and supremacy, often disguised as heroic legend, immortal fame, and patriotic duty. The Siege of Valencia enacts the consequences of imperialist leadership through losses experienced by all its characters, especially Elmina and Ximena. Elmina loses her family in the deaths of her husband and two sons. Ximena loses romantic love when her young warrior is killed in battle, and with his death, her own heroic ideals die. Gonzales sacrifices his two sons as well as his family name and legacy, notions fostered by conquest mentality rooted in the Spanish culture. Abdullah loses Valencia, the land he sought to retain for a people already plagued by cultural and racial hybridity. The play questions any national leadership based on imperialism with its racial stereotyping and fictional superiorities, and it demonstrates that the criticism of such leadership is not bound by time or geography.

23 Richard Cumberland, Alcanor: A Tragedy (1813) in The Plays of Richard Cumberland, Vol. 4, 1–60. 24 Felicia Hemans, The Siege of Valencia: A Dramatic Poem (1823) in Mellor and Matlak, 1190–1225. 25 According to De Lacy O’Leary, Arabic Thought and Its Place in History, 230–46, Spanish Islam differed philosophically from the Islamic East, with the Jews functioning as intermediaries bringing the Muslim philosophy of Asia into contact with the Muslims of Spain. Spain became the place of refuge for Muslim philosophy. See also Albert Hourani, Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age: 1798–1939, 265–314.

Representations of Arabia


Influence of Archeological Expeditions, Military Campaigns, and Tourist Tales Everyone who traveled to Egypt marveled at the Pyramids and became interested in their mummies as well as other exotic Eastern rituals and practices. Thomas Lovell Beddoes’ Death’s Jest Book or The Fool’s Tragedy (written 1825–29) dramatizes these fascinations through the responses of several characters. Mandrake, the Zany or magician has been trained in Arab arts, as his assistant tells us: “In Egypt we plundered inchneumons of their marrow, and knocked the yolks out of crocodile’s eggs, with which, all manner of mummy he made a liniment of invisibility, and with it he swore he could anoint men out of sight.”26 The assistant refers to powdered mummery, which was supposed to be, Sarah Searight explains, a particularly efficacious medicine, even possessing magical properties (88). According to Heather Pringle, Egyptian mummies were the most desirable of souvenirs for European tourists. Many travelers hunted mummies themselves, hoping to display their resourcefulness at home. Eventually, tourists created a demand for mummy parts: dismembered heads, hands, feet, mysterious prizes easy to pack and to exhibit.27 For the court fool Isbrand of Beddoes’ play, the mysteries of the Middle East are indecipherable: “You put questions to me / In an Egyptian or old magic tongue, / Which I can ill interpret” (2.4.137–9). Duke Melveric, we learn, purchased Ziba from an Arab, under the shadow of a pyramid for many jewels. The Arab Ziba possesses the “sepulchral magic” of his forefathers and claims that he can command departed spirits. Beddoes frames the entire tragedy with elements of Egyptian travel reports and tales of the Crusades to the Middle East. Similarly, Joanna Baillie’s musical drama The Beacon: A Serious Musical Drama in Two Acts (1812) presents Western excavations of Arab treasures made during the Romantic Period as part of a continuing process since the Holy Crusades, business transactions rationalized as religious and commercial enterprises for the good of the Christian West. Garcio bears treasures taken from Egypt that Eminigard, killed in the Crusades, asks him to deliver to his fiancée Aurora: ‘Twas in a hostile and distant land He did commit to me these precious tokens, Desiring me to give them to Aurora, And with them too his sad and last farewell.28

Edward Said points out that these excavations involved methods of “marauding pirates” (156) and revealed contempt or ignorance for Egypt.

26 Thomas Lovell Beddoes, Death’s Jest Book or The Fool’s Tragedy (1825–29) in Plays and Poems of Thomas Lovell Beddoes, ed. H.W. Donner, Act 2, scene 1, lines 76–81. Hereafter cited by act, scene, and line numbers parenthetically in text. 27 Heather Pringle, The Mummy Congress: Science, Obsession, and the Everlasting Dead 197–211. 28 Joanna Baillie, The Beacon: A Serious Musical Drama, in Two Acts (1812) in The Dramatic and Poetical Works of Joanna Baillie, 304, Act 1, Scene 2.


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Political Resistance to Imperialism Representation of Arabia in Romantic dramas served a powerful political pedagogy. A political pedagogy intent on examining and even challenging prevailing public policy is safer for women playwrights to perform when it is displaced in spaces that ostensibly engaged with popular interest in fantastic Arabia. Hannah More’s “Moses in the Bulrushes” from her Sacred Dramas (1785) enacts the familiar biblical story of Moses’s escape from the cruel Pharaoh, but her version casts women, specifically maternal women, as alternative sources of cultural reconciliation and domestic love to the scripts of conquest and control pursued by the absent but ubiquitous male characters. More suggests that it is maternal affections that have the potential of transforming the politics shaping the imperial imaginary of her time. More’s Egyptian princess asks: Did those magicians, whom the sons of Egypt Consult and think all-potent, join their skill And was it great as Egypt’s sons believe; Yet all their secret wizard arts combin’d. To save this little ark of bulrushes, Thus fearfully expos’d, could not effect it. Their spells, their incantations, and dire charms Could not preserve it.29

More’s drama implies that the nation’s sons benefit profoundly when they are nurtured by maternal affection and not left to paternal, patriarchal structures, here aligned with magic and tyranny. More’s Sacred Dramas illustrate Romantic revived interest in the biblical Near East as a space claimed and colonized by a predominately Christian West. A similar political lesson emerges from Elizabeth Inchbald’s play The Egyptian Boy (1790), a drama about the Middle East but framed by British commercialism and colonization. When the Egyptian boy destroys a bird’s nest, Tofala exclaims: “…These poor little birds you have taken from their mother! Oh how she will mourn when she cannot find them. You do not know, most innocent babe, that a mother who has lost her children laments them to the last moment of her life.”30 Tofala knows all too well the pain of losing a child as she has been legally repudiated as an unfit mother following separation from her husband. Tearfully, she laments: “Maternal love had made me forget my commercial afflictions….” The Egyptian Boy represents Egypt as a signifier of the feminized but necessary supplement of the normatively masculine European subject in order to critique the very “othering” process that makes cultural and gendered normativity possible under imperialism.

29 Hannah More, “Moses in the Bulrushes,” Sacred Dramas (1785) in The Complete Works of Hannah More (New York: Harper, 1838), 78. 30 Elizabeth Inchbald, The Egyptian Boy (1790). I am working from a copy of the Larpent MS at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, which I hope to make available as a hypertext edition on the website British Women Playwrights around 1800 in the near future.

Representations of Arabia


One Thousand and One Arabian Nights and the Exotic, Fantastical Arabia Reading stories from Arabian Nights in tandem with Romantic drama in which we find representations of Arabia provides another approach for teaching Orientalism. Like the frame story of The Arabian Nights, Elizabeth Polack’s Esther, the Royal Jewess; or, The Death of Haman (1835), includes a frame structure of Queen Vashti’s banishment to Persia by the evil king Ahasuerus, a narrative and dramatic technique that parallels European control and appropriation of the Middle East.31 According to Dorothea von Mücke, the framing technique of the arabesque, the Orientalizing ornament that aestheticizes enigmatic writing and fantastical tales, characterize the Arabian literature that so captivated English readers during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.32 In Polack’s drama, Haman’s plot to assassinate King Ahaseurus resonates with the intrigue of Aladdin’s plan in The Arabian Nights to eliminate the evil African magician and reclaim his princess. The Eastern Procession at the end of the second act of Polack’s Esther enacts a vision of opulence and splendor of the kind portrayed in The Arabian Nights. British theatergoers of the mid-nineteenth century might view the Grand Tableau at the play’s end unveiling Arab oppression of Jews as a parallel to their own imperial oppressions in the Orient. James Robinson Planché’s Beauty and the Beast (1841) stages allusions to Arabia of the earlier nineteenth century that are playful but important reminders about the significance of Arab nations to British imperialism. At the beginning of the play, the Queen of the Roses tell Zephr: I’m sorry not to be obliged to bore you On an old subject, but, for your digestion At Easter, we must have an Easter question— And on my faithful Roses I depend To bring the matter to a happy end. The facts are these—a youth of royal race, Of noble mind and matchless shape and face, Has been transformed by malicious fairy Into an ugly monster, huge and hairy And must remain a downright beast outside ‘Till some fair made consents to be his bride.33

The “Easter” question to which the Queen of Roses refers is an allusion to the Eastern Question, British concern with safeguarding interests in the Mediterranean, 31 Elizabeth Polack, Esther, the Royal Jewess; or, The Death of Haman (1835), ed. John Franceschina, British Women Playwrights around 1800, 15 October 2000. [18 July 2001]. . 32 Dorothea E. Von Mücke, The Seduction of the Occult and the Rise of the Fantastic Tale, 190–96. According to C. Edmond Bosworth, “Arabic Influences in the Literature of the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Britain,” British representations of Oriental life in nineteenth-century literature were in large part recast from stories and portrayals in The Thousand and One Arabian Nights. 33 James Robinson Planché, Beauty and the Beast (1841) in Plays by James Robinson Planché, ed. Donald Roy, Act 1, Scene 1, p. 87.

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including the overland routes through Syria and Egypt.34 The beast, huge and hairy monster, could be a fantastic analogue to the Arab. Pedagogical Praxis Students can access Romantic drama in which we find representations with the guidance of the following practical approaches: • • •

• • •

Enact or read aloud a scene prior to its examination; Recast a drama with a contemporary context while retaining the drama’s ideology; Compare and contrast Romantic drama with twentieth-century films about Arab culture: Cleopatra, The Mummy, The Ten Commandments, The Egyptian, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Moses, Sinbad, and even the Disney production of Aladdin; Research French and British presence in the Middle East as a context for reading the drama; Read a drama dialogically with Romantic poetry or prose in which representations of Arabia are present; Recover the period’s fashion and costume replications of Arabian dress in visual or verbal descriptions as a context for considering Orientalism in Romantic drama; Juxtapose readings of Richard Cumberland’s The Arab: A Tragedy in Five Acts or Alcanor: A Tragedy and The Jew: A Comedy (1794),35 or Hannah More’s “Moses in the Bulrushes” and Elizabeth Polack’s Esther, the Royal Jewess, examining generic and cultural similarities as well as differences.

34 In The Age of Revolution: Europe 1789–1848, Eric J. Hobsbawm notes that during the 1830s, the “Eastern Question” arose concerning Egypt, with struggles among Britain, France, and Russia over ownership of its strategic geography in these nations’ quests for empire building (128). 35 Richard Cumberland’s play The Jew: A Comedy is reproduced in The Plays of Richard Cumberland, Vol. 5, 1–76.

Chapter 11

Crossing the Borders of Genre in Romantics Scholarship and the Classroom Stephen C. Behrendt University of Nebraska

This collection of essays offers us an opportunity to reflect upon broader and more far-reaching matters than we generally talk about in our conference papers, write in our articles, and teach in our classrooms. In each of those formats, we have trained ourselves, following various academic conventions, to focus sharply on our particular subject and to explore it within certain set parameters or limits. These may involve time—the twenty-minute conference paper, for instance,—or they may involve space, like the 5,000- to 8,000- word essay. In the classroom, these parameters involve time in several ways. Most of us teach within a semester- or a quarter-based curriculum, which shapes and constrains how we define, organize, and focus our material: teaching “Romantic poetry” in ten weeks, for example, is a very different task than teaching it in fifteen weeks, both in terms of content and in terms of pacing. This is of course equally so for the students, who are exposed in these two different curricular “packages” to what are often strikingly different representations of the subject matter. Courses in “Romantic literature” are inherently historical in concept, too, which encourages us to simplify—indeed often to over-simplify—a complex era in the interests of efficient packaging. Even when we try to disturb this chronological bent by arranging our courses, say, thematically, when we look at our syllabi we often discover, to our chagrin, that our examination of themes still proceeds largely chronologically. Familiar paradigms are hard to shed, in part because they become so familiar that we fail any longer to see them and their effects on our work. Further still, the courses we teach are most often organized along genre lines, with generally very little border-crossing involved, simply because time and space do not permit it. What I propose in the pages that follow runs largely counter to this intellectually and pedagogically shrink-wrapped approach to Romanticism. That approach has historically hampered the very sort of creative teaching and bordercrossing scholarship that our field needs more than ever before in these days when so many of us are heavily invested in revising and remapping the Romantic literary and cultural landscape. I’ve been struck many times over the years by something that I hear from colleagues whose scholarly and teaching specialties lie in either poetry or prose


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(including fiction) but not both. These colleagues often remark on the comparatively incomplete picture they have formed—even as sophisticated scholars—of the Romantic literary community considered as a whole. Repeatedly they observe how very different their view of “British Romanticism” seems to be from the views of colleagues whose teaching and scholarship are oriented primarily toward genres other than the one in which they themselves are accustomed to work. This is one reason why I believe it is so important for us to try more actively than most of us have historically done to strike up and pursue meaningful conversations with colleagues whose work lies in areas of Romantics studies with which each of us is often perilously unfamiliar. If we are going to reconsider the various “borders” that have historically both demarcated and provincialized the territory of Romantics studies, then one of our immediate aims should be to work collectively to generate a more expansive, dialogical model of the Romantic literary community and culture. Our own individual scholarly and pedagogical projects cannot but be enriched by what we can learn about this enhanced and expanded cultural context that we will in fact reconstitute together. And I stress the “re” in “reconstitute,” for what we will be doing is recapturing some of the energetic and committed interdisciplinarity that was in fact one of the historical hallmarks of Romantic culture. The sort of imaginative border-crossing that I have in mind, which involves both the formal genres and less formalized areas of inquiry, will help us all to develop greater critical sophistication and cultural sensitivity in how we represent and interrogate British (and indeed all) Romantic writing in our scholarship and in our classrooms, where we are ourselves engaged in shaping the scholars and teachers who will follow us and who will derive from our own efforts and from the rapidly expanding body of accessible Romantic literary texts new and presumably even more expansive questions. Scholarship in the literature and culture of British Romanticism has long reflected the curricular structure of the colleges and universities in which that literature and culture is taught and studied (the two are not necessarily the same). Defining courses by semester or quarter length, as is most commonly done, functionally constrains their range and scope and encourages for sheer convenience a focus upon a single genre rather than upon a broad representation of the period’s actual, diverse literary activity. Even within those forcibly constricted single-genre parameters, additional selection and narrowing occurs, in hopes of trimming a still bulky bag of texts into a neat portfolio. Historically, literary canons resulted in part from a perceived need to reduce, limit, and simplify complex literary-cultural practices to accommodate them to calendar-governed curricular constraints and to literary publishing practices: anthologies are but one illustration of the resulting intellectual compartmentalization. But the recognition that there is—and always has been—more to the picture than what is suggested in variously configured canons has in recent decades sparked a dramatic rethinking of the whole nature and scope of British Romanticism. In poetry, for instance, the recovery of women’s writing has challenged the historically male-centered poetic canon and suggested alternative ways of viewing the poetic community. Paradoxically, however, this recovery work has also exacerbated the dilemma by implying that ever more “content” can be packaged in inadequate vessels that are already strained nearly to bursting. The Internet offers a good— albeit a sobering—lesson. There is now so much “out there” in electronic form

Crossing the Borders of Genre in Romantics Scholarship and the Classroom


that the wealth of available materials—which appear on the Internet in relatively “unfiltered” fashion (in this would-be utopian electronic anarchy anyone can post anything)—invites us to configure the constellation of “Romanticism” just as each of us wishes to do. But, the pedant in us responds, we need to discipline this array (as David Copperfield did his heart) in order to have order. And that impulse circles back to forming new canons and new hierarchies, rather than liberating us from the resident paradigm of canonicity in the first place. A comparable dilemma involves Romantic fiction, of course, where scholarly and pedagogical projects now wrestle, within comparably constrained parameters, with issues not just concerning authorship and audience but also concerning the complex social, cultural, and economic factors implicit in diverse literary production and influence, factors that include the rise of the professional author and the marketdriven publishing industry. Some of the most innovative scholarly projects combine the methodologies of sociology with those of history, multi-genre literary analysis, textual scholarship (including recovery), and the history of the press and of its audiences, as happens with particularly spectacular results, for example, in Don Herzog’s Poisoning the Minds of the Lower Orders. Recovery projects in fiction may well mean that we must revisit literally thousands of novels, many by longforgotten writers, female and male, whose fiction was nevertheless both widely read and widely influential in its own time and for some time afterward. Inevitably, we will need, too, to revisit the thorny subject of aesthetics, which we have for some years been able at least to keep at the perimeter of our vision (when we could not just ignore it), for we will have to engage again in some sort of comparative assessment and perhaps, I tremble to say, some sort of relative ranking schemes. But doing so will necessarily entail developing what will likely be quite a different set of criteria (and perhaps more than one) than the one(s) we academics have typically used for nearly two centuries. We will need to go back and do something akin to what Aristotle must have done in cramming for his Poetics: try to look at everything (or very close to it). From that very ample and diverse fabric we must then begin to tease out common threads, taking into account both formal aesthetic considerations and cultural circumstances that include economics, politics, institutional moral criteria, gender issues, and the material circumstances of Romantic-era publication. In a sense, formulating our new aesthetic criteria may well require a process not unlike that which dictionary editors use to determine what new words to add: letting the extent of common usage and common comprehensibility provide the yardstick. Engaging in the sort of literary archeology I am describing necessarily means applying as we proceed what we learn from our discoveries (or recoveries) and revising our previous opinions and conclusions—and our course offerings. To represent the Romantic era more faithfully—to ourselves, to one another, and to our students—means acknowledging that both the extent and the diversity of writing from the period is far greater than traditional literary history implies or accommodates. This is not a wholly new project, of course, as anyone knows who has read, for example, Michael McKeon, who warned us already in 1987, in The Origins of the English Novel, that any “theory of genre” must itself be “dialectical” in nature (1). Even “dialectical” may be too limiting a word, however, especially when we consider Paul Keen’s more recent observation that “the word ‘literature’ is now more


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commonly approached as a complex historical product formed by and responding to an intricate network of social needs and pressures.” (xiv). Moreover, as Jürgen Habermas’ often controversial explications of the “public sphere” has demonstrated, the “public-ation” (with hyphen) of any work participates in a broad range of cultural activity that was itself being reshaped in important ways at precisely the historical moment in which we are most interested as Romantics.1 Only when we expand our critical and theoretical parameters beyond the conventional boundaries inscribed by individual genres of literary and cultural production, in other words, do we begin to recognize the full dynamism of the interpenetration of genres, of the sort of “generic heterodoxies” that G. Gabrielle Starr has recently elucidated in her instructive study of the relationship of lyric poetry to the eighteenth-century novel.2 Nevertheless, in Romantic poetry and fiction, as in Romantic drama (which is far less often taught in English and Theatre departments), and non-fictional discursive prose, the conventional academy-bound, curriculum-driven, single-genre pedagogical model remains the dominant paradigm in Romantic studies. Moreover, as it has done for decades, the majority of the literary scholarship produced by college and university teachers inevitably reflects and consequently perpetuates the curricular models to which these scholars were themselves exposed as students and to which they now typically accommodate their own teaching materials and strategies. The failure of so much otherwise exemplary scholarship to avoid compartmentalized, genre-driven thinking is one unintentional product of the post-secondary curricular structures that govern how academic courses are usually “packaged.” These calendardriven models are not about to go away, however, and so our task as scholars and teachers is to develop new, more effective and historically accurate ways of representing the Romantic literary community within these curricular and scholarly parameters. We need to turn these vessels into mechanisms that work for us—and for our students—rather than against us and them, and against the historical and cultural realities of the period. Indeed, scholarship and teaching across the Humanities urgently requires just this sort of revision of its intellectual, theoretical, historical, and cultural paradigms if it is to reflect the historical reality of an interconnected national community of culturally and ideologically diverse authors and readers whose knowledge and interests included not just poetry or prose fiction but rather all the literary genres. Writers in any given literary genre were often significantly impacted by works in other genres, we need to remind ourselves, even when the intellectual and ideological issues involved in these various works may appear at first glance to be very different. Even now, though we profess to recognize a different “Romanticism” in Britain than was the norm even as recently as twenty years ago, it remains nevertheless true that specialists in Romantic poetry, for example, tend to teach a differently conceived and configured “Romantic era” than do those who specialize in Romantic fiction. The questions that Romantic poetry specialists investigate, and have been 1 See especially The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. 2 See G. Gabrielle Starr, Lyric Generations: Poetry and the Novel in the Long Eighteenth Century.

