Anna Letitia Barbauld: New Perspectives (Transits: Literature, Thought & Culture, 1650–1850)

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9781611487121: Anna Letitia Barbauld: New Perspectives (Transits: Literature, Thought & Culture, 1650–1850)
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Anna Letitia Barbauld: New Perspectives is the first collection of essays on poet and public intellectual Anna Letitia Barbauld (1743–1825). By international scholars of eighteenth-century and Romantic British literature, these new essays survey Barbauld’s writing from early to late: her versatility as a stylist, her poetry, her books for children, her political writing, her performance as editor and reviewer. They explore themes of sociability, materiality, and affect in Barbauld’s writing, and trace her reception and influence. Rooted in enlightenment philosophy and ethics and dissenting religion, Barbauld’s work exerted a huge impact on the generation of Wordsworth and Coleridge, and on education and ideas about childhood far into the nineteenth century. William McCarthy’s introduction explores the importance of Barbauld’s work today, and co-editor Olivia Murphy assesses the commentary on Barbauld that followed her rediscovery in the early 1990s. Anna Letitia Barbauld: New Perspectives is the indispensible introduction to Barbauld’s work and current thinking about it.

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About the Author:

William McCarthy is professor of English emeritus at Iowa State University.

Olivia Murphy is lecturer in English at Murdoch University.

Review:

In the introduction, McCarthy announces that this volume allows one to see Barbauld (1743-1825) as she was seen in her own time–as a major author–with the result that critics need no longer focus single-mindedly on issues of gender. Accordingly, the papers collected here–which emanate from a conference on Barbauld's most important political poem, Eighteen Hundred and Eleven (though only one paper focuses on that work)–engage a great range of issues: manuscript versus print publication; abolitionism and republican politics; the invention of a distinctly Unitarian rhetoric by Barbauld and her mentor, Joseph Priestley; Barbauld as editor, anthologist, critic, writer for children, utilitarian moralist, and influence on Jane Austen; Barbauld and the world of things. The contributors (among whom are many of the best critics of 18th- and early-19th-century literature, most notably Isobel Armstrong, Isobel Grundy, and Jocelyn Harris) write with a clarity and vigor that will appeal to nonspecialists and make this book genuinely useful for a broad range of readers. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. (CHOICE)

This stunning collection of new essays immediately (re)establishes Anna Letitia Barbauld as one of the most important and influential authors of the earlier Romantic era in Britain. It reminds today’s readers that Barbauld was not only a writer of extraordinary intellectual range and capacity but also a masterful stylist in prose and poetry alike. Neglected and misrepresented for nearly two centuries of conventional literary-historical commentary, Barbauld emerges from this collection of compelling essays as a protean writer whose obligations to her readers, her literary contemporaries, and her fellow citizens were never far from view and who committed herself with remarkable self-effacement to the moral and civic duty that were crucial to her as a Dissenting writer, thinker, teacher, and loyal British citizen. (Stephen C. Behrendt, University Professor and George Holmes Distinguished Professor of English, University of Nebraska)

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