3.NORTH January 2017.pdf (303.8 kB)
Intertextual Sociability in Victorian Lives of the Romantic Poets: Thomas De Quincey’s ‘Lake Reminiscences’ and Edward John Trelawny’s Recollections of the Last Days of Shelley and Byron
journal contributionposted on 2017-08-22, 11:19 authored by Julian North
This essay explores the ways in which literary biographers have made intertextual allusions to the work of their subjects as a means of reconstituting lost personal and creative relationships. Thomas De Quincey’s ‘Lake Reminiscences’ (1839) and Edward Trelawny’s Recollections of the Last Days of Shelley and Byron (1858; revised 1878), were auto/biographical accounts of time spent amongst Romantic literary friendship circles. Building on recent approaches to Romantic sociability within these groups, I argue that the quotations from the poetry of Wordsworth, Shelley and Byron in the ‘Reminiscences’ and Recollections show De Quincey and Trelawny extending and reconfiguring the collaborative, allusive practices of the Lake poets and the Pisan circle. However, unlike the poets they memorialised, De Quincey and Trelawny were importing poetic quotations into prose auto/biographies aimed at a mass early- to mid-Victorian readership, in an age of literary celebrity. In distinctive ways, their languages of allusion created relationships between biographer, subjects and audience, whose desire for participation in the literary circle was modelled by the biographers themselves. Rather than seeing intertextuality as an impersonal or appropriative mode, I suggest in this essay that literary memoirs deploy it as a means of sociability, writing the lives of biographers, subjects and readers together in tissues of quotation.
CitationLife Writing, 2017, 14 (2), pp. 155-169
Author affiliation/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, ARTS AND HUMANITIES/School of English
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