Crossing the Borders of Genre in Romantics Scholarship and the Classroom


acculturated to ask, are often surprisingly different from those of fiction-oriented Romanticists, as are in many cases both the issues that the literary texts themselves explore and the audiences their authors envisioned for them. Yet all these authors and texts collectively define an interactive “Romantic” literary community that also includes drama, non-fiction prose (including print journalism), and various extra-literary materials that often extend beyond the range of the printed word and into the fields of visual art, music, and alternative theatre. Often genre-specialist scholar/teachers of poetry or of fiction incorporate little of the other genre in their teaching—or scholarship—in part because that is how they studied their authors in the first place. Furthermore, most ignore drama almost entirely, just as they generally overlook contemporary print journalism. Accustomed by their classroom practices to this constrained vision of the field, many replicate it in their scholarship, further entrenching reductive, genre-specific (or genre-exclusive) paradigms that have become almost second nature: habits of mind, as it were. Thus in scholarly literature and in academic classrooms alike has a historically inaccurate image of Romantic literary culture too often been reinforced rather than revisited and revised. Rethinking the Romantic literary scene requires of us not only searching discussion of the primary works and the secondary historical, intellectual, and cultural works which they both reflect and inform, but also dialogue among us about strategies for developing coherent, manageable curricular and pedagogical models from this increasingly daunting wealth of materials. This means thinking at once both “out of the box” and within it, and looking both outside of and within what we are accustomed to think of as the world of literary production. We shall do well to build upon helpful reminders like Paul Keen’s assertion that for Romantic-era writers “literature” (which they defined more expansively than we modern scholar/ teachers typically do) constituted “a complex field of writing and reading shaped by a range of commercial, political, and social factors.” And we should note his corollary point that these same Romantics worried about the consequences of literary overproduction for an as yet relatively unsophisticated and undiscriminating reading public who seemed to many of them to be more interested in fashionable diversions than in any serious, principled search for truth and moral centeredness (Keen xxi, xviii). In our scholarship, no less than in our teaching, we need to examine much more creatively both the substantial body of interrelated and dialogical literary and extra-literary material that lies outside the traditional canons and the broad field of public discourse (including other literary works) that was struggling to assess all this literary and extra-literary material already at the time of its production and currency. This will mean also reassessing some two centuries of critical and curricular thinking and writing that have been rooted in earlier and much less generous definitions of “literature” itself. It’s too much for any of us to do individually: we must collaborate if we are to make any meaningful headway. We must put our scholarly and pedagogical heads together and enlist both our students and one another in this ambitious but vital enterprise. Let me try to illustrate with some perhaps more specific examples some of the challenges that face us. Scholarship in Romantic fiction has traditionally emphasized the work of historically familiar names such as Jane Austen, Ann Radcliffe, Matthew Lewis, and Walter Scott. However, when we add to that company writers


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like Barbara Hofland, Mary Meeke, and Anna Maria Porter (to name only three), who were widely read and imitated at the time, we get a very different picture, one that requires us to reassess many of our notions about Romantic fiction, both about its literary nature and scope and about its audiences, its social function, and its cultural currency. The situation is comparable in Romantic poetry. Adding Helen Maria Williams, Mary Robinson, and Charlotte Smith (again to name only three from among many possibilities) to the “early Romantic poets” formerly defined largely in terms of the familiar male figures of William Blake, William Wordsworth, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and then adding Mary Tighe, Felicia Hemans, and Letitia Elizabeth Landon (and/or others) to the “later Romantics” who used to be only Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats likewise produces a literary scene whose nature and emphases differ markedly from the familiar paradigm of “Romanticism” derived from exclusive consideration of the male poets. That paradigm stressed concepts of sublimity, elevated rhetoric, intellectual rigor, and prophetic utterance historically associated with male gender models. It excluded what scholars like Stuart Curran, Anne Mellor, Marlon Ross, and Paula Feldman Ross have variously labeled a “feminine Romanticism” that stressed compassion, nurturance, community, and inclusiveness.3 Moreover, that traditional canon-bound view of Romanticism largely excluded alternative mappings of Romanticism and its writing community that emphasized matters of gender, class, economics, sociopolitical program, or aesthetics. It left out working-class poets like Janet Little on the early end, Robert Bloomfield in the middle, and John Clare on the later end, for example. And it excluded, too, lesserknown poets like Alfred John Mitford (who may also have been “Alfred Burton” and “Alfred Thornton”) who wrote extensively and often satirically about military life,4 and songsters and lyric poets Anne Hunter, Thomas Moore, and Barry Cornwall (Bryan W. Procter). In fiction, recent scholarship on Jane Austen has reminded us of the extent to which her fiction reveals her considerable working knowledge of contemporary novelists’ work, a knowledge that she surely expected her readers to share if they were fully to appreciate her own fiction’s often pointedly ironic intertextuality. Some of the alternative paradigms we might profitably explore begin to be visible when we take our various individual-genre outlines and overlay them upon one another. Looking at a full year’s literary and cultural production regardless of genre—studying the output of 1798 or 1816 or 1820, rather as James Chandler has done for 18195—yields pictures that are strikingly different from those held by specialists grounded narrowly in one particular genre.

3 The most prominent of their groundbreaking studies are Stuart Curran, Poetic Form and British Romanticism; Anne K. Mellor, Romanticism and Feminism; Marlon B. Ross, The Contours of Masculine Desire: Romanticism and the Rise of Women’s Poetry; and Paula R. Feldman, British Women Poets of the Romantic Era: An Anthology. Ed. Feldman. 4 See Michael Page’s examination of three military works by Mitford and involving these presumed pseudonyms at MitfordJohn/MitfordCousinIndex.htm. 5 See James Chandler, England in 1819: The Politics of Literary Culture and the Case of Romantic Historicism.

Crossing the Borders of Genre in Romantics Scholarship and the Classroom


In fact, not just poetry and fiction but also drama and non-fiction prose flourished during the Romantic period, and many important authors worked, often successfully, in more than one genre: Walter Scott (poetry, fiction) is a conspicuous example, Joanna Baillie (drama, poetry) a less familiar one. While both well-known and lesser-known male poets largely eschewed prose fiction, many attempted drama. While only a few women published both poetry and plays (e.g., Baillie, Hemans), on the other hand, numerous women enjoyed wide reputations both as poets and as novelists (e.g., Mary Robinson, Charlotte Smith, Sydney Owenson, Amelia Opie), an apparently gender-driven differentiation that has never been sufficiently examined. Indeed, scholarship has even now insufficiently examined the rich intellectual and artistic cross-fertilization that resulted from individual authors’ familiarity with the lives and works of contemporaries working in other genres. What might we learn from considering how a canonical male political activist like Percy Shelley, for example, incorporated into both the content and the structural and aesthetic principles of a drama like The Cenci (1819) diverse influences from popular sensationalist Gothic fiction, contemporary stage practices and acting styles, the rhetoric of radical journalism, and ongoing dialogues conducted in print with contemporaries like Byron and Leigh Hunt?6 Indeed, how do we approach assessing a writer like Shelley, who wrote both extensively and productively in four genres (poetry, prose fiction, drama, and philosophical prose)? How well are we presently equipped, in the first place, even to undertake such an assessment, given the traditional privileging (or should I say segregation?) of genres in scholarship and teaching? It is a question that needs an answer. But let me instead ask more questions. What does it tell us that a poet like Felicia Hemans, who would come for the Victorians to epitomize the poetess of “heart, hearth, and home,” combined in early poems like The Restoration of the Works of Art to Italy (1816) or Tales, and Historic Scenes, in Verse (1819) materials that reflected her familiarity with matters as diverse as contemporary historiography, art history, the modern epic, burgeoning European nationalism, and topical print journalism of the day? Or, to take the inquiry in a different direction, what can we learn from considering how often the era’s “popular” novelists included quotations, epigraphs, and allusions from contemporary (as well as more “classic”) verse that imply their— and their readers’—familiarity with that verse? Or, veering in yet another direction, why does some of the most popular poetry of the Regency (Byron, Scott, Hemans) reflect aesthetic and ideological assumptions and aspirations so different from those of the popular fiction of a Mary Meeke or a Sarah Green, while at the same time some of the immensely popular poetry that does reflect many of these “popular”

6 For example, Michael Scrivener examined some of Shelley’s debts to political rhetoric and it radical journalism as early as 1982 in Radical Shelley: The Philosophical Anarchism and Utopian Thought of Percy Bysshe Shelley while Charles E. Robinson productively explored his relationship with Byron in Shelley and Byron: The Snake and Eagle Wreathed in Fight; I considered some of Shelley’s real and imagined relationships with his audiences in Shelley and his Audiences. All these are “starts,” of one sort or another, but none integrates the broad spectrum of cultural and genre phenomena as broadly or as inclusively as my discussion here envisions.


Romantic Border Crossings

phenomena like Bloomfield’s A Farmer’s Boy was until very recently excluded even from discussion of Romanticism, much less systematic study? Then again, might we be able to read Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage in new and perhaps different ways by examining it through the lens of late eighteenth-century sentimental prose fiction? Or, still again, what can we discover about ideological changes in William Wordsworth’s poetry in 1800–1807, or about public response to Joanna Baillie’s Series of Plays … [on]the Passions of the Mind, or about the sensational rise of Scott’s historical novels, precisely by looking at what was taking place in other genres, and indeed in other contemporary cultural phenomena? How might we pursue the culturally expansionist agenda I have been outlining here? One practical approach is simply to start with specific examples. For instance, after we review all that has been written about Wordsworth’s “Nutting,” with all its sexually charged implications of violence, spoliation, and even rape, it is instructive to turn to Mary Russell Mitford’s Our Village (1824), which contains a brief chapter, also called “Nutting,” that describes the same activity from a very different perspective indeed, both thematically and rhetorically.7 That Our Village is neither quite fiction nor pure non-fiction is itself helpful in addressing issues of authority and veracity in Wordsworth’s poem, even as Wordsworth’s troubling poem provides an astringent forerunner to Mitford’s sunny account. Another set of texts from different genres illustrates a somewhat different set of considerations. In her 1797 poem, “To Mr. S. T. Coleridge,” Anna Letitia Barbauld presciently cautions her fellow poet to beware the seduction of “the maze of metaphysic lore” (l. 34) that haunts the “Grove” to be found “Midway the hill of Science” (ll. 3, 1), the very seduction to which he admits, five years later in “Dejection: An Ode,” that he has succumbed. But Barbauld’s reference to “the hill of science” alludes to her own allegorical essay of the same title, while the image of the grove midway up the hill recalls also the restful “Arbour” that was “about the midway to the top of the Hill” named Difficulty that poses a seductive threat to the moral climbers in Bunyan’s still widely-read Pilgrim’s Progress.8 New analyses of Romantic reading patterns—not just who was reading but also what they were reading—will alert us to examples of literary intertextuality that will enable us to read texts and their cultural contexts in a more historically informed fashion. Then there are the border crossings that involve not just different genres but entirely different arts. Not surprisingly, Blake figures large in these examples. For instance, while scholars have identified some of his debts in illuminated works like America: A Prophecy (1794) to visual artists as diverse as the caricaturist James 7 For example, Mitford begins her final paragraph as follows: “Oh, what enjoyment this nut-gathering is! They are in such abundance, that it seems as if there were not a boy in the parish, nor a young man, nor a young woman—for a basket of nuts is the universal tribute of country gallantry. … Oh, what a pleasure nutting is!” See Mary Russell Mitford, Our Village: Illustrated Edition. The contrast with Wordsworth could hardly be starker. 8 Barbauld’s essay appeared among the “Miscellaneous Pieces” in the second volume of The Works of Anna Lætitia Barbauld, with a Memoir, ed. Lucy Aikin (2 vols. London, 1825), pp. 163–70, although it was clearly written much earlier. For the Hill, see John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress: 74–5. William McCarthy and Elizabeth Kraft discuss these connections in The Poems of Anna Letitia Barbauld: 297n.

Crossing the Borders of Genre in Romantics Scholarship and the Classroom


Gillray and the grand-style history painter John Singleton Copley, far less attention has been paid to the surprisingly powerful influence on Blake’s poetry itself of the conventions of history painting. Discussions of the early historical prophecies (America, Europe, The Song of Los), for example, have for the most part missed the extent to which Blake’s verbal accounts of both the dramatic settings or tableaux and the physical action (including gestures) within the narrative constitute verbal approximations of many standard iconographic features of history painting as it was familiar to Blake and his contemporaries from the works of Copley, Benjamin West, Joshua Reynolds, James Barry, Henry Fuseli, and others. While Blake studies have long yielded lists of visual allusions, “borrowings,” and other references, little has been said about this other cross-disciplinary phenomenon—perhaps precisely because Blake scholars are typically trained in the traditions of one of the arts in which he was proficient but not both. The lack of such knowledgeable interarts border-crossing (which is but a more interdisciplinary example of the sort of generic insularity I have been discussing) is relevant also to Romantic verbal and visual satire, where in recent years scholars like Steven Jones and Marcus Wood9 have shown us how to appreciate the complex interdisciplinarity of works like The Political House that Jack Built (1819), which combined the considerable talents of William Hone and George Cruikshank and which sold more than a hundred thousand copies in only a few weeks.10 Such works are also valuable vehicles for examining in the classroom the confluence of visual art, verbal art, and political rhetoric with the gritty details of everyday political partisanship evident in political publications ranging from broadsheets to parliamentary speeches and in satirical verse and prose fiction alike. These considerations have real relevance also for literary studies. If Charlotte Smith’s Desmond (1792), for instance, may be considered a sort of staged reading of contending views about French republicanism, so is William Wordsworth’s early Cambridge poem, An Evening Walk (1788–89, published 1793), an exercise in antiwar sentiment whose argument hinges on the poet’s remarkable staging, at the poem’s center, of his contrasting images of the happy natural family of swans and the miserable broken human family. I say “staging” deliberately, because the theatre, both as literature and as public spectacle, remains inexplicably neglected in broadly-based assessments of Romanticism.11 Not just the turgid plays of earnest playwrights like Henry Hart Milman, but also the much more stageable plays of both canonical authors like Shelley and Coleridge and historically neglected authors like Joanna Baillie and Felicia Hemans have usually been left out of the Romantic equation, even though they explore more than just the sort of dramatic conventionalism of a Kotzebue (to 9 See Steven E. Jones. Satire and Romanticism and his recent introductory essay, “Satire,” in Romanticism: An Oxford Guide. See also Marcus Wood, Radical Satire and Print Culture, 1790–1822. 10 See Marcus Wood, “Hone, William,” in An Oxford Companion to the Romantic Age: British Culture 1776-1832: 548. 11 Judith Pascoe’s brief essay, “Romantic Drama,” usefully examines some of the reasons for this neglect, which she suggests stems in part from Romantic drama’s status as “a genre whose virtues no one could agree on.” “Romantic Drama,” in Romanticism: An Oxford Guide: 423. See also Gillian Russell, “Theatre,” in An Oxford Companion: 223–31.


Romantic Border Crossings

cite one object of Wordsworth’s disdain). The themes and concerns of Romantic drama often parallel—where they do not in fact replicate—those of Romantic poetry and prose fiction, albeit the special demands of the theatres (and especially the nonlicensed theatres) produced a variety of theatre that is neither so “literary” nor so “respectable” as most poetry and prose, including even the sentimental novels that were so often excoriated by the would-be custodians of moral and cultural taste. Moreover, the larger subject of what we might best call “street theatre” is especially relevant to British Romantic culture: we should follow Gillian Russell’s lead and examine the inherently theatrical goings-on that surrounded events like the Treason Trials of 1794, the “O.P. riots” over rising ticket prices at Covent Garden (1809– 10), the Prince Regent’s sneaking about in London in 1814–16, or the return to the England of 1820 of Caroline of Brunswick in anticipation of the 1821 coronation of George IV.12 These and many more examples of public theatre or “street theatre” find their parallels in the boisterous literary production of the period, from the wickedly satirical poems of “Peter Pindar” (John Wolcot) and a host of imitators (like the author of the deliciously scatological The R—t’s Bomb13) to Thomas Love Peacock’s rollicking novels to periodicals like Thomas Wooler’s The Black Dwarf and on to the often anarchic prints of Gillray, Rowlandson and Cruikshank. Let me suggest two ways in which both scholarship and teaching in British Romanticism can begin to rediscover and to reclaim some of the lost intergeneric and interdisciplinary ground I have been discussing here. First, it is a wonderfully instructive exercise—whether for ourselves or for our students—to go to the library and work one’s way through an issue or two of one of the leading periodicals of the day. Here I am thinking less of periodicals like the Critical Review or the Monthly Review, which consisted almost exclusively of literary reviews, than of more heterogeneous journals like the European Magazine or the Monthly Magazine, where any issue might (and did) include an eclectic variety of literary, political, scientific, economic, moral, medical, and philosophical essays sequenced in a seemingly unhierarchical and therefore liberatingly anarchic fashion. Perusing journals like these reminds us and teaches our students of the interesting historical moment in the growth of “the professions” that corresponds to the Romantic period. The earlier part of the period in particular marked perhaps the last great moment of the “wellrounded” (albeit generally patrician) citizen, the individual whose knowledge and taste not only was expected to, but for the most part actually did, extend across the 12 See Gillian Russell, The Theatres of War: Performance, Politics, and Society, 1793– 1815. For an excellent example of the illuminating confluence of literary, dramatic, historical, and socio-political analysis, see Marc Baer, Theatre and Disorder in Late Georgian London. 13 The R––t’s Bomb! Or, R––l Exhibition. A Poem, in Bombastic Verse, By Peter Pindar, Esq. (London: John Fairburn [1816]). The poem, which is tentatively attributed to C. F. Lawler and which runs some 122 four-line stanzas, bears the further subtitle: “occasioned by the uncovering of the Bomb in St. James’s Park, Aug. 12, 1816.” The poem’s broad humor is based on the poet’s requirement (in stanza 9) that the reader rhyme “bomb” with “dumb,” which produces “bum” and which initiates a brilliant succession of puns and other bumrelated plays on word and image. I find this poem particularly helpful for showing students (who in any event always savor its humor) a contemporary analogue for the way Byron forces his reader, right from the start, to mispronounce Don Juan’s name.

Crossing the Borders of Genre in Romantics Scholarship and the Classroom


disciplinary borders that would soon arise between that homogeneous readership and both the subsequently differentiated and “professionalized” readerships and the comparably more specialized publications that would serve them—and would help to isolate them from one another, just as William Godwin, writing in his Political Justice (1793), had ruefully predicted. Let me also claim, finally, that there is much for all of us to learn about books and their readers during the Romantic period, even after—and perhaps especially because of—William St. Clair’s recent detailed analysis of Romantic publishing and what he calls “reading constituencies.”14 Here I am thinking especially of circulating and subscription libraries, which served as both literary outlets and as social centers and which annoyed both intellectual traditionalists who saw them as cesspits of too easily-accessed sentimental novels, and political reactionaries who fretted about the political consequences of the increased literacy and the correspondent increased free exchange of ideas they facilitated. Often books of the period, on all subjects, contain at their backs listings of volumes (especially recent ones) that might be had at various affiliated circulating libraries. These lists can provide excellent barometers and road maps of the reading habits of those readerships associated with the various circulating libraries. They provide yet another documentary source of the sort of demographic evidence which we have not yet, frankly, sorted through to the extent that we really ought to do. I have tried here to pose a variety of questions—and even a few preliminary answers, or at least some attempts at answers—that seem to me to follow from the interrelations that have historically attended our scholarship and the curricular paradigms that have shaped it and that continue to influence, in often subtle but nevertheless inescapable ways, the teaching that we do. As they always are for most of us, scholarship and teaching are intertwined in ways that reflect who each of us is, but in ways, too, that we need to acknowledge—when we stop to look carefully—have served in large part to determine (or even predetermine) who we are, professionally. We shape ourselves—and we shape others—as we have ourselves been shaped, both by those who taught us and by the institutional parameters and practices that underlie teaching and scholarship alike. Questions like the ones I have asked in this essay, which directly interrogate matters of literary, intellectual, aesthetic, and cultural “crossover,” are essential to reconfiguring our conception of British Romanticism at this time when so much of the profession is engaged in rigorous self-assessment. Addressing these questions requires bringing together in new dialogues scholars whose disciplinary bases lie principally in one genre but whose work can be significantly enhanced and broadened through discussion and collaborative research with colleagues working primarily in the other genres. This sort of collective enterprise, which is itself inherently Romantic in its dialogical, community orientation, offers us extraordinary new opportunities for discovering resonances among diverse lives, texts, and other artifacts of British Romanticism.

14 William St. Clair. The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period. On reading societies and circulating libraries, see especially Chapter 13, “Reading constituencies.”

