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By Andrew M. Stauffer

Andrew M. Stauffer explores the altering position of anger within the literature and tradition of the Romantic interval, really within the poetry and prose of Blake, Coleridge, Godwin, Shelley, and Byron. This leading edge publication has a lot to give a contribution to the certainty of Romantic literature and the cultural historical past of emotions.

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Example text

Accordingly, Juvenal’s popularity brought him more critical appreciation than imitation. In the post-Augustan poetry of the sublime, anger shifted from the poet to some external terror-inspiring force, such as nature or God. David Morris demonstrates the importance of images of God’s wrath to this changing conception of the sublime. Paraphrases of passages from the Bible became occasions for angry tours de force, as Morris’s citation of the elder Thomas Warton’s “A Paraphrase of the xiiith Chap.

Divine anger is by definition sublime and justified; the poet portraying Ira Dei or the Dies Irae takes his place in a long tradition extending back to the prophets of the Old Testament. Such poetry forsakes the vituperatio of Juvenal for the creation of a set-piece, a tableau of wrath, that terrifies its own renderer, and thus does not implicate him in the alienating spectacle. The Longinian sublimity of divine anger was first asserted by John Dennis, who is perhaps known best for his vitriolic exchanges with Pope.

Th’ adultress! what a theme for angry verse, What provocation to th’ indignant heart That feels for injur’d love! but I disdain The nauseous task to paint her as she is, Cruel, abandon’d, glorying in her shame! 45 Towards Romantic anger 37 Facit indignatio versum, for Cowper as well as Juvenal, and the revulsion at female promiscuity and the sexual impropriety of urban society, so strongly present in Juvenal, finds an echo here. Yet just as Cowper reaches full-throated anger in line 68, he checks himself with the interruptive, “No:–”, abandoning his rage for a return to the self-involved meditations and descriptions that structure the poem; only forty lines later, the famous “I was a stricken deer” passage begins (line 109), and rumination entirely replaces vituperation.

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