Literature and Authenticity, 1780-1900

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Individually and collectively, these essays establish a new direction for scholarship that examines the crucial activities of reading and writing about literature and how they relate to 'authenticity'. Though authenticity is a term deep in literary resonance and rich in philosophical complexity, its connotations relative to the study of literature have rarely been explored or exploited through detailed, critical examination of individual writers and their works. Here the notion of the authentic is recognised first and foremost as central to a range of literary and philosophical ways of thinking, particularly for nineteenth-century poets and novelists. Distinct from studies of literary fakes and forgeries, this collection focuses on authenticity as a central paradigm for approaching literature and its formation that bears on issues of authority, self-reliance, truth, originality, the valid and the real, and the genuine and inauthentic, whether applied to the self or others. Topics and authors include: the spiritual autobiographies of William Cowper and John Newton; Ruskin and travel writing; British Romantic women poets; William Wordsworth and P.B. Shelley; Robert Southey and Anna Seward; John Keats; Lord Byron; Elizabeth Gaskell; Henry David Thoreau; Henry Irving; and Joseph Conrad. The volume also includes a note on Professor Vincent Newey with a bibliography of his critical writings.

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