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Chapter 12

Learning from Excess: Emily Dickinson and Bettine von Arnim’s Die Günderode Kari Lokke University of California, Davis

“Her wagon was hitched to a star” – and who could ride or write with such a voyager? A Damascus blade gleaming and glancing in the sun was her wit. Her swift poetic rapture was like the long glistening note of a bird one hears in the June woods at high noon, but can never see. Susan Dickinson’s obituary for Emily Dickinson printed in the Springfield Republican

In March 1805, the German Romantic poet Karoline von Günderode wrote to Heidelberger classicist Friedrich Creuzer proposing, in answer to his attempt to extract a promise from her that she would not take her own life, an act of Liebestod as the culmination and ultimate meaning of their relationship: The friendship that I meant to have with you was a union for life and death. Is that too serious for you? Or too irrational? Once upon a time you seemed to attach great importance to the idea of dying with me, and of pulling me down to join you if you should die before me. But now you have much weightier things to consider—that I could still prove useful in the world somehow, and then it would be a pity if you were to be the cause of my dying young. Now you expect me to follow your example and think the same thoughts about you. That is a kind of rationality that I do not understand. (“The Shadow of a Dream” 165-66)

A year and a half later, when Creuzer refused to leave his wife and instead offered up on the altar of his love for Günderode what he termed “the finest flower of [his] male intellect” (“The Shadow of a Dream” 166), a study of classical mythology, she walked down to the Rhine and stabbed herself to death in the heart. Many years afterward, returning to the scene of Günderode’s suicide, her fellow German Romantic Achim von Arnim lamented the lack of cultural acknowledgment for the young poet’s genius: “Poor singer, can the Germans of our time do nothing but keep silent about what is beautiful, forget what is excellent, and desecrate what is earnest?” (“The Shadow of a Dream” 170). As if in response to her husband’s query, more than thirty years after her friend’s self-inflicted death, Bettine von Arnim, youthful friend and correspondent of Karoline von Günderode, gathered together their letters along with Günderode’s poems, plays, philosophical dialogues and essays and wove them


Romantic Border Crossings

together into a lyrical epistolary novel published in 1840. Honoring Karoline von Günderode in this fashion also brought her back to life culturally, for as Konstanze Bäumer has emphasized, the appearance of Die Günderode was the impetus for the first edition of her collected works published in 1857 (32). This essay traces the cultural echoes of Arnim’s record of Karoline’s performance of Liebestod, both in her life and art, and suggests that they made their way into Emily Dickinson’s poetry through the vehicle of Arnim’s book written in her honor. The ideas and associations presented here were developed in dialogue with Lilach Lachman whose contribution will emphasize Dickinson’s radical departures from Arnim’s Romanticism. In the United States, Bettine von Arnim was already known and celebrated in American transcendentalist circles for her fictionalized portrait of her friendship with and adulation of Goethe, Goethe’s Correspondence with a Child, an earlier epistolary novel published in 1835, that had included her moving account of Günderode’s suicide. Of the author of this work, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote to Margaret Fuller, “What can be richer and nobler than that woman’s nature? What life more pure and poetic amid the prose and derision of our time? So pure a love of Nature I never found in prose or verse” (Luedtke and Schleiner 408). Indeed he rated her higher than both Germaine de Staël and George Sand, calling her “a finer genius … more real than either, more witty, as profound, & greatly more readable” (Luedtke and Schleiner 409). Boston and Concord were overtaken with a Bettina craze such that Louisa May Alcott imagined herself an American Bettine with Emerson serving as her Goethe. And Fuller herself, responding to Arnim’s Die Günderode, wrote an article for the Dial of January 1842 entitled “Bettine Brentano and Her Friend Günderode” in preparation for the publication of her own translation of segments of Arnim’s novel, which appeared later that year. Emily Dickinson was introduced to Bettine von Arnim’s Die Günderode by her editor Thomas Higginson who considered Arnim, along with Wordsworth and Thoreau, as the “three human foster-children who have been taken nearest into Nature’s bosom” (St. Armand 11) and by her dear friend Susan Gilbert who likely had been given a copy of Fuller’s 1842 translation of the novel by Austin Dickinson in 1850. Arnim’s impact on Susan Gilbert Dickinson should not be underestimated. Four decades later, she made it clear to Higginson that she considered Die Günderode a model of generic richness and perhaps also emotional intensity for her proposed edition of Emily Dickinson’s poems that had been preempted by the more limited and conventional edition of Higginson and Mabel Loomis Todd. She had envisaged, she writes, a volume that “would have been rather more full, and varied, than yours as I would have used many bits of her prose—passages from the early letters quite surpassing the correspondence of Gunderodi with Bettine …” (St. Armand 11). As for Emily Dickinson’s response to Die Günderode, Barton St. Armand suggests that this lyrical epistolary novel not only “helped to shape [her] private mythology of the self as well as to set the terms for the poses she assumed in her correspondence with Higginson, Susan Dickinson, and the unknown lover of the Master letters” but also touched “the deepest springs of the poet’s inner life” (St. Armand 12). If St. Armand is correct, then the paucity of scholarship devoted to the relationships among the writings of Karoline von Günderode, Bettine von Arnim, and Emily Dickinson is much to be regretted. I know of only one article—Rebecca

Emily Dickinson and Bettine von Arnim’s Die Günderode


Patterson’s published in 1967 in the Midwest Quarterly —that examines the legacy of Die Günderode in Dickinson’s poetry. In part this may reflect the isolationist tendencies of American literary studies. It also reflects the fact that Arnim and Günderode are unfortunately little known outside of the world of Germanistik and that the only English translation is the archaic and awkward one begun by Fuller and completed by one Minna Wesselhoeft.1 Equally significant is the fact that the lack of recognition accorded the Susan/Emily Dickinson correspondence in earlier Dickinson scholarship and editing practices, the refusal to honor Susan’s role as her sister-in-law’s literary collaborator and confidante, her primary and most trusted audience, as Martha Nell Smith describes her, mirrors or is mirrored by an analogous repression of the potential significance for Emily Dickinson of Arnim’s record of her intellectual, spiritual and erotic dialogue with Karoline von Günderode. Certainly the unconventionality of these relationships and the forms of expression they took present a challenge to critical understanding. Like the intense relationship between Emily and Susan, the Bettine-Karoline bond defied categorization, combining, as it did, mentoring, romantic friendship and erotic passion. And just as the Dickinson correspondence encompassed “an astonishing range of writings” (Smith 59), so Die Günderode is both fiction and nonfiction, poetry and prose, autobiography and biography, epistolary novel and philosophical treatise. Certainly comparative studies of Arnim’s Die Günderode and Dickinson’s correspondence with her sister in law should yield fascinating insights into the particularity of her genius as well as offering new understandings of her relation to the cosmopolitan European women’s Romanticism that for Fuller and Emerson was typified by Arnim, Germaine de Staël and George Sand. This is particularly true given the fact that the Schwebe-Religion, the “floating” or “hovering” religion that Bettine and Karoline seek to found in their intellectual life together, a religion of what they term heroic or courageous accomplishment in the insignificant and everyday, clearly served as a model for the Dickinson correspondence’s challenge to traditional demarcations between the poetic and domestic. As Martha Nell Smith writes, “Clearly integrating the spiritual, complexly cerebral, and exceptional with the quotidian and mundane, these women shared recipes and household news, as well as critiques of literature and speculation about God and eternity, often within a few lines of writing” (61–2).2 Furthermore, Emily and Susan’s intimate correspondence is imbued with the rebelliousness—erotic, intellectual and spiritual—so characteristic of Bettine’s exchange with Karoline as Arnim (re)writes it in Die Günderode.3 Here, 1 According to Rebecca Patterson, this Minna Wesselhoeft was likely related to the homeopathic Doctor William Wesselhoeft who treated Emily Dickinson in 1851 (Armand 43–4). The web of connections between Die Günderode and Dickinson seems complex and intricate, even if ultimately untraceable. All quotations from Die Günderode are from this translation with occasional modernizations of archaic forms such as “thee” and “thou” and “shouldst” or “wouldst.” 2 Ironically, Nell Smith does not mention the existence of Die Günderode, referring to the Arnim-Günderode bond as “a friendship celebrated by Goethe” (56) and “a relationship that was written up in Goethe’s Correspondence with a Child” (65). 3 To distinguish between author and fictional creation, I use first names, Bettine and Karoline, to refer to the poetic personas created by Arnim, and surnames, Arnim and


Romantic Border Crossings

for example, a young and exuberant Emily rejects institutionalized religion in favor of their private religion of Love: “The bells are ringing, Susie, … and the people who love God, are expecting to go to meeting; don’t you go, Susie, not to their meeting, but come with me this morning to the church within our hearts, where the bells are always ringing, and the preacher whose name is Love—shall intercede there for us!” (Open Me Carefully 14–15). And Susan Gilbert’s projected but never completed volume of Dickinson’s poetry emphasizing “poetry’s integration with quotidian experience, Emily’s intellectual prowess, and her philosophical interrogations of the spiritual, corporeal, emotional and mental realms” (Smith 69), would likely have resembled Arnim’s tribute to her beloved friend. Such comparison, however, far exceeds the boundaries of this paper; here I can only delineate a few key attributes of Arnim and Günderode’s writings and begin to pose questions about their possible resonance in or significance for Dickinson’s poetic development. It’s certainly worth asking if and in what way these German Romantic women writers might have served as muses for our great nineteenthcentury American woman poet. In the latter half of this essay, then, I will focus upon the eroticization of death in Karoline von Günderode’s life and poetry as it was refigured and presented to the world by Bettine von Arnim. In her 1842 article announcing her forthcoming translation of Die Günderode, Fuller writes: “We learn by excess, we thrive on error, but only where reactions and convictions come in their due alternation” (62). Though Fuller termed their correspondence “an ideal relation realized” (29), and praised Bettine’s “fresh, fragrant and vigorous genius,” (“Translator’s Preface” vi), she clearly did not feel that the extravagant Arnim had learned all she should have from her sister soul and preferred both the poetry and person of Günderode to that of Arnim. And Arnim’s writing is still to this day belittled for its unabashed idealism, passionate exuberance, refusal of conventional punctuation, generic mélange, lack of formal coherence, and blatant strategies of reader manipulation. I view Arnim’s novel in a much more favorable light and present it here in the hopes that Dickinson scholars will wish to explore it further in order to understand what she might have learned from the excesses, both emotional and rhetorical, of Arnim’s Die Günderode and the tragic figure at its heart. I focus on the role that the dramatization of an address to a lover or reader— figured as a teacher or pupil—plays in the constitution of poetic self in Arnim. Early on in their correspondence, Bettine sets herself up as admiring student of Karoline, five years older and already a published poet. In response to a dialogue between Pupil and Teacher sent her by Karoline, she writes “I am the pupil, who will strive, with all his force to make what he has heard his own, and from this doctrine, my future happiness shall blossom, not because I have learnt, but because I feel it; it has become a seed in me, and takes deep root” (9). In accepting her pedagogical role, Karoline simultaneously declares herself Bettine’s student:

Günderode, to refer to the historical personages/authors. Each of their names has variant spellings. I chose the spellings that seemed to me most common in the relevant scholarship— “Bettine” as opposed to “Bettina” and “Günderode” as opposed to “Günderrode.”

Emily Dickinson and Bettine von Arnim’s Die Günderode


It seems to me sometimes quite too absurd, dear Bettine, that you should, with such solemnity, declare yourself my pupil, when I might as well hold myself yours; yet it gives me much pleasure, and there is, also, a truth in it, if the teacher feels himself stimulated by the student, thus may I call myself yours. [A]nd since you are so loving as to name yourself my pupil, I may sometimes marvel to see what kind of bird I have hatched. (9)

This mutuality and interchangeability of student/teacher roles is evident in the poses Bettine strikes throughout the correspondence and particularly in her choice of the Platonic dialogue as model for these two female philosophers, seeking, in their Schwebe-Religion, to “turn the world on its head,” as she puts it. On the castle on the hill, in the night-dew, it was fair to be with you. Those were the dearest hours of all my life; and, when I return, we … will have our beds close together, and talk all night, and then the wind will rise and make the old roof clatter, and the mice will come and suck the oil from the lamp, while we two philosophers, though now and then interrupted by these pretty interludes, hold grand and profound speculations, enough to make the old world creak on its rusty hinges, if not to turn quite round. (24–5)

These two female philosophers, she suggests, should play the roles of Plato and his protégé Dion, who was called by his mentor “to great heroic deeds” and sought to establish rulership of Syracuse as a philosopher king implementing Platonic principles. At the same time, however, that she is Plato’s protégé, Bettine also enacts the part of Plato’s great teacher Socrates who, legend has it, dreamt he was holding a swan—a bird associated with prophecy and sacred to Apollo—in his lap the night before he met Plato, a swan that eventually took flight.4 And just as Karoline broods over her chicklet Bettine, so Bettine becomes a Socrates enamored of a swan ready to spread its wings in flight. We love each other tenderly, and would give our lives for one another, were it required; for nothing would please me better than to give my life for you. … To offer up my life for Plato, the great teacher of the world, the heavenly youthful spirit. … Yes, so will I name you in the future, Plato. I will also give you a pet-name, and call you Swan, as Socrates named you, and you call me Dion. Here a great deal of hemlock grows in the wet, marshy ground. I do not fear it; although it is poison, it is to me a sacred plant; I break it off as I pass, and touch it to my lips, because Socrates drank that draught of it. Dear Plato, it is my amulet that shall heal me from all weakness, so that I may not fear death, if it comes rightfully. Good-night, my Swan; go to sleep on the altar of Eros. (25)

The effort to merge with the beloved is by definition excessive in its impossibility, in a sense demanding to be resolved in death so that two can become one and then requiring its dramatization as the paradoxical possibility for the poet to re-gain her position as subject. Here Bettine performs a witch-like, homeopathic ritual to ward 4 Paul Friedländer notes that Plato depicts his encounter with Socrates as a fable. “Socrates, dreaming, sees a fledgling swan sitting on his knees, which soon grows wings and flies away with sweet song. In front of the theater of Dionysos, Plato burns the tragedy that he is about to have performed—after he has heard Socrates. Socrates must have known that he had found his greatest disciple, Plato that he had encountered a power that was to be decisive for his life” (129).

Romantic Border Crossings


off her fear of death and also perhaps her own impulse to self-destruction even as she seems to accept the sleep/death of her beloved. This performance of death calls forth “reactions and convictions” (62) as Fuller puts it, in the intercourse between poet and beloved as well as between poet and audience, such that a new poetic subjectivity comes into being. I move from the performance of death and nothingness in the work of Karoline von Günderode to the transformations of this performance in Arnim’s novel dedicated to her. This staging of death comes about through conversation with ghosts, both historical and personal, as well as the showcasing of the death wish central to Karoline von Günderode’s life and art. Arnim’s Eros seeks to come to terms with the Thanatos that dominates her friend’s poetry and personal fate. In the end Arnim’s tribute to her beloved friend and the effort to revivify her turns into its opposite as Bettine canonizes Günderode and then replaces her in the role of quintessential Romantic poet, newly defined. Well before she had ever met Friedrich Creuzer, Günderode had been preoccupied with death and had already made it the centerpiece of her poetry. The sonnet “The Dream Kiss” is emblematic of her depiction of death as a realm of erotic and poetic fulfillment. It begins with the paradoxical assertion that death and darkness, constituting her chosen partners and interlocutors, bring her life and pleasure: “A kiss once breathed life into me, / Stilled deepest longing in my breast. / Come, darkness! Come with your caress, / That my lips may suckle blissfully” (Cocalis 27). Similarly, the concluding tercet celebrates the healing powers of darkness over light, water over fire, forgetfulness over memory, and obscurity over illumination. “Eye, take shelter from the luster of such earthly lights! / Wrap yourself in night, she will still your cries, / And heal the pain, like the cool, deep waves of Lethe” (Cocalis 27). This longing for death is also clearly a spiritual longing as her powerful poem “The Pilgrims” which prefigures her act of suicide suggests: “The cure is bitter, / The journey long, / But I reach for the staff / And heal my wrong.”5 Though one can read the Todestrieb that prevails in Günderode’s poetry in many ways, she herself describes it to Bettine’s brother, the Romantic poet Clemens Brentano, who questions the wisdom of her decision to publish her poetry, as inseparable from a pilgrimage or quest, both spiritual and erotic, to create poetry that will make her worthy of joining what she terms the immortal ranks of the truly great artists: “[T]there comes to me, ever new and vital, the longing (Sehnsucht) to express my life in an enduring form, in a figure which makes me worthy to join the most excellent, to greet them and to keep them company. Indeed, I have always desired (gelüstet) to belong to this company, it is the church toward which my spirit ever makes its pilgrimage upon this earth” (“The Shadow of a Dream” 150). As this statement implies, she imagines death as both an object of erotic longing and as synonymous with poetic canonization, a state that will unite her with an ideal audience, one clearly lacking in a world filled with detractors such as Brentano who sought to discourage her from publishing her work. At the same time, she fears that her writing itself is dead, that it will never lead her to immortal life. In one of her last letters from Die Günderode, she communicates a stark vision to Bettine: “Even the most truthful letters … are mere corpses, mere mementos of a life that was; they 5

Quoted in Blackwell and Zantop, 1.

Emily Dickinson and Bettine von Arnim’s Die Günderode


resemble the living, yet the impulse of their life is past; therefore when I read what I have written some time ago, I think I see myself lying in my coffin, staring at my other self in astonishment” (292). In her novel devoted to Günderode, Arnim seeks to position herself as ideal reader of her friend’s work and life in order to continue the dialogue begun in their youth and perhaps also to prove that it was not necessary for her to die in order to find erotic or aesthetic fulfillment. In her earlier novel, Goethe’s Correspondence with a Child, Arnim had already claimed for herself the position of representative public for Günderode’s poetry: “She read her poems to me and was as well pleased with my applause as if I had been the great Public; and indeed I was full of lively eagerness to hear them” (32). If, as Juhasz and Miller assert in “Performances of gender in Dickinson’s poetry,” reading is not just interactive but also performative, implying a particular enactment of a work of art, then Arnim’s lyrical novel constitutes a sustained performance of her beloved friend’s writings, produced with the aim of acknowledging all she has learned from her friend and bringing her back to life in a form that suited Arnim’s life-affirming temperament rather than Karoline’s more melancholy, death driven one. I hope that my focus on Arnim as a reader of Günderode will also stimulate discussion of Dickinson as their reader/student who may have enacted elements of those readings in her poetry, finding brilliant ways both to illuminate and to suspend the Eros-Thanatos opposition so starkly embodied in the lives and works of her two German counterparts. Fittingly, Karoline herself sanctions this manner of reading her work as a particular or partial enactment in the previously referred to Socratic dialogue between student and teacher entitled “The Shades” that Arnim places at the beginning of her novel. Tormented by the elusiveness of the historical great who haunt his memory as he seeks to recapture or reconstruct the past, the student experiences his mind as “a deep pit from which the shadows of the past are flitting upwards” (3). As if in answer to Karoline’s fears expressed much later in the novel, that her writings are mere “corpses,” Bettine answers her with Karoline’s own previous assertion that spirits of the past do not die, but live on in like minded members of future generations. “Nothing is lost. … Truly, that life alone is continued in you which your mind is fitted to receive, in so far as it is congenial. … Death is a chemical process, a separation, but not annihilation of powers. It does not break the bond between me and a mind like mine” (4). This inner harmony between spirits of the living and dead makes possible contact between the two realms, Geisterumgang or concourse with the dead as Arnim terms it. The echoes of Die Günderode in Dickinson’s letters and poetry seem to confirm this belief in such communication or “immediate relations” (4) between spirits of the past and present. As Arnim indicated in a letter to Julius Döring, the scene of writing Die Günderode was one of resurrection, both cozy and uncanny: The past has become so vivid to me that I could not say like Thomas “Let me put my fingers in your wound so that I may believe it is really you.” Günderode stands before me, and she often calls me away from my place when the light burns in the evening. [She stands] there in the corner where the tall green pines have stood since Christmas, reaching the ceiling in front of my sofa, and then I wrap myself in my coat because I cannot resist

Romantic Border Crossings


going to meet her in my thoughts, and then sleep overcomes me. … But in the daytime, I feel so close to everything in the past that I am absolutely convinced of the enduring presence of everything which we have truly experienced. (Wolf, “Your Next Life Begins Today” 203)

The gothic doubling evoked by Karoline’s vision of her own corpse in a coffin, of absolute opposition between life and death, of claustrophobic life in death and death in life, is replaced by a sense of harmony between living and dead, body and spirit, outer and inner, objective and subjective. Though the same ghosts seem to haunt Dickinson and Günderode, Arnim’s certainty banishes any sense of the gothic hesitation or uncertainty that Daneen Wardrop has shown to be so essential to Dickinson’s poetics.6 One can read this scene of writing as an expression of faith in the Romantic dictum that lovers will be united in death, as for example Lotte suggests at the conclusion of Book One of The Sorrows of Young Werther before her shimmering white form leaves the novel’s sobbing hero emotionally shattered. But Lotte was a character Arnim detested, finding her insipid and even claiming that if she herself had served as a model for Goethe’s heroine, Werther would never have committed suicide! Rather than sentimentally suggesting that lovers meet in death, Arnim, I think, is asserting that the human imagination can embody them so that they can meet in this world, thus expressing her idealist faith in the absolute power of the spirit to bring the dead back to life. The question of suicide inevitably haunts Arnim’s novel, as Karoline’s repeated assertions of her desire to die young are countered by Bettine’s belief that old age can and should represent life’s “perfect blossom.” Significantly, though the reader is familiar with the circumstances of Günderode’s death, Arnim refuses to portray her friend as Sappho or Ariadne, the stereotypic abandoned woman and never once mentions Karoline’s love for Creuzer or for any other man. Instead, Arnim chooses as Karoline’s final letter one that emphasizes her sense of entrapment, her fear that she will never be able to fulfill her desires or accomplish her aims because of what she terms the “narrow confines [that] are drawn for my sphere of action” (325). Noting Bettine’s energy of character, she asserts that, had she been born a man, Bettine would have been a hero; as a woman she must await a future life, rebirth into “a more active age,” to assert this character. She is no doubt also speaking of herself here, for she had written years previously to Bettine’s sister, Gunda, that after reading Ossian, my old desire to die a hero’s death seized me with great intensity. … Why wasn’t I born a man! I have no taste for women’s virtues, women’s delights. I like only what is wild, great, glorious. There is an unfortunate but irremediable disproportion in my soul, and so it must and will remain. … This is why I am so changeable and out of harmony with myself. (“Shadow of a Dream” 131)

Again, we see in her a sense of absolute conflict and unbrookable opposition, this time between male and female. In the end, Karoline is unable to live up to the standards of the religion of female heroism in daily life, a religion of transfigured Unbedeutenheit 6

See Daneen Wardrop. Emily Dickinson’s Gothic: Goblin with a Gauge.

