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By James Treadwell

What did autobiography suggest to Romantic readers and writers? How do autobiographical texts of the interval mirror, show, and negotiate those stipulations? Answering those questions and extra, James Treadwell examines a large choice of Romantic texts, with unmarried chapters dedicated to works by way of Coleridge, Byron, and Lamb. by means of holding a continuing relation among the texts and their contexts, this publication deals the 1st right research of what's really intended via "Romantic autobiography."

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By predetermining each narrative according to his own conceptions of human nature and progress, he makes them into instructive tales. Curiosity and amusement appear in these imaginary instances to merge into a broadly didactic frame of reading. The practice of self-examination is thus interpreted from two rather different directions. One aspect of the essay figures it as a literary activity, producing a text valued for the unique possibilities it offers readers. Another presents self-examination in terms of moral discipline and instruction, bringing the self ‘within the scope of clear reflection’ (p.

A more typical response would be the opening of the Monthly Review’s notice in the appendix to its 1782 volume: WHO is the man (we were going to say miscreant) that has exposed to the light of noon-day this strange mixture of secret, personal history, with the wild but sometimes ingenious effusions of an over-heated brain? 13 The degree of incredulous astonishment produced by the Confessions is evident in this reviewer’s doubt over their authenticity. Many readers were inclined to be suspicious—even in 1790 the Monthly worried about the new volume’s ‘genuineness’14—despite the work’s unmistakably 10 11 12 European Magazine, iv.

Romantic-period commentators often saw the transgression of social and textual norms in the name of individuality as autobiography’s mark of Cain. This is, essentially, the gesture to which the prescriptive effort reacts; it is the negative image of institutional efforts to outline and evaluate the domain of autobiography. The gradual formation of a genre is thus founded on (and against) the principle that autobiographical writing cannot be a genre, the principle of inimitability or absolute singularity.

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