Emily Dickinson and Bettine von Arnim’s Die Günderode


(insignificance), of the floating or hovering and suspension between opposites that she herself had proposed to her younger admirer. She is undone by an enemy within and chooses a death that tragically parodies/replicates the masculinist heroism she so admired. Within the “narrow confines” of her sphere of action, Dickinson, in contrast, finds and expresses an amplitude and depth of experience recorded both in her correspondence with Susan Gilbert and, as Lilach shows, in her remarkable poetic practice.7 In Günderode’s case, it is left to Bettine von Arnim to worship at the altar of their mutually conceived Schwebe-Religion and pass it on to the future. At the same time self-preservation demands that she proclaim her own independence from her friend’s reification of the masculine/feminine divide, her ethos of violence and aesthetic of death. Early on in the epistolary exchange, her response to what she terms Karoline’s sadness and coldness makes clear her need for self-definition in relation to her friend’s death wish: “there is a mirror before my eyes as though a veil had been removed from them; … I see nothing but clouds and moaning winds as though I must weep forever when I think of you” (150). Honoring her friend’s desire for canonization, she offers a vision of Günderode’s poetry at the end of the novel that situates it as Romantic precursor to the Symbolism and Apollonian formality of Baudelaire, Valéry, Mallarmé, and George: In your poems I feel what seems a silent array of pillars across a distant plain; against the far horizon the outlines of mountains swell softly like the waves of the summer-sea, rising and falling … all is lost in silent worship of this sacred symmetry. Passions, poured like libations upon the hearth of the gods by the pure priestesses, gently flame upwards. (242)

In the earlier Goethe’s Correspondence with a Child, Arnim had described a gift she received from Karoline the last time they met—a statue of Apollo for which Karoline had fashioned a wreath of laurel, covered by a bell jar. Here Arnim is acknowledging her younger self as Günderode’s poetic successor. At the same time, the chaotic prose poetry of this novel dedicated to her ultimately transforms or perhaps even refuses Günderode’s Apollonian Symbolist legacy even as it rejects her desire to join a community of canonical poets: “I cannot make poems like you, Günderode, but I can talk with nature, when alone with her” (24), she writes. In a characteristic gesture of Romantic irony, she redefines poetry as erotic dialogue with nature rather than transcendence of nature through death and fixity of form. Assuming her reader’s knowledge of Günderode’s suicide on the banks of the Rhine, Arnim furthermore transforms her friend’s tragic death into a Lohengrin-like eternal return that recalls the Platonic imagery of swan taking flight into the future. “Yes, I see you, swan! Holding converse with the whispering sedges by the shore, and the soft wind that you gaze after, as it bears onward your sighs, far, far over the waters, no messenger returning to say if they ever landed …” (243). The question of exactly how her sighs and whispers landed in the mind and heart of Emily Dickinson is still open.

7 “Specifically,” Juhasz and Miller write, “Dickinson both constructs alternatives to a traditional, fixed binary gender system (woman/man) and opens opportunities for the reader to perform alternative genderings” (107).

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PART V American and Transatlantic Border Crossings

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Chapter 13

A Uniform Hieroglyphic: Crossing Race and Ethnicity in Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (1855) Jeanne Cortiel University of Dortmund

For such the expression of the American poet is to be transcendent and new. It is to be indirect and not direct or descriptive or epic. Its quality goes through these to much more. (8) Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Whitman’s first edition of Leaves of Grass—which is now widely considered his most radical, and in many respects most transgressive work—came out in 1855, at a moment of intense activity in and around discourses of race and nationhood.1 A year earlier, Josiah Nott and George Gliddon, a physician and an Egyptologist, had published the monumental volume Types of Mankind (1854), whose argument for polygenesis—which conceptualized race as species rather than variety—was extensively and controversially discussed in the public media. At the same time, American ‘Egyptomania’ (Trafton), the enthusiastic reception of material artifacts from and visual representations or narrative expositions of pharaonic Egypt that had its point of departure in the French occupation of Egypt beginning in 1798, reached a high point. The period of occupation had been accompanied by a large-scale scholarly enterprise, which laid the foundation for Egyptology and of which arguably the most momentous early result was the discovery and eventual deciphering of the Rosetta Stone. Crossing boundaries of time and space, the figure of Egypt had a duplicitous function in nineteenth-century U.S. culture: it served to both create a coherent American national identity apart from Europe, as well as to oppose this very coherent identity (cf. Trafton 4). In the light of the symbolic saturation and complexity of this spatially and temporally removed culture, it is hardly surprising that Egypt would 1 For arguments about Whitman and race, consult Dana Phillips, “Nineteenth-Century Racial Thought and Whitman’s Democratic Ethnology of the Future;” Martin Klammer, Whitman, Slavery, and the Emergence of Leaves of Grass; Ed Folsom, “Lucifer and Ethiopia: Whitman, Race, and Poetics before the Civil War and After;” Malini Johar Schueller, U.S. Orientalisms: Race, Nation, and Gender in Literature, 1790–1890; Paul H. Outka, “Whitman and Race (‘He’s Queer, He’s Unclear, Get Used to It’);” and George Hutchinson, “Race and the Family Romance: Whitman’s Civil War.”


Romantic Border Crossings

become a crucial force in Walt Whitman’s poetic experiments. And indeed, his own participation in the fascination with Egypt and Egyptology began at the same time that he composed and first published “Song of Myself” (Tapscott 51) and Egypt would become a crucial reference point in all of his work. If it is true that Egypt, American national identity, and race are inextricably linked, as recent scholarship has convincingly demonstrated (Trafton; Schueller), and Whitman’s poetry is significantly shaped by a fascination with Egypt, as Tapscott argued as early as 1978, then there is a whole new set of questions to be asked in terms of race and ethnicity in Whitman’s texts. Whitman scholars so far have largely looked at Whitman’s Egypt and his racial politics as separate phenomena. Specifically, criticism on Egypt in Whitman has primarily been interested in how his poetry and prose use Egyptian culture as source or as metaphor, not in the symbolic value of Egypt itself, much less in how this use of Egypt is relevant to the text’s interventions in contemporary conceptualizations of race. Expanding the analysis of the American fascination with Egypt by one of its driving components—the systematic racialization of the world based upon slavery—therefore enables a fresh look upon what the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass does to repeat, perform and transform contemporary notions of racial typing. This paper reads Whitman’s 1855 Leaves of Grass, particularly the poem that later became “Song of Myself,” next to mid-nineteenth century discourses around Egypt. My key argument is that focusing on the oblique figure of Egypt in Whitman’s work, rather than on his direct representations of blackness or whiteness, brings a radial cultural otherness to the act of reading in a manner that unravels the complex ways in which his texts absorb, shape and rework racial alterity and selfhood. Conversely, opening the reading of race in Whitman’s poetry to the paradoxical figure of Egypt clearly demonstrates that it is not only impossible to pin down the text’s collusion with ethnological racist typing, but that the very attempt makes the text slip away from the reading. The critical response to Whitman is an important component of this analysis, situated as it is in a cultural moment in which both race and Egypt have moved through many conceptual transformations. I—Whitman, Race, and Egypt Research on cultural difference and encounter in Leaves of Grass has recently begun to focus on race, largely directing the analysis to the ways in which Whitman represented black characters in his poetry, and to how Whitman’s own racial attitudes are expressed in his statements about African Americans in his prose. In these analyses, Whitman himself as a historical figure becomes a cultural artifact that serves to mediate between Leaves of Grass and its varying cultural contexts throughout the second half of the nineteenth century. Placing Whitman center stage, much of this criticism explicitly or implicitly examines the tensions between his journalistic writing, which emerges as disappointingly racist, and his poetry, which urges in the opposite direction towards universal human equality. These readings diagnose either a puzzling contradiction between his poetry and prose or, more recently (Outka), identify a continuity in the eroticizing power of the racist taboo

Crossing Race and Ethnicity in Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (1855)


placed upon the black body, the source of which lies in Whitman’s journalism and the expression in his poetry. From a different perspective, Martin Klammer’s important book on how race and slavery figure in Whitman’s writing provides an extensive analysis and exposition of the development of Whitman’s racial attitudes up to the first edition of Leaves of Grass. Another milestone in the study of race in Whitman, Ed Folsom’s comprehensive chapter on “Whitman, Race, and Politics” in the Historical Guide to Walt Whitman (2000), not only makes available a thorough overview over previous research on the issue, but also develops insightful and deep readings of how Whitman transformed the racial politics of Leaves of Grass through its successive editions. Folsom takes the elimination of “Black Lucifer” from “The Sleepers” and the introduction of the old black woman in “Ethiopia saluting the colors” as paradigmatic expressions of this transformation. My interest here lies in the moment of intersection between Klammer’s and Folsom’s readings, the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass. I read the 1855 edition not as an early stage in Whitman’s development as a writer and historical figure but as how it participates in its particular cultural moment. This approach provides not a snapshot of the historical development, but a suspension of this historical narrative to enter a dialog with the text now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The object is not to isolate the text from its context, but to look at the moment of the text’s first public appearance as it is present now, and to trace some of its transtextual interconnections to analyze how this particular text conceptualizes cultural encounter and difference. This reference to the “nowness” of the act of reading here does not suggest analyzing the contemporary reception of Leaves of Grass, much less does it attempt to define and delineate the continued relevance of the text. Rather, “now” refers to the place or location of reading, paradoxically temporal as it is. Thus, “now” condenses the necessity for such a location in a dialog with the text. Although my reading of the 1855 Leaves of Grass is informed by and builds on all of the work on Whitman’s racial politics discussed above, Paul Outka’s queering of these politics is most relevant to my analysis here. In effect, Outka shows that it is counterproductive to try to come to terms with the question of whether Whitman was racist or not, whether there was a development in his racism, and how, if he was a racist, he could write poetry that seems to transcend this racism. Outka revisits the split between Whitman’s prose and his poetry in the question of racism and examines the critical response to this split (294, 298). Depending on whether the critic prioritizes Whitman’s poetry or his prose as relevant to determining his racial views, the verdict is that Whitman seamlessly shared his culture’s racism or that he was able to transcend it. Outka himself sidesteps the troublesome—and ultimately futile—attempt to extrapolate Whitman’s views from his writing asking “not what Whitman believed about race, but what his poetry does to it” (301). In analogy to the recent ‘queering’ of the question of Whitman’s sexuality, which finds it pleasurably indeterminate, Outka performs an interesting if somewhat problematic move to ‘queer’ the poet’s racism: “Rather than posing a problem for Whitman, a contradiction he tried to repress, it seems to me that his racism in fact provided a poetic possibility, the sort of internalized social taboo shot through with repressed eroticism that the poetic voice loved to work against, indeed a voice that found itself in that work” (301). Thus to Outka, “The racist journalist and the progressive


Romantic Border Crossings

poet form not a contradiction or continuum, but a circuit, the binding and release of eroticized political energies” (302). Outka thus turns the question of racism on its head, reading it as positive energy that enables moments of transition in the text, rather than trying to nail down a definitive answer. While I find this approach extremely compelling, I would like to extend and radicalize its conclusions. I think it is useful to wholly suspend the fascination with Whitman’s—or his poetic voice’s—own poetic or erotic pleasure, as well as to move away from a sole focus on black characters in his texts to identify traces of how race and racism operate indirectly in the texts. Outka’s reading and other studies on Whitman’s racial politics importantly reveal how Whitman participates in and pushes against the ways in which difference is organized in his culture, but the concept of “race” as it is made to operate here to my mind is both too broad and too narrow. It covers everything that distinguishes a black figure from Whitman’s racially and ethnically unmarked characters, but at the same time it limits the view, indeed gaze, to the black characters in the text: the burden of signifying race falls on the slave, the black dray driver, the “negro” in general, but not the white-bellied swimmers or the relation among them. Such a focus necessarily follows and repeats the text’s gaze upon the slave and the black man or woman. Yet race is an overdetermined, relational cultural force that does not disclose the complexity of its operation when it is analyzed in isolation. It is perhaps necessary to discuss race not as a cultural paradigm but as a continually shifting performance that only works in interrelation with other fields of difference such as ethnicity and nationhood. Such ephemeral operations best open their interpretive potential through close attention to indirection, a circuitous reading towards the text’s points of convergence. For such a reading it is useful to look at textual forces that operate at the point where race emerges as a shifting, relational cultural marker in tension with other markers of difference. The figure of Egypt is precisely such a force. Following the work of Malini Schueller and others, Scott Trafton has recently shown conclusively how nineteenth-century ‘Egyptomania’ was inseparably linked to reconceptualizations of race. American School ethnology, inaugurated by pamphlets such as George Gliddon’s Ancient Egypt (1843) and particularly Gliddon’s and Joshua Nott’s volume Types of Mankind (1854), created Egypt as a volatile symbol in the context of racial difference. Ethnology at the time devoted a significant part of its energy and space to proving through cranial and other evidence that, just like their vision of the American citizenry, Egyptians where white and controlled a black servant class. As an ancient African civilization it thus had a central position in the debate on whether black and white were equally human and heirs to biblical humanity or products of separate creations. The racializing figure of Egypt brings in another relevant body of research to the question of Whitman and race, research that is focused on determining the impact Whitman’s fascination with Egypt had upon his work.2 From these readings 2 For work about Whitman’s relationship to Egypt, see Robert D. Richardson, Myth and Literature in the American Renaissance; Stephen J. Tapscott, “Leaves of Myself: Whitman’s Egypt in ‘Song of Myself’;” John T. Irwin, American Hieroglyphics: The Symbol of the Egyptian Hieroglyphics in the American Renaissance; Rosemary L. Gates, “Egyptian Myth

Crossing Race and Ethnicity in Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (1855)


Whitman’s use of Egypt emerges as twofold: First, his extensive personal readings allowed him to draw on Egyptian culture as thematic and structural source for his own writings and, second, the general contemporary fascination with Egypt fed a metaphorical dimension that allowed him to articulate the new nation and the poetry it enabled. As Stephen J. Tapscott put it: In Egypt Whitman found a fascinating, consistent, and potent set of metaphors. Egypt was not the only source, of course, for many of these notions, nor was it the only culture in which Whitman was interested; but in his study of the literature, religion, art, and ideogrammic language of the ancient Egyptians, Whitman found a rich tradition which contributed to the imagery, to the conceptual underpinnings, and to the ‘democratic’ structure of his own hieroglyphic poem (73).

In his article on Egypt in “Song of Myself,” Tapscott demonstrates the significance of ancient Egyptian culture as source and symbol, linking Whitman’s notion of the body, resurrection and particularly the equality of life before God to ancient Egyptian literature and religious thought. Tapscott’s detailed reading shows the breadth of Egyptian presence in Whitman’s writing, even though it is never a dominant explicit reference in Leaves of Grass. Especially the Egyptian god Osiris was one of the models for Whitman’s speaking subject, and illustrations of Egyptian myth and monuments inspired Whitman’s own imagery. One famous example is the illustration of Osiris with wheat growing from his chest from Ioppolito Rosellini’s Monumenti dell ‘Egitto e della Nubia (1832–44) which, according to Ester Shepherd, was the source to Whitman’s “Scented Herbage of My Breast.” As Tapscott has indicated, Whitman’s fascination with Egypt rested on the historical origin of this fascination: the discovery and later deciphering of the Rosetta Stone (Tapscott 49). This connection to deciphering and translation makes Tapscott’s interpretation of the text eminently relevant to bringing cultural otherness to the act of reading, even though he does not explore this possibility himself. More recently, in her entry on the Egyptian Museum for the Whitman Encyclopedia, Rosemary Gates Winslow traced Whitman’s use of Egypt and Egyptian lore, drawing on Tapscott’s, Robert D. Richardson’s and her own earlier work. However, even this recent interpretation makes no reference to the ways in which Egypt was symbolically tied to defining racial boundaries at the time, importantly pointing out, however, that “Egyptian ideas provided a pre-European model useful in the rejection of European traditions” (Winslow 200). Thus, these two bodies of Whitman scholarship suggest that in Whitman’s Egypt some of the most powerful cultural tensions of the mid-nineteenth century can be observed as they converge and then again repel each other. Particularly the tension between the urge for cultural cohesion in the first edition of Leaves of Grass and the idea of cultural multiplicity that it necessitated crystallizes in the elusive figure of Egypt. The following close reading of the poem that later became “Song of Myself” traces the specificity of this crystallization as well as its elusiveness, showing how the oblique presence of Egypt in the very act of defining American and Whitman’s ‘Lilacs’”; and Rosemary Gates Winslow, “Egyptian Museum (New York) (1853–59).”


Romantic Border Crossings

national identity operates as a turning point between the gesture towards meaning and its dissolution. II—A Uniform Hieroglyphic Whitman’s references to Egypt became more pronounced in later incarnations of Leaves of Grass, but even in the 1855 edition the figure of Egypt informs or inspires much of the text, even if—or precisely because—it does not have a dominant or even an explicit presence. I turn my attention to a passage that will later become section 6 of “Song of Myself” but remains undesignated in the first version. This section pushes cultural diversity into an oxymoron that expresses both the necessity to attempt communicative exchange and its ultimate impossibility. Through the insistently repeated first person pronoun, the speaker in this passage has a powerful textual presence, yet relinquishes control over his text in a series of unresolved guesses. Placed at the beginning of Leaves of Grass, Whitman’s reference to Egyptian cultural expression participates in opening possible meanings, or areas of relevance, that the grass in the title may invoke: A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands; How could I answer the child? … I do not know what it is any more than he. I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven. Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord, A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped, Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say Whose? Or I guess the grass is itself a child … the produced babe of the vegetation. Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic, And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones, Growing among black folks as among white, Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same. And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves. (31)

The speaker does not arrive at one defining image, but moves through a list of guesses from himself, to God, to the earth, to the ideograph of Egyptian writing, and finally to the dead. For all his claims to ignorance on the question, the speaker’s conjectures are precise. The speaker reports the child as having asked a question, but he does not answer directly, asking another question instead, followed by a list of four guesses. The question is not addressed to the child, however, and the child remains absent as partner in this communicative act, but barely leaves its trace in this question only a child can ask. More precisely, the question first produces childhood as completely open state of inquiry. And as such, the speaker’s third guess returns to the idea of childhood and metaphorically links it to the grass, referencing fertility and creation. The fourth guess, then, crosses to Egypt, if only through the hint at Egyptian script.

Crossing Race and Ethnicity in Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (1855)


As the child represents the question, the hieroglyphic metaphorically encompasses the act of guessing, of questions asked without expectation of an answer. Thus the quintessentially child-like question and the necessarily inadequate gestures towards an answer fold back into themselves, destabilizing the very urge for a fixed relationship between signifier and signified that they first originate in. The text’s “hieroglyphic” grass, as Tapscott and Irwin have particularly emphasized, references Egypt through the figure of writing and deciphering.3 This fourth guess closes the rhythmic repetition of “I guess” and also introduces a conceptual and breakage. It looks at the grass as form, not as metaphorical offspring or as symbolic or inscribed piece of cloth, but as writing itself. However, as writing, the grass must remain paradoxical. I disagree with Tapscott here, who in effect reads “uniform” in this line as “universal” (Tapscott 53). The oxymoronic tension built by the juxtaposition of “uniform” with “hieroglyphic” is significant, and though it may be read as universally difficult to decipher, it certainly depends on the image of sameness in form. Yet writing signifies through difference, and difference only; a uniform system of writing must fail the purpose of objectifiable communication and can only eternally refer back to itself. The sentence following this last guess begins with the promise “And it means,” but never arrives at an unequivocal destination. In gesturing towards the acts of explaining, deciphering and exposition only to lead them into open guesses, this passage unravels those very communicative acts. Comprehension as mastery of the object impotently runs its arbitrary course. This “uniform hieroglyphic” is an oxymoron that condenses the fundamental contradictions through which Leaves of Grass thrives, and which the text most forcefully expresses in the speaker’s erotic gaze on the specific human body. III—Crossing Race It is from the center of this oxymoron, “uniform hieroglyphic,” that the following lines, starting with “And it means …,” become legible as transgressive comment upon the very notion of a “composite American identity” for which Egypt, as Stephen Tapscott maintains (72), served as a model. What is significant to me here is not the explicit claim to sameness and equality, but what happens to the difference that is invoked. With the move to “broad zones and narrow zones” immediately following the reference to the hieroglyphic, the speaker repeats and reverses the kind of categorization performed by contemporary scientists, such as Louis Agassiz in his “Sketch of the Natural Provinces of the Animal World and their Relation to the Different Types of Man” (1854), in which he rigidly aligns flora and fauna of different regions with the humans who natively live there. To Agassiz in this essay, which appeared in Types of Mankind, biogeographical difference translates directly into racial difference (conceived as distinguishing different human species). In this 3 Irwin goes so far as to argue that the whole of Leaves of Grass constitutes a “hieroglyphic bible” (31), a form of pictorial narrative popular in the nineteenth century that presented key biblical stories primarily to children. However, while Irwin’s reading is very perceptive, his critical metaphor does little to analyze the symbolic power of Egypt in Leaves of Grass, but instead repeats and extends it.


Romantic Border Crossings

context, the symbolically uncontrollable grass that grows in all zones both references and undercuts neat taxonomy. Martin Klammer reads these lines focusing—in tune with the major question of his book—on the representation of the African American, which the poem here names “Cuff,” short for “Cuffy,” a name or general appellation for a black man at the time (120). Emphasizing the radical nature of such a vision, Klammer argues, that “the grass here is broadly representative of an egalitarian democracy where all peoples [...] receive equal treatment from the poet” (120). But from a broader perspective on race and ethnicity, there is much more precision and richness in this vision of equality than Klammer’s focused reading suggests. And equality is not even the one answer to the speaker’s open question for meaning. The text offers equality as a possibility, but it only makes sense in the context of vast, virtually unbridgeable differences, lines of demarcation that the speaker phonetically emphasizes through the alliterative repetition of the consonant [k]: “Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff.” These four names repeat and underline the difference framed by the figure of writing here, both ancient and difficult to read, to which the speaker offers the poem as an all-encompassing though preliminary translation. Rather than culminating in equality conceived as collapse of difference, this passage thrives on the tension between unmitigated difference and sameness. “Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff” specify and undo the chromatic dualism fixed between “black folks” and “white” in the previous line. Language, region, class and ethnicity work against the unity of whiteness and blackness and draw the lines along different discursive paths. It is useful here to briefly focus on the intertextual links that these four appellations invoke. According to the OED, “Kanuck,” in the nineteenth-century U.S., was a generally derogatory name for a French Canadian. The textual examples that the OED gives suggest that “Kanuck” or “Canuck” also connoted linguistic difference, as in “‘Roule, roulant, maboule roulant,’ it’s all Canuck but a good song”. Therefore, “Kanuck” here echoes the foreign system of writing in the first line, but also gives it more detail by calling upon a specifically North-American cultural tension between the United States and Canada. Similarly evocative, “Tuckahoe”—derived from a native American name for edible roots—was used to refer to inhabitants of lower Virginia, connoting both poverty and a ghostly presence of the Native Americans whom they had displaced. The following “Congressman,” then, seems oddly out of place in this list of half-jocular, half derogatory colloquialisms. It both points to a specifically American political system based on equality and as a word embodies social and linguistic difference in yet another way than “Kanuck” and “Tuckahoe” do. The monosyllabic “Cuff,” derived from the common African name Kofi,4 ends and opens this list; it effectively turns the undistinguished group of black “folks” into an individual African. It seems reasonable to assume this connection to African national affiliation was culturally available if not widely known at the time. For example, in 1778 the family of the later prominent abolitionist Paul Cuffee (also spelled Cuffe or Kofi) had specifically changed their name to Cuffee, emphasizing their Ashanti heritage (Sanneh 89). The prosodic and connotative tensions among 4 “Cuff,” Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. (1991). The dictionary cites Whitman’s line here as reference; cf. also “Cuffee, Cuffy,” Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. (1991).

Crossing Race and Ethnicity in Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (1855)


“Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff” thus speak to but also work against the composite American identity that the framing preface invokes: “The American poets are to enclose old and new for America is the race of races. Of them a bard is to be commensurate with a people. To him the other continents arrive as contributions … he gives them reception for their sake and his own sake” (Whitman 6–7). Syntactically, “Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff” are both linked to and separated from the indirect reference to pharaonic Egypt in “And it [the uniform hieroglyphic] means […],” which adds another moment of instability to the oxymoronic, indecipherable sign system that the text ironically puts forth as source of meaning. Whitman’s assertion of perfect equality, “I give them the same, I receive them the same,” at the end of the line then, is placed in a profoundly unstable relation to the difference brought into play by the four ethnic appellations as well as to the oxymoron of writing and deciphering itself. In conclusion, from the perspective of Whitman’s racial politics, this passage with ancient Egypt at its core emerges as both linchpin and centrifugal force for the whole of Leaves of Grass—in collusion with the overwhelmingly dualistic typing in scientific racism, but also urgently working against it in the same gesture. Thus pointing in multiple directions, Egypt in this passage operates at the very heart of the tension around racial difference. While ethnology was obsessed with difference and classification to a degree that eliminated the individual and put the class absolute, Whitman’s poem makes the specific expression of difference speak for itself. Open, unstable and incongruous, its lists are the very opposite of the minute taxonomies offered by ethnology. However, there is yet another significant dimension to the oblique invocation of Egypt here. The oxymoron of the “uniform hieroglyphic” brings the impossible act of reading into the text at precisely the point where it performs the cultural encounter, the communicative difference within the composite American identity that is to “enclose” its multiplicity. Instead of a scientific, objectifiable explanation and taxonomy, the answer to the fundamental question “What is the grass?” dissolves into free conjecture that flows into a vision of universal equality. Yet because one possibility of the grass’ being-in-the-world in this passage is as a system of writing, the sameness it guarantees produces an unsustainable paradox that explodes the enclosure of a stable identity. Deciphering the hieroglyphic becomes both urgently necessary and utterly impossible. Whitman here places the ideas of race, ethnicity and nationhood in precisely this field of tension, the pressure of which makes for an extreme conceptual openness that works against the limiting gaze upon the runaway slave or the black dray driver that appear later in the text.

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Chapter 14

Manifest Empire: Anglo-American Rivalry and the Shaping of U.S. Manifest Destiny Sohui Lee Stanford University

Although the term “manifest destiny” was first printed in the Democratic Review in 1845, manifest destiny existed as a concept long before editor and politician John Louis O’Sullivan penned the words. The decree of God’s design characterized many arguments for colonization issued by other European nation-states, whose own sense of nationhood and nationalism developed alongside imperialist ventures in Africa, Americas, and Asia.1 Within the grander scope of history, O’Sullivan seems to be an accidental inventor of a clever slogan that prompted one American reviewer to complain: “Every folly is to be covered by this manifest destiny” (“American Institutions” 590). But to overlook the transnational issues that prompted O’Sullivan’s catch phrase is to overlook valuable situational clues in which manifest destiny— as it was articulated and dreamt of by Democratic expansionists—developed as a concept and policy during the era of Jackson. That is to say, the emergent rhetoric of U.S. manifest destiny carried an oblique challenge to Great Britain’s reign as North America’s leading empire. In the decade of the 40s during which the United States annexed Texas, settled the Oregon territory, acquired California and New Mexico and deliberated about attaining Cuba, Canada, and Mexico, manifest destiny did not merely rationalize the terms of America’s expansion westward. When O’Sullivan first employed the term, he introduced manifest destiny as a contrary impulse defying the “hostile interference” of nations—specifically “England, our old rival and enemy” (“Annexation” 5). Jacksonian “manifest destiny,” thus, was a creation of nationalism and transatlantic rivalry.2 Manifest destiny ultimately confirms what Amy Kaplan describes as United States’s contradictory rhetoric of national expansion; it is a rhetoric that “turns 1 See also Serge Ricard, The “Manifest Destiny” of the United States in the 19th Century: Ideological and Political Aspects and John Carlos Rowe, Literary Culture and U.S. Imperialism: From the Revolution to World War II. 2 All references to “Jacksonians” in this essay mean “Jacksonian Democrats,” men and women who are sympathetic to the Democratic principles and goals initially shaped and articulated by President Andrew Jackson and his Administration and then inherited by President Van Buren’s Administration.


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imperial conquest into spiritual regeneration in order to efface internal conflict or external resistance [. . .]” (Kaplan 31). But what is peculiar and significant about manifest destiny in Jacksonian discourse, I argue, is its reflective gaze at Britain and its empire. This essay introduces Britain as a crucial rival and foil in the American expansionist imaginary as it took shape in the antebellum literature of the most influential political magazine in its day, the Democratic Review. The U.S.’s optimistic and prophetic imaginings of its own increasing “empire” in speeches and poetry appear much more conflicted and defensive when considered in light of Jacksonian America’s fantasy of Britain’s imperial might and tyranny. Conceived by Jacksonian politicians and poets as an empire of guilty aristocracy, whose foreign policy exhibited “unceasing aggression upon possessions and rights of other nations” (“Edinburgh and Foreign Quarterly” 329), the cruel specter of Britain highlighted and justified the better virtue of America’s democratic expansionist enterprise. Even before William Clark and Meriwether Lewis were commissioned to explore the Louisiana territory, Thomas Jefferson worried that British explorers “have thoughts of colonising” parts of Spanish land (which would later be Oregon) before Americans did (qtd. in York 159). Jefferson’s letter pointed to Anglo-American competition for land and dominion over the Americas. The debates over AngloAmerican territorial competition have been central to the rhetoric of Jacksonian manifest destiny, notably in discussions over Texas. But to discuss United States’s attitudes toward England as it relates to Texas, we need to understand earlier territory tensions that help us understand the United States’s view of Britain’s presence in North America. Richard Rush’s Memoranda of a Residence at the Court of London, which records his years as the “minister plenipotentiary from the United States” between 1819 and 1824, provides an extraordinary report not only of how Britain and America responded to each other’s territorial ambitions but also of how American rhetoric of manifest destiny matured during a period of contentious Anglo-American relations. Appointed by President James Madison to negotiate treaties in London, Richard Rush gained special access to the political movers and shakers in London societies, allowing him to observe British complaints against the United States as well as defend the position of the United States in North America. When the United States acquired the Floridas from Spain through the Treaty of 1819, Rush responded defensively to British charges of imperialism. Refuting British charges of American “ambition and rapacity” in his journal entry of March 25, 1819, Rush pointed to the hypocrisy of the claims, noting how Britain’s critics ignore their country’s own imperial actions in acquiring “all parts of the globe, by her arms or policy” (Rush 58). Rush, however, denied that the United States acted in the same colonizing “spirit” as Great Britain, because the Floridas were acquired “by fair treaty” and paid for “to the uttermost farthing” (Rush 58). Rush’s concluding argument, in fact, highlighted the American view that America’s “fair” acquisition of territory was critically different from and ethically superior to British imperialism by “arms.” Admired by Jacksonian Democrats as an eminent statesmen who negotiated fiercely for American rights of territory, Rush’s strategic differentiation between British conquering “arms” and American “fair treaty” would find an significant echo in poet

Anglo-American Rivalry and the Shaping of U.S. Manifest Destiny


William Cullen Bryant’s description of United States’ “fair broad empire” and in Jacksonian claims of manifest destiny. While the British nervously watched American acquisitions, Americans like Rush worried about British expansion. During the first quarter of the nineteenth century, Britain, like the United States, expanded westward. In 1814, the Treaty of Ghent that ended the War of 1812 resulted in the parceling of North America between the two nations, securing Canada to Great Britain. However, Americans were ever watchful of the encroaching British Empire. When London newspaper spread rumors of Britain’s acquisition of Cuba, Richard Rush wrote fearfully that Cuba might be added to “His Britannic Majesty’s colonial dominions in America,” even though he was repeatedly informed that there was no truth to the report (Rush 108, 127). Large tracts of disputed land between the two nations exacerbated the sense of encroachment. Although, the boundary lines between Canada and the United States were finalized in 1819 at the 49th parallel along the Lake of the Woods west to the Rocky Mountains, the Maine and Oregon territories remained unsettled and fiercely contentious until the Webster-Ashburton Treaty in 1842 and the Treaty of 1846 respectively (cf . Jones and Rakestraw). Jacksonian politicians responded to these territorial disputes in 1840s by fueling existing American anxiety of British encroachment. Within this context of on-going Anglo-American territorial disputes and perceived British encroachment in the Northeast and Northwest, President Monroe’s opening message to Congress in December 1823—or, the Monroe doctrine—seemed to comment on America’s increasingly aggressive stance against Britain. According to Rush, who recorded the British response to Monroe’s speech, the British accepted Monroe’s first objection to the presence of “European Powers” in South America, but they reacted uneasily to Monroe’s sweeping declaration that the United States’s “free and independent condition” depends upon the continent being closed to “future colonization by any European Power” in all American continents (qtd. in Rush 458). In retrospect, Britain’s worried response to the speech appears justified, for Jacksonians adopted Monroe’s declaration to illegitimatize British presence in North America. For Jacksonians, Monroe’s declaration was, in effect, a speech on the United States’s monopoly in the New World, declaring zero tolerance for rival European colonizers. William Gilmore Simms summarized this unilateral outlook in his poem “Progress in America”: “Let the world know that in our hemisphere, Europe can have no foothold” (“Progress” 93). For Jacksonians who wished to make the case against British rights in North America, Britain exemplified the colonizing “European Power.” For instance, in 1838, an article in the Democratic Review, which observed the separatist movement in the British North American Provinces, emphasized Canada’s history as a French colony that “came into the possession of Great Britain by conquest.” In this light, “discontents of the Canadians” and even revolution against the rule of its so-called “mother country” were excusable because Britain, an alien “colonial administration,” had forcibly conformed its North American subjects to their rule (“Canada Question” 207 and 208). By 1844, future President Polk openly declared that Britain was a “foreign power” that, in violation of the Monroe doctrine, designed to acquire Texas as a colony. While running for President, Polk was asked by a committee of Cincinnati

Romantic Border Crossings


citizens to present his view on the “Texas Question.” In a response letter dated April 22, 1844, Polk spelled out the moral or ethical grounds of annexation and then the clear and imminent danger of Britain’s encroachment. “If the application of Texas for reunion and admission into our Confederacy, shall be rejected by the United States,” he warns, “there is imminent danger that [Texas] will become a dependency if not a colony of Great Britain—an event which no American patriot, anxious for the safety and prosperity of this country, could permit to occur without the most strenuous resistance. [. . .] [L]et the fixed policy of our Government be, not to permit Great Britain or any other foreign power to plant a colony or hold dominion over any portion of the people or territory of either” (Polk qtd. in Jenkins 122). Evoking President Monroe’s speech to Congress, Polk indicates that his Administration not only would make the Monroe’s doctrine its “fixed policy,” but also treat Great Britain as “any other foreign power” that threatens to “plant a colony or hold dominion” in North America. The rumor of Britain’s colonial ambitions critically assisted Polk in winning the Presidential election and mobilizing supporters for the annexation of Texas. Southern senators like John C. Calhoun complained for years of the “ramifications of the British Empire’s recently undertaken role as world emancipator” (Calhoun 306).3 For proslavery Southerners, British interest in Texas directly threatened their slave economy. Consequently, the annexation of Texas, as O’Sullivan predicted, depended fundamentally upon United States’s rivalry with Great Britain, real or imagined; the annexation, which ushered a century of territorial acquisition, relied on the North’s “jealousy of English power and English ambition on our Continent” in the Oregon and Maine territories and the South’s fear that British colonization of Texas would lead to the abolition of slavery (“Texas Question” 423). Ultimately, the argument of Britain’s alien presence and colonizing ambition not only helped to unite the nation in supporting the annexation of Texas, it also lead to more extremist disavowals of British rights to North America. In fact, radical expansionists, who rallied for war with Britain over the Oregon territory, vocalized what moderates O’Sullivan and Polk stopped short of saying but were, no doubt, silently hoping: “the extinction of British power on this continent” (“Oregon Question” 531). With the burr of “British power” gone, America’s expansion would be unchallenged in North America and some like Simms grandly predicted that the nation would then become “something more than Albion!—with more spread / Of compact empire, limitless and wide [. . .]” (“Progress” 93). Only Britain stood in the way of the United States becoming “something more” than the British Empire. While Jacksonian nationalists like Polk perpetuated the rumors of British schemes to seize more territories in North America to add to their imperial collection, the Democratic Review also printed poetic propaganda in the 1840s that illustrated how monarchal empires were as morally bankrupt as they were brutal. As Whig Robert Winthrop complained, “There is always a lion in the path of the selfstyled Democratic party of the United States; a British lion, red with the blood of cruelty and oppression, which it is their particular mission to slay [. . .]” (Winthrop 434). An example of this strain of Democratic propaganda can be seen in William 3

February 16, 1836. 24th Congress, 2nd Session.

Anglo-American Rivalry and the Shaping of U.S. Manifest Destiny


Gilmore Simms’s “Apostrophe to Ocean,” a poem in the Democratic Review that depicts Britain’s “cruelty and oppression.” Through the poem, Simms reinforces the magazine’s moral argument that Great Britain aggressively and brutally acquires new territories. A native of Charleston, South Carolina, William Gilmore Simms (1806–70) was originally a lawyer by profession like fellow poet and friend William Cullen Bryant. Simms was well established as a writer and poet when “Apostrophe to Ocean,” Simms’s first poem in the Democratic Review, appeared in March 1840. By then he had published a popular volume of poetry, Atalantis: A Story of the Sea (1832), a collection of short stories Book of My Lady (1833), and romance novels The Yemassee (1835) and The Partisan (1835). Between 1840 and 1847, Simms would publish in the Democratic Review a total of twenty works, most of them poetry. In “Apostrophe to Ocean” (1840), Simms offers a gruesome description of wars preceding colonization, which expose immoral acts of violence meant to tarnish Britain’s imperial glory. The poem, written in nine Spenserian stanzas, begins with the narrator’s contemplation of ocean’s “reckless rule of destiny.” In stanzas three to five, Simms shifts the narrator’s argument to include the bloody actions of “human conquerors” whose “navies” ride the wrath of the ocean’s waves (“Apostrophe” 230). Although Simms never explicitly identifies the navies as British, Simms most likely had Britain in mind, for it possessed the largest and strongest navy in the world maintaining a vast intercontinental empire that included India, Australia, New Zealand, Dutch South Africa, and islands in the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean. Simms rebukes this navy-driven “conqueror” by arguing that its colonizing strategy requires the “work of death” (“Apostrophe” 230), which is as brutal as it is immoral. In one particular passage, he writes: Upon thy shores he marshals his array, [. . .] For conflicts which shall redden all thy sands With human gore, and drain from distant lands Their strength and beauty. (230)

Here, Simms unveils this conqueror’s disturbing rationale for war. It is not a war that attempts to resolve disputes over national boundaries or protect its own settlements. The war occurs in “distant lands” and suggests an invasion. In constructing a diazeugma that links the subject (“conflicts”) with two actions (“redden[ing]” and “drain[ing]”), Simms suggests that these dual events are intimately interconnected with the war. Killing is the means for one specific end: to drain a nation’s “strength and beauty”—its resources, human and material. The fifth stanza points to the viciousness of the conquerors themselves. While Simms points out that the “conquerors” win battles because of their superior technology of “devilish enginery” (230), he stresses the manner in which they conquer. Although “conquerors” win by “superior hate, / And better skill and strength” (230), “hate” defines these warriors. Their “superior hate” is compounded by their “scorn” for the people they defeat (230), allowing them to be perversely “sportive in their deeds.” Simms dwells on the sadistic enjoyment of invading soldiers, who deliver “cruel blow[s]” and “stride


Romantic Border Crossings

o’er necks.” These “proofs of human crime,” even if acceptable by war conventions and national laws, are seen as a violation of the higher Christian “law” (232). Reading Simms against other more explicit illustrations of Britain’s oppressive actions against its colonies like Canada may suggest that American readers of the Democratic Review did not need Simms to spell out the name of the “conquerors” to understand implicit references to British soldiers. While Simms’s “Apostrophe to Ocean” relates how new colonies and territories are violently acquired, the poem “The Canadian Avatar,” also published in the Democratic Review, tells of a story of how colonies like Canada are violently dominated. “The Canadian Avatar,” which appeared a year earlier in December 1839, makes explicit claims against Britain’s brutality as a colonizer. First, the poem’s epigraph introduces excerpts of newspaper reports relating how British armies quashed rebellions in areas south of St. Lawrence by burning the “whole of the back country, above Laprairie” and “giv[ing] no quarters and tak[ing] no prisoners.” Here too, the poem refers to “conquerors” who “devour” the land of widows and orphans under their “blood-sustained sway.” They provide no “Justice” but only “destruction” (“Canadian Avatar” 381). Like Simms, the poet reads British actions through a moral Christian lens, admonishing more plainly that “England shall feel in her terrible day / God is above you in spite of your power” (381). Another poem in the Democratic Review such as “The Man of Toil” reiterates the standard Jacksonian refrain that a monarchal “empire’s wide domain” exists only through the shedding of “blood” (“Man of Toil” 268). In the poetic narratives of Simms and other Jacksonian poets, Britain is a powerful, expanding empire, but one that brutally gains colonies by arms, not by Rush’s “fair treaty.” It is an empire, whose growth is fed by bloody invasions and whose imperial borders are sustained through continual, violent suppression. The representations of the colonizing practices of America’s only rival served the political interests of O’Sullivan’s Democratic Review, whose campaign of manifest destiny maneuvered to tarnish British imperialism while celebrating U.S.’s “democratic” empire building. Simms’s later poem “Progress in America” (1846) would apply a comparative rhetoric commonly found in O’Sullivan’s magazine; in it, Simms declares that United States’s “destiny” is to be an empire more expansive than Britain’s. Through speeches, articles, and poetry approving America’s peaceful and bloodless territorial growth, O’Sullivan and other Jacksonian expansionists would build a case that the democratic empire of the United States was dramatically unlike Great Britain’s empire in virtue, in policy, and in its practice of territorial expansion. While Great British was imagined as “that envious step-mother-land ever scowling malignly upon us with evil eye from across the water” (“Mexico Question” 419)—her envy impelling her to check “the fulfillment of our manifest destiny” (“Annexation” 5)—Jacksonians like Polk and writers like O’Sullivan and Bryant described America’s imperialism in terms of peaceful—if predestined—acquisitions. For instance, William Cullen Bryant’s “Ode,” published in the Democratic Review in 1839, describes how the initial thirteen states formed an “elastic chain” of love and suggests that its new territories continue to join the United States for that same reason (Bryant 408). Bryant’s story of America’s consensual acquisition of territories in 1839 was one that would become the principle theme behind the expansionist rhetoric of Democratic politicians in the 1840s.

Anglo-American Rivalry and the Shaping of U.S. Manifest Destiny


The Monroe doctrine, as it was discussed by Democratic expansionists, presented the natural rights of the United States in North America to secure its territories; but expansionists wove with it a story of moral motives, which not only allowed for them to take “the magnificent region allotted already, by the unequivocal finger of Providence” but also to illustrate the moral superiority of the democratic New World empire in contrast to the aristocratic Old World one (“The Texas Question,” 424). For instance, in 1844, O’Sullivan’s essay “The Texas Question” opens with a compelling metaphor framing his version of America’s manifest destiny: it is a metaphor of the United States as a “powerful magnet,” that, through its “full force of its attraction,” draws territories to the country (“Texas Question” 423). His point is that these territories are attracted by “sympathy” to the democratic government and liberty that the United States provides. Following through with the metaphor, O’Sullivan adds that the United States are equally attracted to these territories as if by “natural instinct toward cohesion” (“Texas Question” 243). This metaphor presents a crucial claim about manifest destiny that has been often overlooked or underplayed in historical examination of the rhetoric in the 1840s. While manifest destiny may be “inevitably” designed by Providence, O’Sullivan also suggests that it is also a process of mutual attraction, requiring the consensual agreement of both participants (colonizer and colonized) to join in the union. The centripetal impulse, moreover, exemplifies the U.S.’s practice of peaceful acquisition as it involves annexation by law and not by force. This characterization of America’s lawful policy and consensual process of territorial acquisition is also projected in James Polk’s speeches both as a Presidential candidate and as President.4 The rhetoric of Monroe’s doctrine, as many historians noted, naturalized American “colonization” and justified, by a policy of supporting United States’s “free and independent condition,” its uninhibited expansion. In Polk’s inaugural address given on March 4, 1845, Polk reiterates his position that the “sacred duty” of American citizens is to “preserve” the government (qtd. in Jenkins 150), and this preservation could only be done by “extend[ing] the dominion of peace over additional territories and increasing millions” (qtd. in Jenkins 157). But in justifying the territorial expansion to European nations, Polk specifically highlights the democratic consent of the people. “The world has nothing to fear from military ambition in our government,” he argues, “Foreign powers should, therefore, look on the annexation of Texas to the United States, not as the conquest of a nation seeking to extend her dominions by arms and violence, but as the peaceful acquisition of territory once her own, by adding another member to our confederation, with the consent of that member” (qtd. in Jenkins 157). Polk’s careful diction frames the pacific nature of the United States’s expansionist practice (“peaceful acquisition,” “dominion of peace,” and “consent”) in stark contrast to a dissimilar, hostile policy: “conquest of a nation,” “arms and violence,” and “military ambition.” Like Richard Rush before him, Polk’s argument for America’s expansionist policy evokes the specter of an aggressive British empire by the very stress Polk places on United States’s inverse foreign policy: America peacefully “adds” members to the nation 4 The Democratic Review’s early support of James K. Polk is reflected in their profile essay “Political Portraits” Democratic Review 2 (May 1838): 197–208.


Romantic Border Crossings

because these territories wish to join, not because they are forced to join. In December 1, 1845, during his first annual message to the two houses of Congress, he re-emphasizes the pacific nature of the republic’s expansionist policy by pointing out unethical colonizing methods that the United States rejects. “Our accession to our territory has been a bloodless achievement,” he announces. “No arm of force has been raised to produce the result. The world has had no part in the victory. We have not sought to extend our territorial possession by conquest, or our republican institutions, over a reluctant people” (qtd. in Jenkins 166). That same year, O’Sullivan reinforces Polk’s expansionist position in the Democratic Review by asserting similar claims in the essay “Territorial Aggrandizement” that a democracy naturally supported larger boundaries and that its democratic method of territorial acquisition (if not providentially condoned) stood on higher moral grounds. O’Sullivan emphasizes: “Democracies must make their conquests by moral agencies if these are not sufficient, the conquest is robbery” (“Aggrandizement” 246). Conquests of force won by imperial governments like Britain’s are aligned with “robbery,” while conquests of ideology signaled by voluntary annexation of territories point to the “moral influences” of a republican government (“Aggrandizement” 247). Read in light of Anglo-American territorial rivalry and manifest destiny discourse, Bryant’s “Ode” engages in expansionist arguments that the United States “conquered” territories by love and not by robbery. First, Bryant’s poem evokes an implicit comparison between the democratic system of the United States and the monarchal one of Britain. Readers of Bryant’s poem, who were constantly exposed to articles and poems opining on national and political differences between John Bull and Jonathan, would have read Bryant’s praise of American government in light of its British rival. For instance, another poem dedicated to democrat Andrew Jackson, published in the same magazine issue as Bryant’s “Ode,” elicits the common comparison celebrating the moral superiority of elected Presidents. In this poem, Andrew Jackson’s voice is not only sublime, it is “[s]ublimer far than Kings by birth may claim” (“Sonnet” 466). Like the encomium to Jackson which is fundamentally comparative, Bryant’s emphatic political point (that Washington was “given” the “sword of Power”—the Presidency) carries a crucial component of Jacksonian rhetoric highlighting Washington’s democratic attainment of power in contrast to the hereditary authority of kings (Bryant 498). Second, Bryant highlights the distinctive cornerstone principles of American democracy, free will and the consent of the governed to be governed, in the first and final stanzas to intimate that America’s territorial acquisitions are democratically, and not martially, obtained. The full title of Bryant’s Ode indicates the occasion for fourstanza epideictic poem: “Written for the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Inauguration of Washington, April 30, 1839.” While Bryant’s title suggests that the poet has crafted an encomium to celebrate “Glory’s unspoil’d son,” George Washington, half of Bryant’s quatrains actually focuses on how independent states joined to become the United States and how the nation continues to solicit new members. Bryant’s first stanza, with its stress beats on “hearts” and “minds,” opens with a recognition of the civic high-mindedness of Washington and his Continental Congress, but Bryant equally celebrates what these men produced: the binding “league of love,” that is the Constitution, which legally united the states (498).

Anglo-American Rivalry and the Shaping of U.S. Manifest Destiny


Furthermore, Bryant’s description of the Constitution as a “league of love” promotes the notion that the compact was forged out of mutual desire by all parties. This democratic covenant, for Bryant, sets historical precedence as well as foreign policy practice in the making of the nation. One repeated phrase hints at Bryant’s view that the exercise of consensual union, which started in the Early Republic period, endures as a policy in Jacksonian expansionism: the consensual joining of colonial “state with state” (as described in the first stanza) repeats in the final quatrain in which Bryant witnesses the ever-lengthening train of national expansion, “state after state.” The variation in the phrase seems significant as it illustrates how America’s democratic covenant remains intact: while the conjunction “with” places stress on the synchronic moment in which thirteen states joined in democratic nation building, “after” points to diachronic nation building, one state at a time. Alongside this indication of consensual expansion through statehood, Bryant’s metaphor of the “elastic chain,” like O’Sullivan’s magnet, symbolizes the nonviolent and diplomatic process in which American government stretches west (498). Although the occasion for the poem was Washington’s inaugural, Bryant’s poem directs readers to something greater than Washington himself, the peaceful creation of a growing democratic nation consisting of ever more uniting states. Because the annexation of Texas was the chief polemic for several years before the poem appeared and continued to be hotly debated up to 1845, Bryant’s reference to America’s “fair” empire may signify the honorable nature of America’s territorial acquisitions. As early as 1836, Senator Calhoun argued that “the inco[r]poration of Texas into the Union, as indispensable” and inevitable (Calhoun 248),5 and many essays in the Democratic Review that argued for annexation were written defensibly against those who questioned the legality or the morality of the acquisition (“Mexico Question” 419). Although it has been observed that Bryant may be more conflicted about the effects of manifest destiny and that his poem “The Prairies” (1833) eulogized the inevitable Edenic loss that comes with westward progress (Newlin), Bryant’s “Ode” in 1839 suggests that the poet, at least publicly, supported expansionist policies through his sympathetic depiction of America’s consensual acquisition of territories. Bryant’s emergent manifest destiny rhetoric represented only one facet of many that revealed how American national identity is inextricably bound with nineteenthcentury Britain.6 His vision of consensual expansion resonated in ensuing nationalist texts in the Democratic Review, which extolled the pacific nature of America’s empire. This carefully crafted imagery of America’s bloodless expansion, of course, elided the fact that other expansionist endeavors to spread the practice of democracy often required military action. As one expansionist admitted in 1847, the sword was a more effective teacher of democracy than words (“Mexico—Her People” 373). Not surprisingly, anti-expansionists stridently accused proponents of manifest destiny for stirring the “military spirit of the country” and insinuated that their real incentives 5 John C. Calhoun to Samuel D. Ingham. MS. 21 June 1836 in The Papers of John C. Calhoun. 6 See also Paul Giles, Virtual Americas: Transnational Fictions and the Transatlantic Imaginary.


Romantic Border Crossings

were no different than “the proudest and the mightiest empire on earth,” Great Britain (De Bow 167, 168). These accusations, alongside expansionists’ refutations, exposed deeper psychological strategies behind Jacksonian constructions of a brutal British empire. In Jacksonian rhetoric, a clear moral difference divided the empires of the United States and Britain, not only through a distinction of politics but also through a comparative depiction of territorial acquisition. Jacksonian literary imaginary invested in a world of contrasts where Britain’s martial conquest of the sword confirmed the superior nature of America’s democratic conquests of the heart.

Chapter 15

Ample Make This Bed: Dickinson’s Dying in Drama and Arnim’s Liebestod Lilach Lachman University of Tel Aviv

The idea that Emily Dickinson must have selected both Günderode and Bettine von Arnim as “her own society” (F409) occurred to me at the 1999 ICR Conference held at Indiana University, when I heard Kari Lokke apply Arnim’s term “floating religion” to George Sand.1 I then suggested to Kari that Dickinson’s vision of poetry as an “unobtrusive Mass” (F895) may have taken its clue from Arnim’s “SchwebeReligion.”2 This was the beginning of our dialogue and of my acquaintance with Arnim’s Günderode. I have since realized that both writers created new frameworks to test, challenge and transform the conceptions of love and death prevalent in their cultures.3 Moreover, for both writers, none of the then existing literary genres, be it the epistolary novel à la Werther, the bourgeois novel (in the case of Bettine), the elegy, the epitaph, or the Gothic ballad (in the case of Dickinson) would have adequately rendered this new conceptualization of Liebestod. Significantly, not only did both choose death—the most threatening event to individuality—as a central 1 My dialogue with Kari Lokke was sparked by her talk on George Sand’s Consuelo (ICR 1999). Her following talks, “History as Geisterumgang in Bettina von Arnim’s Die Günderode” (NASSR 2000), and “Learning from Excess: Emily Dickinson and Bettina Von Arnim’s Die Günderode” (EDC, Hawaii 2004) were seminal to our exchange. See Lokke’s Tracing Women’s Romanticism: Gender, History and Transcendence, 2004: 84. I would also like to thank Suzanne Juhasz for her astute reading of the essay. 2 In her insightful essay “Your Next Life Begins Today: A Letter about Bettina,” Christa Wolf describes Bettina’s “floating religion” as a “counter-proposal” to male bonding and to the teacher-pupil relationship so prevalent in their culture. Within this “woman’s philosophy” which was grounded in a love-bond, Bettina and Günderrode conceived a “religion of joie de vivre, sensory pleasure, and humane attitudes” and developed “thoughts about government,” ideas of how they would “revolutionize the world while they laughed out loud” (Wolf 211). 3 Such scholars as Rebecca Patterson (“Emily Dickinson’s Debt to Günderode”) and Barton Levi St. Armand (“Veiled Ladies: Dickinson, Bettina, and Transcendental Mediumship”), who have begun to address the possible impact of Arnim’s work on Dickinson, have largely compared local motifs and images in the works of the two authors. For a broader historical context of this impact, see Kari Lokke’s essay in this volume. My own interest lies in exploring not the issue of influence, but the affinities and differences in their attitude to death.


Romantic Border Crossings

shaping force in their works, but each created a hybrid form flexible enough to engage the reader as a subject. Although a full account of these transformations would exceed the scope of this paper, I would like to reflect on them in terms of a life that, to borrow Walter Benjamin’s observation about the life of the tragic hero, indeed, “unfolds from death, which is not its end, but its form” (The Origin of German Tragic Drama). Focusing on Dickinson’s poetic performance of Death, I will highlight both her provocative deployment of a deathbed model inherited from her Victorian culture and her modification of the Romantic Liebestod model. I will then draw some rough distinctions between Arnim’s and Dickinson’s constructs of death. What interests me is how Dickinson transforms the Romantic eroticization of death into a subjective interiority, how she appropriates Arnim’s shaping of death, extends and modifies it, thus infusing it with new values. I will start by reading one of Dickinson’s relatively simple poems, written in 1864, in which the poet invites her reader to enact a bed scene: Ample make this Bed Make this Bed with Awe In it wait till Judgment break Excellent and Fair. Be it’s Mattress straight Be it’s Pillow round Let no Sunrise’s yellow noise Interrupt this Ground (F 804)

The speaker, a consummate mourner of the genre Barton St. Armand describes as the “popular gospel for consolation,” places us in front of a bed.4 The “Bed” alludes to a ritual of both death and love. Instead of referring to the Victorian tombstone and related acts of mourning, the speaker invites her audience to straighten the mattress and round the pillow, that is, to participate in her own domestic ritual. Her immediate addressee is a woman who can traditionally fulfill such a role. Yet the apparently simple tone is deceptive. After all, the speaker calls her addressee to amplify and extend the bed’s mundane functions: “Ample make this Bed/ Make this Bed with Awe.” Rather than preparing the “Bed” as the conventional site of love or of death, the poet performs her own modified ceremony of life’s “little (feminine) duties” (Fr 522). As the poem proceeds, the addressee’s restrictive gendered features disappear, and we, the readers, learn to decode the modified ritual. The adverbs that frame this opening imperative work like stage directions that modify our understanding of the scenic roles. Instead of encouraging her addressee, a traditional mourner, to look forward to joining the absent beloved eventually in Heaven, Dickinson instructs her in a daily chore, thus jolting the reader into awareness of his or her mortality. Contrary to the expectations the bed scene elicits, Dickinson parodies the woman’s traditional domestic and mourning roles. An 4 See Barton Levi St. Armand’s work Emily Dickinson and her Culture, especially 39– 77, for an elaboration of the role of this convention in Victorian aesthetics.

Ample Make This Bed: Dickinson’s Dying in Drama and Arnim’s Liebestod


ironic hint at her expected obedience, “with awe” may mean ‘with reverence,’ but, alluding to the macabre association of the “bed” later activated in the poem, it can also suggest ‘with fear.’ The addressee is called on to make the bed “ample” so that it can contain the dead lover. As Elizabeth Petrino points out, by transforming the epitaphic tradition into a ghostly reversal of living and dead Dickinson casts doubt on the sham consolation offered by Victorian mourning conventions.5 The poem thus triggers in her readers an active process whereby they change their assumptions about both love chores and mourning conventions. More than anything else, such engagement allows the reader to participate in the performance of the lyrical subject. As Cristanne Miller and Suzanne Juhasz have compellingly argued in “Performances of Gender in Dickinson’s Poetry,” with her play of multiple selfpositionings Dickinson can take on various subject positions and thereby enact gender. In our poem, the mourner addressee is understood to be the subject, and the speaker’s simple, straightforward tone recalls the danse macabre’s preacher who traditionally invokes the Last Judgment for the sake of order and purpose. However, rather than representing a conventional elegiac love or death scene, Dickinson engages her reader in a rather subversive death dance, in which the speaker is both the director of the scene and its addressed victimized female subject.6 By placing the individual’s death in such a shifting frame, each of these interplaying contexts enlarges its significance. The daily chore reverberates with unpredictable initiating rituals and the danse macabre extends its traditional gendered features. As Miller and Juhasz contend, the poetic performance unfolds not just in the voice of Emily Dickinson but also in the dramatic interplay between text and reader, whom the poem initiates into a performance of the poet’s gendered role.7 Such interplay often occurs as a shift of perspective. Dickinson calls for amplitude that transcends the scene’s restrictive boundaries and enlarges the reader’s spacetime perspective. “In it wait till Judgment break”: what we first perceived as a bed that the female addressee is conventionally instructed to “make” now appears to be a coffin or grave in which she is instructed to await her lover. The address to the supposed external maker of “this Bed,” who is apparently an attendant at the death-ceremony, now reads either as an appeal to the one lying on “this Bed” or “In” the coffin, someone who in fact has already died or is about to die. Even more alarmingly, it can be read as a spell uttered by someone buried alive within her chores, passively waiting for the ghostly invader, “Judgment,” who is to break the Bed’s rest. The modifying demand of line 2 “Make this Bed with Awe,” which is reinforced by the poem’s second stanza, prepares us for this shift from amplitude, through reverence, to awe.

5 See Elizabeth A. Petrino, Emily Dickinson and her Contemporaries. 6 Dickinson’s poem alludes to the three framing images which, according to Sarah Webster Goodwin (Kitsch and Culture: The Dance of Death in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Graphic), enclose the dance of death in varying combination: a preacher preaching, the Last Judgment, and the artist/poet himself. 7 See Suzanne Juhasz and Christanne Miller, “Performances of Gender in Dickinson’s Poetry.”


Romantic Border Crossings

Furthermore, the addressee is expected to assent to life up to the point of death and even beyond. From this subversive perspective, she becomes a subject who actively appropriates the traditional male Christian “Judgment” as her object. The attributes “Excellent and Fair,” which are conventionally ascribed to a woman and her domestic functioning, are now ironically displaced to the male invader. The disruptive notes that pertain to such role reversal are counterbalanced, however, by the restrictive, phonetically enhanced allusion to the grave (Pillow/ yellow; round/ Ground). Set in and straining against these limitations, the speaker’s violent intrusion transforms the peaceful death ceremony (or a matrimonial scene) in which the addressee is both instrument and object into the subject’s self-constituting ritual. The reader thus encounters gender-appropriate and pious conformity (“Make this Bed with Awe”), followed immediately by a shrewdly ironic, almost parodic note suggestive of a gender-inappropriate interruption (“In it wait till Judgment break”). Accordingly, Death allegorized as “Judgment” is not conceived as a natural aftermath of life nor as a cessation of its movement but, rather, as a rift deliberately provoked by the subject’s persistent waiting. The female addressee is called upon to “Ample make this Bed,” to extend her quotidian female identity. Yet this call challenges her domestic identity, as she actively prepares to lure the male haunter-intruder. Not only does she use her art of bed-making to seduce the invader rather than passively wait for him, but the poem hints that she also buries alive this Romantic personified Death disguised as the allegorized Christian “Judgment.” The addressee, who initially seemed to be a victimized object, is now revealed as a self-eroticizing, even aggressive subject. Paradoxically, the daily chore therefore becomes a ritual signaling process: “Be it’s Mattress straight / Be it’s Pillow round” can now be read as marking the anticipated space of fusion between sexuality and Death. Severed from the normative life cycle it had embodied—domesticity, sexuality and death, the “Bed”/ coffin/ grave becomes, in this danse macabre, a sacrificial space. Here Dickinson constitutes her own identity as a poet casting a spell on her reader. Accordingly, the entire poem that is inflected as an imperative (“make,” “wait,” “break,” “Be,” “Let”) can be read more as a prayer or spell than as a parodic gesture. If this spell of Amplitude were to be effective, it would disconnect the addressee from all the cycles and spaces of life (both her daily chores and the “yellow noise” of sunrise that ushers them in). But even after her daily errand is finished, the speaker will not cease to exist. The request that “Sunrise’s yellow noise” does not “Interrupt this Ground,” signals the addressee’s liberation from her quotidian chores, but it also alludes to one’s death. Accordingly, her erotic identity as maiden-bride, elided throughout the poem, is paradoxically reclaimed by relinquishing it. In this context, note the sharp contrast between the phallic overtones of “Sunrise” and the feminine connotations of “round” and “Ground.” Although Dickinson concludes her poem by insisting on the material self-containment of the deathbed, she cautions the reader not to overlook the taboo behind the call for transgression. The repeated verb “make,” preceded and followed by its adverbs “ample” and “with awe,” underscores the tension between the domestic bed-making chore and its transformation into an

Ample Make This Bed: Dickinson’s Dying in Drama and Arnim’s Liebestod


intimate but provocative death ceremony, a ceremony that Dickinson’s address, by providing a script for her reader to perform, may effect. Using a dramatized yet intimate ritual and violating it, Dickinson infuses the Calvinist deathbed scene with new meaning. In other poems, her world extends the boundaries of the genre by means of widely ranging enactments of death, by crucifixion, drowning, hanging, suffocation, premature burial, and the guillotine, as Vivian Pollack described them.8 The death ritual’s role in identity formation is central to Dickinson’s world, making the space of her poem, as Suzanne Juhasz and Cristanne Miller argue, “into a stage, whereon the poet may play a multitude of self-positionings.” Indispensable to such enactment of death, each of us becomes a voyeur of a secret ritual performed in the intimacy of someone else’s chamber. But unlike Dickinson’s Christ, who “on divinest tiptoe standing/, might but spy the lady’s soul” (317), the reader, as I have argued in previous essays on Dickinson, becomes both a voyeur and an active participant in the poet’s staging of death.9 Of course, Dickinson cannot be considered the inventor of this poetics: the change in the reader’s role was already both the subject and the end of Romantic poetics. Keenly aware of the Baroque Christian danse macabre and the Romantic Liebestod, Dickinson re-activates these traditions as a new means of confrontation between her reader and Death. The speaker’s self-differentiation and the active engagement of the reader in her death dance are basic motives in her poems of death. The phrases “I felt a funeral in my Brain” and “I heard a fly buzz when I died,” as well as the narrative of “Because I could not stop for Death” lead to such engagement. As a poet, Dickinson adds her own experience to already existing experiences. She asserts her own encounter with death against previous conventions. Let us now take a closer look at some of these transformations. Death acquires a new cultural meaning when Friedrich Schiller claims in his 1782 poetry Anthologie, which he dedicates to his “master Death,” that “this Death” is “the most powerful tsar of all flesh,” an “insatiable glutton everywhere in Nature” (Werke, IX, 316–17). In place of the dualisms of traditional German idealism, then, Schiller proclaims the temporality of matter both in man and in Nature. The Romantics, who take up the theme from medieval Dances of Death, animate Death with new erotic, but also temporal, overtones that undermine the Enlightenment’s nature/culture dichotomy. At the same time, in Romantic art and literature, Death, having been re-claimed by Nature, is given a kinder face. In his autobiography, Poetry and Truth, Goethe accounts for the reason behind his generation’s tendency to beautify and elevate Death, but also obliquely hints at the cost of such aestheticism: “We considered ourselves saved from all evil.” We are particularly enchanted by the beauty of the idea that Antiquity had recognized Death [Thanatos] as the brother of Sleep and had represented them as so similar that they could be mistaken for each other. So we could really celebrate the triumph of beauty to the utmost” (Werke, IX, 316–17). Inherited from the Greeks, a gentle and beautiful Thanatos, the brother of sleep and friend of mankind, is pitted against the earlier Christian tradition that had 8 See Vivian R. Pollak, “Thirst and Starvation in Emily Dickinson’s Poetry.” 9 See Lilach Lachman, “ ‘Suspense is his Maturer Sister’: Time, Fear and Audience in Dickinson’s Gothic Drama.”


Romantic Border Crossings

foregrounded a terrifying skeleton brandishing the scythe and hourglass in its bony hands. The Hellenic youth whom Schiller’s generation now fuses with Jesus Christ makes his debut toward the late eighteenth century as both “Freund Hein” and the Soul’s fervently desired bridegroom. In Gottfried August Bürger’s poem “Lenore” (1773), God’s bosom is, accordingly, replaced by the coffin-like “nuptial bed,” and Death, ending Life with the promise of supreme joy, takes the longing soul home to a long awaited paradise. Bettine von Arnim elaborates on this constellation and seeks a similar transcendence of death through an enactment that transports her from a traditional amorous space to her self-constitution as a female writer. As Lokke has shown, in Günderode, Arnim modifies the traditional representation of death in two important respects: she eroticizes death through her female encounter with nature and reverses the roles in the dominant Liebestod constellation. In Günderode, the active bride, conventionally the seduced, victimized female subject, thus replaces the traditional male lover of Gothic literature. Contrary to death’s recurrent role as “bridegroom,” a motif known from such Romantic works as Bürger’s “Lenore” and Novalis’s Hymns to Night, Bettine casts death in the role of the absent metamorphosed female lover. Furthermore, unlike in the traditional male model, Arnim replaces the heterosexual love between Günderode and Creuzer with her own love for Günderode, transforming the latter from the traditional victimized female object into a subject who mirrors Bettine’s own repressed desires. Gunderode’s tragic life unfolds, accordingly, along with the tension between the traditional victimized object and a radical feminist model in which the erotic is the privileged agent of the female subject’s interior life. Set against this corrective model, Arnim’s text displays a fragmented subjectivity. The lyric “I” Günderode deploys in her poems, which shapes the written correspondence between the two women, alters its meanings in each of these contexts. Hence, anticipating Dickinson, Arnim represents the first person as a divided and multiple subject. While a destabilized and fragmented subjectivity characterize both Arnim’s Günderode and Dickinson’s poetry, the two authors’ attitudes to death and, therefore, to its shaping differ significantly. Indeed, the question of suicide haunts von Arnim’s novel and the reader is informed about the circumstances of Gunderode’s death, Arnim, largely conforming to the aesthetic principles described by Goethe, in fact, chooses to evade the materiality of her friend’s death. “The spirit of the rose ascends as its beauty fades,” she writes, alluding to Günderode’s death and to her own aesthetics. Dominated by the fair Thanatos, her shaping of Gunderode’s destiny tallies with Herder’s enlightened rejection of the grimness of death: “Not a frightening specter, therefore, but the terminator of life, the calm youth with downturned torch this is Death” (qtd. in Guthke 134).10 On the one hand, the novel’s reader is expected to contrast Karoline’s assertion that spirits of the past do not die but live on in like-minded members of future generations with her own absence throughout the entire novel. On the other hand, the novel’s epistolary form embodies both Karoline’s faith in eternity and Bettine’s idealizing echo of it as she addresses Günderode in the concluding scene: “Nothing is lost. 10 My analysis of the Romantic representation of death draws on Guthke’s work, especially 158–72 in his chapter, “The Romantic Age: ‘How Wonderful is Death’”.

Ample Make This Bed: Dickinson’s Dying in Drama and Arnim’s Liebestod


Truly, that life alone is continued in you which your mind is fitted to receive.” The reader of Arnim’s novel is thus expected to resolve this conflictual attitude to death by displacing it from its slant euphemistic dramatization to its aestheticization. In this sense, I read Arnim’s vocabulary of love as an oblique repression, not only of the reality of death but of life’s material temporality. Furthermore, by concluding her novel with Günderode’s metamorphosis into a swan who is conversing “with the whispering sedges by the shore,” (243), Arnim in fact appropriates the fictional character as much as she does her lover (the actual Günderode) along with the poet’s traditional male role, mobilizing all three and integrating them within her own Symbolist poetic ideal. Such displacement, which removes us from the enactment of death as subjective performance, prompts us to read death as envisaged by most Romantic male writers, i.e., as an aesthetic code of transcendence. Dickinson questions, disputes, and even annuls this romantic aesthetic. She does not share Günderode’s surrender to death, nor its aestheticization as practiced by Arnim. Two opposed movements punctuate her text, and only their coexistence enables her self-constitution as a subject. On the one hand, she does share the Romantic longing for the fusion of love and death that we have detected in Günderode. On the other hand, it is precisely the refusal of such fusion that is her self-defining gesture. “Don’t you know that ‘No’ is the wildest word?” she is known to have said. And in this sense, as more than a few of her critics acknowledge, the essential adventure of her poetry has been to dissolve, displace and amplify Christian theology.11 In some of her most forceful death-love poems—“Because I could not stop for Death,” “My Life had stood a Loaded Gun,” “I can not live with you/ it would be Life,” “I may have it when it’s Dead,” she says “No,” not only to the lover but also to death. Her dialogical logic underscores the moment of negation contained in Christianity; but she paradoxically mobilizes that logic to establish the supreme subjective authority she grants her speakers. Accordingly, as for Bettine von Arnim, from Dickinson’s perspective too, love is not only the reverse side of death but also relies on death: “The Test of Love is death,” she writes in poem 541, where the death she refers to is not only the religious paradigm of Jesus’s willingness to sacrifice his life for love, “but also the reality of death as the event which verifies desire,” as Joan Burbick observes. No less extremely, in poem 631, as the speaker watches the waters rise, threatening her extinction, she negates her life as proof of her love: “Oh Lover Life could not convince —/ Might Death enable Thee” In numerous poems, such desire is projected as an urge to be engulfed by a forceful male power that is a variant of patriarchy and the uncanny phenomenon of death. However, as both a woman and a poet, Dickinson remains a stranger to this male in power, which often appears in her work as a “suitor,” groom, or “Gentleman usher” who, as Daneen Wardrop has suggested, is a proxy for the true lover delayed in a remote paradise but is in fact “a rapist.” Her adaptation of the gruesome 11 Examples of critics who emphasize different aspects of Dickinson’s relationship to Christian theology include Shira Wolosky, Emily Dickinson: A Voice of War; Jane Eberwein, Dickinson: Strategies of Limitation; and Joanne Feit Diehl, “Ransom in a Voice: Language as Defense in Dickinson’s Poetry,” in Juhasz 156–76.


Romantic Border Crossings

medieval mask of Death and her Gothic enactments of the uncanny challenge the oppressive and repressive assumptions of Victorian, and more widely, enlightened consciousness, which turned women into aesthetic objects and alienated them from their bodily and sensual selves. To conclude, I would like to emphasize the self-forming role of this double movement so pervasive in Dickinson’s performance of death. The erotic violation that disrupts the individual’s assumed plenitude and dismantles her controlled, fixed self-containment is vital for her emergence as a subject. Overcome by her desire for engulfment, the loved one severs herself from her normal cycles of life and work: “And I had put away/ My labor and my leisure too/ For his Civility,” states the speaker of “Because I could not stop for Death” (Fr 479). And, as we can see also in such poems as “I started Early Took my Dog” (Fr 656), “If I may have it when it’s dead” (431), and “Back from the cordial Grave I drag thee” (Fr 1649), the spaces where such engulfment and its consequent amplification of the subject can occur are the ocean, the grave and the coffin, all of which are shut off from the speaker’s normative life-cycle and social obligations. However, to merge with that male power, or with any other external power, would mean self-annihilation, which for her is a form of death. As we recall from our reading of “Ample make this bed,” a pseudo-logical shift occurs in the subject’s active urge toward death: “In it wait till Judgment Break.” Because it allows the extension rather than the annulment of consciousness, the movement toward merging, rather than the merging itself, is vital to the poet’s self-differentiation. In contrast to the Romantic male paradigm, where the dissolution of the passive bride anticipates the fusion of both partners, the decisive act in Dickinson’s performance of death is the “I”’s stripping bare its expected gendered and sexual roles. In her famous description of her date with Death (poem 479), she stages the stripping of her identity: “For only gossamer my Gown My tippet only Tulle.” In another funeral rite, she has become “but an Ear/ and I, and Silence, some strange Race,/ wrecked, solitary, here” (poem 340). And in what is perhaps the most stunning perspective of all, by means of a shift from the her owner’s speech to her own body-gesture, the speaker of poem 764 is liberated from the recognizing gaze of the other; her own eroticized, inner smile, in turn, reveals her face as that of Vesuvius: “It is as a Vesuvian face/ Had let it’s pleasure through.” In this manner, rather than yielding to the fusion with Death, in her poems of love-death Dickinson signals the relocation of her female speakers within their own interior sacred spaces. Hence, the bed, the coffin, the chasm, the swell in the ground, and the face become spaces that recall the prenatal stasis of the womb, spaces that allow the subject’s eventual self-differentiation from the power of an other that threatens to devour her. Kari’s reading of Günderode reminds us how Von Arnim herself began to question some of the cultural assumptions about Death. Following the male Romantic paradigm, Von Arnim displaces Death to poetry and music, the modes that seduce and engulf the Maiden. For Dickinson, however, Death, like “Nature” and “God,” remains an “alien and unreadable script written in a foreign tongue,” to quote Hagenbuchle’s words. Can we imagine any symbolist harmony in the soul’s repeated encounter with its own “ghastly fright” at the image of Death? Referring to the “retaken moments,

Ample Make This Bed: Dickinson’s Dying in Drama and Arnim’s Liebestod


when ” “the horror” rather than the bridegroom welcomes the soul again, Dickinson elliptically says, hyphenating rather than concluding one of her ritual of executions “These are not brayed of tongue -.” In poem after poem, her speakers participate in and repeatedly disrupt the compelling Dance of Death. Perhaps most disruptive for the Romantic victory of the fair Thanatos is the fact that Dickinson’s female subjects never completely fall asleep or die. “Do we die/ Or is this Death’s experiment / Reversed in Victory,” she questions. Her performances of death give the impression that she has already died; that she surfaces from speechlessness in order to haunt us, as if saying, “I died, I drowned, I froze, I was executed, and none of you noticed.” Her ghostly voice insists on its existence as she imposes on us the unpleasant role of a bystander whose helplessness exacerbates an already extreme situation. But precisely because Dickinson situates speech and the hearing of it within a process in which time itself is reshaped as an intertextual network that relates the subject to an addressee, the reader’s role is crucial to the performance of “the drama of dying” enacted in her poetry. By means of this performance, the poet constitutes herself as a subject with, against, or mostly in divergence from others who threaten to enclose her. Through her experiments, Death, the ostensible opposite of life, emerges as the subject’s basis, its vanishing point and sustaining force.

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Wollstonecraft, Mary, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. 1792. In The Vindications: The Rights of Men, The Rights of Woman. Ed. D. L. Macdonald and Kathleen Scherf. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview P, 1997. Rpt. 2001. Wood, Marcus. Radical Satire and Print Culture, 1790–1822. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1994. Wordsworth, William. William Wordsworth. Ed. Stephen Gill. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1987. ———. “Preface to Lyrical Ballads.” 1850. The Prose Works of William Wordsworth. Ed. W. J. B. Owen and Jane Worthington Smyser. 3 vols. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1974. 119–59. Young, Robert. White Mythologies: Writing History and the West. London: Routledge, 1990. Zantop, Susanne. “Eigenes Selbst und fremde Formen: Goethes ‘Bekenntnisse einer schönen Seele,’” Goethe Yearbook 3 (1986): 73–92. Zimmerman, Everett. The Boundaries of Fiction: History and the EighteenthCentury British Novel. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1996.


Adeline Mowbray (Opie), 15, 101, 103, 105, 106, 107, 108. See also Opie, Amelia Adoniram, 70, 74 Agassiz, Louis, 177 Aiken, Lucy, 136 Aladdin, or the Wonderful Lamp (anon.), 35 Alcott, Louisa May, 19, 160 alterity, 2, 10, 12, 21, 29, 30, 31, 70, 72, 73, 172 Anti-Jacobinism, 16, 101, 102, 112 Anti-Jacobin Review and Magazine, 99n1, 100, 101, 104, 105n5 Anti-Jacobin Weekly, 15, 99, 100 Apollonian, 167 Arabia, 17, 18, 135–41, 144–6 Arabian Nights, 18, 35, 137, 139, 139n16, 145, 145n32. See also The Thousand and One Arabian Nights Aravamudan, Srninivas, 57 Aristotle, 149 Armstrong, Isobel, 21 Arnim, Bettine von, 19–21, 159–67, 191–3, 195–9 Arrojo, Rosemary, 8 The Atheist (Otway), 32. See also Otway, Thomas Austen, Jane, 99, 151, 152 An Authentic History of the Cato Street Conspiracy (Wilkinson), 30. See also George Theodore Wilkinson, 30n6 Azérad, Hugo, 13, 65 Backscheider, Paula, 43, 44 Bage, Robert, 99, 100, 107 Baillie, Joanna, 18, 27, 114n2, 137, 137n8, 138, 138n9, 143, 143n28, 153, 154, 155; The Beacon: A Serious Musical Drama in Two Acts, 138, 143; Fugitive Verses (Baillie), 137, 138n9; Metrical Legends, 137; Plays of the Passions, 27, 154

Bakewell, Thomas, 16, 114, 116–19, 120, 121; A Domestic Guide, in Cases of Insanity, 16, 116, 117; The Moorland Bard, 16, 116, 118 Balfour, Ian, 44 Barbauld, Anna Letitia, 154, 154n8 Bassnett, Susan, 4, 5, 6, 9 Battle of Leipzig, 30 Baudelaire, Charles, 68, 69, 69n6, 72, 167 Beauty and the Beast (Planché), 138, 145. See also Planché, James Robinson Beddoes, Thomas, 16, 120–121; Alexander’s Expedition, 16, 120; Hygëia 16, 120 Beddoes, Thomas Lovell, 18, 114, 120, 138, 143, 143n26 Behrendt, Stephen C., 17–19, 20, 147 Bénichou, Paul, 68, 69n6 Benjamin, Walter, 8, 14, 67, 68, 70, 74 Bennett, Benjamin, 84 Berlin, Isaiah, 23 Bildungsroman, 75, 77n7 Bisset, Robert, 102, 103 Blackbeard, 54, 60 Blake, William, 135, 135n1, 136n2, 152, 154, 155 Bloomfield, Robert, 118, 152, 154 Blue-Beard, or, Female Curiosity! (Colman), 36–37. See also Colman, George Boardman, Michael, 43 A Bold Stroke For a Husband, 12, 32 border crossing, 5, 17, 22, 27, 45, 154 borders, 1–2, 6, 10, 12, 13, 15, 18, 54, 56, 59, 60, 61, 87, 88, 123, 148, 157, 186 Borel, Joseph-Pierre, 68 Bosch, Hieronymus, 94 The Botanic Garden (Darwin), 114, 119, 120. See also Darwin, Erasmus Braudy, Leo, 123n1, 124 Brontë, Charlotte, 46, 50; Bertha Mason, 46, 47, 49, 50; Jane Eyre, 46n2


Romantic Border Crossings

Broszeit-Rieger, Ingrid, 13–14, 75 Brown, Marshall, 131 Brown, Thomas, 16, 114, 118–121; Lectures on the Philosophy of the Human Mind, 16, 119, 120; The Paradise of Coquettes, 16, 119 Bryant, William Cullen, 183, 185–6, 188–9 Bürger, Gottfried August, 13–15, 75, 75n1, 87, 87n1, 87n3, 88–9, 89n5, 90–95; “Lenore,” 87–95 Burke, Edmund, 17, 101, 104, 105, 125, 127; A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful, 127; Reflections on the Revolution in France 101, 104, 125 Burwick, Frederick, 10–12, 16, 27, 113 Butler, Judith, 14, 85 Butler, Marilyn, 99, 103 Butor, Michel, 65 Byron, George Gordon, Lord, 6, 12, 13, 38, 53–61, 152, 153, 153n6, 156n13; Beppo, 13, 57; The Bride of Abydos, 57, 58, 61; Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, 154; The Corsair, 12, 13, 53, 57, 59, 60, 61; Don Juan, 57; Sardanapalus, 12, 38 Cairo, 65, 66, 136 Calhoun, John C., 184, 189 Canada, 2, 178, 181, 183, 186 Canadians, 22, 178, 183, 186; “The Canadian Avatar,” 22, 186 Cannadine, David, 140, 140n19 capitalism, 1, 5, 13, 68 Cass, Jeffrey, 1 The Castle of Otranto (Walpole), 126. See also Walpole, Horace The Cataract of the Ganges (Moncrieff), 37, 38n17. See also Moncrieff, W.T. Castle, Terry, 12, 41, 43, 51, 124 Chambers, Ross, 67, 68, 72 Chandler, James, 152 Chateaubriand, 65 Clare, John, 152 Clark, William, 182 classroom, 9, 19, 20, 100, 147, 148, 151, 144 Clery, E.J., 127n5, 127n7, 130, 130n9 Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, 1, 16, 27, 32, 33, 35, 69, 114, 115, 121, 136, 136n3, 139, 139n13, 152, 154, 155;

Biographia Literaria, 114–15, 121; Osario (published as Remorse), 32; Remorse, 33, 35 Colligan, Colette, 139, 139n15 Colman, George, 12, 36, 37, 138 Colomina, Beatriz, 44 Colonialism, 11, 35, 140 comparative literature, 1–10 Corngold, Stanley, 8, 9 Cornwall, Barry, 152 Cortiel, Jeanne, 21 Cosmopolitics (Cheah and Robbins), 56, 61 Covent Garden, 35, 37, 156 Cowley, Hannah, 12, 32 Cox, Jeffrey, 1, 37 Creuzer, Friedrich, 159, 164, 166, 196 Cruikshank, George, 155, 156 Cumberland, Richard, 18, 138, 141, 141n22, 142, 142n23, 146, 146n35; Alcanor, 18, 138, 142, 142n23, 146; The Arab, 18, 141, 142, 146 Curran, Stuart, 121, 152, 152n3 Damrosch, David, 4, 5, 6, 9 danse macabre, 193, 194, 195 Darwin, Charles, 93 Darwin, Erasmus, 16, 114, 118–21 Das Unheimliche (the Uncanny), 29, 48 De Quincey, Thomas, 12, 29, 29n3, 35 Death of a Discipline (Spivak), 3. See also Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty Death’s Jest Book or The Fool’s Tragedy (Beddoes), 18, 138, 143, 143n26. See also Beddoes, Thomas Lovell The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Gibbons), 16. See also Gibbons, Edward Delacroix, Eugène, 38 Deleuze, Gilles, 9, 21, 74 Democratic Review, 21, 22, 181–9 Denon, Baron Dominique Vivant, 4 Derrida, Jacques, 4, 73, 74 The Deserts of Arabia (Reynolds), 138. See also Reynolds, Frederic The Dial (magazine), 19, 160 diaspora, 50, 20 Dibdin, Charles, 11, 28, 29, 30; Edward and Susan; or, the Beauty of Buttermere, 11, 28; The Gamblers, 11, 28, 29, 30 Dibdin, Thomas John, 18, 138 Dickinson, Emily, 19–21, 159–67, 191–9

Index Dickinson, Susan, 20, 159, 160 Diderot, Denis, 27 Die Günderode (Arnim), 160–62, 165, 191, 196, 197, 198. See also Arnim, Bettine von Die Räuber (Schiller), 12, 32. See also Schiller, Friedrich Die Spanier in Peru (Kotzebue), 12, 33. See also Kotzebue, August von Dillmann, Gabriele, 13–14, 87 Dimock, Wai-Chi, 7 A Domestic Guide, In Cases of Insanity (Bakewell), 16, 116. See also Bakewell, Thomas Döring, Julius, 165 Douglas (Home), 35. See also Home, John Douglas, or the Highlander (Bisset), 102, 103. See also Bisset, Robert Drury Lane, 33, 35, 36, 38, 117 Dubois, Edward, 102, 103, 105 East India Company, 35 Edmund Oliver (Lloyd), 103, 105, 106, 107 Egypt, 2, 7, 21, 138, 139, 139n11, 140, 140n18, 143, 144, 146, 171, 172, 174, 175–7, 179 Egyptology, 140, 171–2 Egyptomania, 171, 174 ekphrasis, 5 El Cid Campeador, 35 Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 2, 7, 19, 160, 161 Esther, The Royal Jewess; or, the Death of Haman! (Polack), 138, 145, 145n31, 146. See also Polack, Elizabeth European Romantic Review (ERR), 11 execution, 30, 31, 55, 94, 103, 199 The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (Darwin), 93. See also Darwin, Charles The Farmer’s Boy: A Rural Poem (Bloomfield), 118. See also Bloomfield, Robert Fay, Elizabeth, 11 Felman, Shoshana, 65, 73, 74 Fenwick, Eliza, 99 Flaubert, Gustave, 65, 66 Folk poetry, 89 Folsom, Ed, 21 Fontane, Theodor, 87 Ford, Talissa, 12, 53


Foucault, Michel, 30, 31, 69, 70, 71, 73, 74 Foxen, James, 30 Franklin, Andrew, 138 French Revolution, 16, 34, 56, 99, 100n3, 123, 125 Freud, Sigmund, 29, 88, 94; Freudian psychoanalytic theory, 14 Friedländer, Paul, 163n4 Fulford, Tim, 10, 11 Fuller, Margaret, 7, 19, 160, 161, 164 Gadamer, Hans-Georg, 71 Galland, Antoine, 35 Gamer, Michael, 37, 124 García, José María Rodríguez, 8 Gautier, Theophile, 65, 68, 70 gender, 11, 14, 41, 42, 45, 57, 75, 76n1, 77, 81, 84, 85, 106, 149, 152, 153, 165, 167, 193, 194 Genest, John, 32, 35, 36 A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates (Johnson), 13, 54–5, 60. See also Johnson, Charles Gennep, Arnold van, 42 genre, 5, 16, 18, 22, 45, 46, 66, 68–71, 75–7, 120–21, 123–4, 126, 127, 131, 138, 147–55, 157, 191, 192, 195 Gibbons, Edward, 16 Gilbert, Sandra M. and Susan Gubar, 45–6 Giles, Paul, 189 Gliddon, George, 171, 174 Godwin, William, 1, 15, 49, 99, 100, 101– 109; Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, 100; Fleetwood, 102; St. Leon, 101, 105 Goethe’s Correspondence with a Child (Arnim), 160, 161, 165, 167 Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, 1, 13, 14, 19, 75, 75n1, 76n2, 77, 79, 81, 83–5, 87, 93, 160, 161, 165, 166, 167, 195, 196; Elective Affinities, 75; Faust, 67; The Sorrows of Young Werther, 76n2, 93, 166, 191; Stella, 75; Wilhelm Meisters Wanderungen, 13–14, 75–85 Gothic, 1, 6, 15–17, 42, 45–8; Gothic novels and history, 123–31 Greiner, Bernhard, 14, 75 Grogan, Claire, 103, 105, 108, 109


Romantic Border Crossings

Grenby, M.O., 100, 100n4, 102, 103, 104, 105 Guattari, Félix, 9, 21 Guérard, Albert, 5 Günderode, Karoline von, 19, 159–64 Guthke, Karl Siegfried, 196 Haddad, Emily, 68, 138, 138n10 Hadfield, James, 117 Hamilton, Elizabeth, 15, 102, 103, 104–12, 112n7 Hamon, Philippe, 67, 72 Hart, Gail, 75–6 Hatfield, John, 11, 27 Hays, Mary, 15, 99, 100, 101, 104–11; Emma Courtney, 106, 107; Victim of Prejudice, 101, 107, 110, 112 Heine, Heinrich, 13, 67, 73 Hemans, Felicia, 12, 18, 34, 35, 136, 137, 138, 142, 142n24, 152, 153, 155 Henitiuk, Valerie, 12, 41 Herder, Johann Gottfried, 14, 87, 87n2, 89, 90, 196 Herzog, Don, 149 heterotopia, 1, 9, 10, 11, 15; concept of “elsewhere,” 8–12, 22; 31–5; 38–9; 47 Heydt-Stevenson, Jill, 1 Higginson, Thomas, 20, 160 History of America (Robertson), 34. See also, Robertson, William The History of England (Hume), 16, 123. See also Hume, David Hoeveler, Diane, 9, 45, 47, 48, 49, 125, 128 Holcroft, Thomas, 99, 101, 102, 105, 106, 107, 108; Anna St. Ives, 101, 102, 106; Bryan Perdue, 101, 110 Home, John, 35 Hone, William, 155 Hubert de Sevrac (Robinson), 103, 105. See also Robinson, Mary Hume, David, 16, 123 Hunt, Leigh, 1, 118, 153 Hunter, Richard, 16, 113, 119 Illouz, Jean-Nicolas, 68n5, 69n6, 73n7 imperialism, 1, 11, 18, 22, 56, 61, 140, 142, 144, 145, 181, 182, 186 Inchbald, Elizabeth, 12, 18, 31, 32, 41–51, 99, 138, 144; Animal Magnetism, 12, 31; The Egyptian Boy, 18, 138,

144, 144n30; A Simple Story, 12, 41, 43, 45, 46, 47, 49, 50, 51 The Infernal Quixote (Lucas), 15, 103, 106, 107, 108, 109, 112. See also Lucas, Charles International Conference on Romanticism (ICR), 42, 65, 191 Irigaray, Luce, 85 Irwin, John, 174, 177 Jackson, Andrew, 181, 188 Jacksonian, 21, 22, 181–4, 186, 188, 189, 190 Jacobinism, 15–16, 99–112 Jeanneret, Michel, 71, 73 Jefferson, Thomas, 182 Jerningham, Edward, 34n11, 35 Jerusalem, 65, 141 Johnson, Charles, 13, 49, 54, 54n3, 55 Johnson, Claudia L., 49, 103, 104. 108 Johnston, Kenneth R, 10 Journey to the Orient (Nerval), 65, 66, 68, 69, 70, 71, 73, 74. See also Nerval, Gerard de Juhasz, Suzanne, 164, 165, 167n7, 191n1, 193, 193n7, 195, 197n11 Kadir, Djelal, 2, 3 Kaiser, David Aram, 22 Kant, Immanuel, 1, 29, 56 Kaplan, Amy, 22, 181, 182 Karl, Frederic, 50 Keats, John, 6, 118, 152 Keen, Paul, 19, 149, 151 Kelly, Gary, 15, 99, 100, 102 Kemble, Charles, 33 Kemble, John Phillip, 33 King, Sophia, 102 Kingston, Maxine Hong, 7n2 Kinkor, Kenneth J., 58 Kitson, Peter, 10, 11 Klammer, Martin, 21, 171n1, 173, 177, 178 Kolb, Jocelyne, 65, 67 Kotzebue, August von, 12, 33, 34, 155 Kristeva, Julia, 69, 69n6, 74, 140n17, 141, 141n21 Kucich, Greg, 10, 11 Kunstdichtung (poetic artistry), 14, 87 Kutzinsky, Vera M., 8 Lachman, Lilah, 20, 160, 191, 195n9 Lamartine, Alphonse Louis de Marie, 65

Index Lane, William, 65, 66 The Last Man (Shelley), 10. See also Shelley, Mary Leaves of Grass, 21, 171–9 Lectures on the Philosophy of the Human Mind (Brown), 16, 119, 120. See also Brown, Thomas Lee, Debbie, 10 Lee, Sohui, 21–2 Lee, Sophia, 45, 48 Lenore (Bürger), 87–95, 196 Les Bijoux indiscrets (Diderot), 27. See also Diderot, Denis Lewis, Matthew, 153 Liebestod, 19–20, 159–60, 191, 192, 195, 196 Liminal, 8, 12–13, 41–6, 48, 50–51, 72, 74, 124; liminality, 12–13, 41–5, 46n2, 49 Linebaugh, Peter, 58, 59 Little, Janet, 152 Lloyd, Charles, 102, 105, 106, 107, 108 Lokke, Kari, 19–20, 21, 159, 191, 191n1, 196 London, April, 103 London, 22, 31, 33, 53, 154, 156, 182, 183 Lootens, Tricia, 21 Lucas, Charles, 15, 103, 106–11 Macalpine, Ida, 16, 113, 119 Maertz, Gregory, 9–10 Malti-Douglas, Fedwa, 2 Mandel, Laura, 20–21 Manifest Destiny, 21, 22, 181–3, 186–9 The Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians (Lane), 66, 139. See also Lane, William Matlak, Richard E., 135n1, 136n2, 136n3, 136n4, 137n5, 137n7, 142n24 McGill, Meredith, 21 McKeon, Michael, 140 medieval, 6, 16, 35, 94, 125, 142, 195, 198 Mellor, Anne, 20, 203, 103, 104, 108, 135n1, 136n2, 136n3, 136n4, 137n5, 137n7, 142n24,152, 152n3 Memoirs of Modern Philosophers (Hamilton), 15, 102, 103, 104, 105, 108. See also Hamilton, Elizabeth Memoranda of a Residence at the Court of London (Rush), 22, 182. See also Rush, Richard metalepsis (rhetorical figure), 71, 74


Mexico, 2, 81, 186, 189 Middle East, 135, 136, 138, 139–41, 143–6 Miles, Robert, 125 Miller, Christanne, 164, 165, 167, 193, 193n7, 195 Mitford, Alfred John, 152 Mitford, Mary Russell, 154 Moncrieff, W.T., 29–30, 37–8 Monroe Doctrine, 183, 184, 187 Monroe, James, 183, 184 Moore, Thomas, 152 More, Hannah, 18, 144, 146 The Mouth of the Nile or, the Glorious First of August (Dibdin), 138. See also Dibdin, Thomas John Napoleon, 13, 34, 56, 57, 68, 69, 138 Napoleon’s Scientists Studying the Sphinx (Denon, painting), 4. See also Denon, Baron Dominique Vivant Nationalism, 5, 7, 7n2, 10, 22, 35, 153, 181 Natural Daughter (Robinson), 101, 105. See also Mary Robinson Naturdicthung (natural poetic art), 14, 87 Necker Cube (stage illusion), 33 Nerval, Gerard de, 13, 65–75 Nicoll, Allardyce, 28n1 North American Society for the Study of Romanticism (NASSR), 1, 3, 20, 191 Novalis, 68, 70, 71, 196 Opie, Amelia (Alderson), 15, 88, 101, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 153, Oregon, 22, 181, 182, 183, 184 Orientalism (concept), 13, 17, 18, 38, 65, 66, 70, 135, 138, 140, 141, 145, 146, 171 Orientalism (Said), 12, 35, 66. See also Said, Edward The Origins of the English Novel (McKeon), 140. See also McKeon, Michael Ornamentalism (Cannadine), 140 Osiris, 175 Ossian, 87, 89, 166 otherness, 5, 8, 10–11, 12, 22, 29–30, 35, 72, 172, 175 Otway, Thomas, 32 Our Village (Mitford), 154, 154n7. Outka, Paul, 21, 171n1, 172–4 Owenson, Sydney (Lady Morgan), 153


Romantic Border Crossings

The Pacha (Payne), 138. See also Payne, John Howard Paine, Thomas, 100, 101, 104, 107, 125 parabasis (rhetorical figure), 67, 74 Paris, 9, 31, 34, 36, 57, 65, 72, 74 Patterson, Rebecca, 161, 191 Paul, Jean, 13, 67, 68 Payne, John Howard, 138 pedagogical, 19, 79, 138, 146–51, 162 pedagogy, 17, 20, 22, 79, 144 Peer, Larry H., 9 Percy, Thomas, 89 Peru: A Poem; in Six Cantos (Williams). See also Williams, Helen Maria Petrino, Elizabeth, 193 Pirates, 13, 53, 54, 54n3, 55, 57, 58, 58n7, 59, 60, 61 Pizarro (Sheridan), 33–5 Planché, James Robinson, 18, 138, 145 Plato, 163 Platonic, 163, 167 Polk, James, 22, 183, 184, 186, 187, 188 Pollak, Vivian R., 195 Porter, Roy, 22 post-colonial, 4, 5, 6, 140, 141 Post-enlightenment, 68, 69, 71 Pringle, Heather, 140, 140n27 Probert, William, 29 prosopopeia (rhetorical figure), 20 psychiatry, 16, 113, 114, 120, 121 Purinton, Marjean D., 17–18, 135 queer theories, 84; queering, 21, 173 Radcliffe, Ann, 17, 45, 49, 124, 125, 126, 127, 151; The Italian, 17, 125n4, 127, 128, 129, 131; The Mysteries of Udolpho, 124, 131 Rediker, Marcus, 55, 58, 59 Reeve, Clara, 45 Reil, J.C. (dubbed “psychiatry”), 113n1 Reliques (Percy), 89; Inspiration for Herder, 89 Reynolds, Frederic, 138 Reynolds, Joshua, 155 Richard, Jean-Pierre, 68 Richardson, Alan, 11, 16, 113 Richardson, Robert D., 174n2, 175 Rights of Man (Paine), 101, 104, 125. See also Paine, Thomas Rivers, Bronwyn, 16–17, 123

Robbins, Bruce, 56, 61, 129 Robertson, William, 34 Robinson, Charles E, 153 Robinson, Mary, 28, 29, 101, 103, 105, 152, 153 Romantic Circles, 17 Romantic irony, 13, 67, 70–74, 167 Romanticism, 1–3, 6, 9, 10, 11, 17–22, 65, 66, 67, 69, 74, 113, 114, 120 121, 124, 139n10, 141, 147–50, 152, 152n3, 154, 155, 155n9, 156–7, 160, 161, 191n1 Rosetta Stone, 18, 139, 171, 175 Royal Coburg Theater, 28, 29, 30 Rush, Richard, 22, 182–3, 186, 187 Russell, Gillian, 155n11, 156, 156n12 Sacred Dramas (More), 138, 144 Sage, Victor, 131 Said, Edward, 4, 12, 13, 18, 35, 65, 66, 68, 70, 140, 143 Sand, George, 160, 161, 191, 191n1 Schiller, Friedrich, 12, 13, 32, 32n8, 67, 195, 196 Schlegel, Friedrich, 67, 68, 69n6 Schueller, Malini Johar, 171n1, 172, 174 Schwebe-Religion (“Hovering” religion), 20, 161, 163, 167, 191 Scott, David, 68, 71 Scott, Walter, 151, 153 Seabright, Sara, 139, 139n11 Seaton, Alexander, 34–5 Semiologies of Travel (Scott), 68, 71 Seward, Anna, 16, 114, 115 Shakespeare, William, 33, 38, 83, 124 Shelley, Mary, 10, 11 Shelley, Percy Bysshe, 119, 137, 152, 153, 155 Sheridan, Richard Brinsley, 33, 34, 35, 138 Shneidman, Edwin, 93 The Siege of Aquileia (Home), 35. See also Home, John Siege of Berwick (Jerningham), 34–5. See also Jerningham, Edward The Siege of Valencia (Hemans), 12, 18, 34, 35, 138, 142, 142n24. See also Hemans, Felicia Simms, William Gilmore, 22, 183–6 Smith, Charlotte, 2, 15, 45, 99, 101, 103, 105, 152, 153, 155, 161, 162; The

Index Banished Man, 15, 103; Desmond (Smith), 101, 104, 05, 155 Smith, Martha Nell, 161, 161n2, 162 Socrates, 163 Song of Myself (Whitman), 172, 174, 175, 176 Sørensen, Bengt, 76n2, 80n9 Spacks, Patricia Meyer, 43–4, 50–51 Spain, 31, 32, 33, 35, 54, 55, 142, 182 Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty, 3–7, 9 St. Armand, Barton Levi, 20, 160, 161n1, 191n3, 192, 192n4 St. Clair, William, 157 St. Godwin: A Tale of the Sixteenth, Seventeenth, and Eighteenth Century by Count Reginald De Saint Leon (Dubois), see also Dubois, Edward Stafford, William, 100, 104 Stone, Lawrence, 14, 76–7, 79–80 students, 17–20, 135, 138, 140–42, 146, 147, 149–51, 156, 156n13, 162, 163, 165 sublime, 17, 108, 127, 188; Burke and the sublime, 17, 127 Sylvos, Françoise, 68n5, 69n6, 72, 74 Szondi, Peter, 69 Tapscott, Stephen, 21, 172m 174m 175, 177 Teich, Mikulás, 10 Texas, 181, 182, 183, 184, 187, 189 Thaddeus, Janice, 103, 112n7 thanatos (death), 164, 165, 195, 196, 199 Thelwall, John, 99, 100, 102 Thistlewood, Arthur, 30n6 Through Other Continents (Dimock), 7. See also Dimock, Wai-Chi Three Hundred Years of Psychiatry (Hunter and Macalpine), 16, 113 The Thousand and One Arabian Nights, 139. See also Arabian Nights Thurtell, John, 11, 28–31 Tieck, Ludwig, 36 Todd, Mabel Loomis, 160 Tooke, Horne, 107 Trafton, Scott, 21, 171, 172, 174 Transatlanticism, 20–21 translation, 3, 4, 8, 8n3, 9, 27, 33, 34, 36, 81, 89, 90, 93, 139, 140, 160, 161, 162, 175, 178


Translation Studies, 3–4, 6 transnational, 1, 5, 7, 21, 181, 189n6 tropes, 15, 23, 104, 137 Trotter, Thomas, 114, 118, 120, 121 Turner, Victor, 41–2 Tussaud, Madame, 30, 31 Twain, Mark (Samuel Clemens), 6 Ty, Eleanor, 103 Valéry, Paul, 167 Victorian, 20, 46, 153, 192, 193, 198 Vigny, Alfred de, 68 Vizenor, Gerald, 7 The Vagabond (Walker), 101, 103. See also Walker, George Voyage en Orient (Nerval), 6, 13, 65, 67, 69, 71, 73. See also Nerval, Gerard de Waldorf; or, the Dangers of Philosophy (King), 102. See also Sophia King Walker, George, 101, 103 Wallace, Miriam L., 15, 99 Walpole, Horace, 126–7 Washington, George, 188, 189 Weare, William, 28–9 Wellek, René, 15, 22 What is Literature? (Damrosch). See also Damrosch, David White Mythologies (Young), 11, 27. See also Young, Robert Whitman, Walt, 8, 21, 171–9 Wilkinson, George Theodore, 30n6 Williams, Helen Maria, 34, 100, 152 Williams, Raymond, 102 Winslow, Rosemary Gates, 175 Winthrop, Robert, 184 Wollstonecraft, Mary, 15, 49, 50, 101, 104, 105, 108–11; Vindication of the Rights of Man, 101, 104; Vindication of the Rights of Woman, 104, 105, 110; Wrongs of Woman, 110 Wordsworth, William, The Borderers, 18, 32, 138; Lyrical Ballads, 32, 114, 121; The Prelude (1805), 27, 127, 139 Young, Robert, 11, 27 Zimmerman, Everett, 123, 123n1, 124