By Felicity James
This e-book makes the case for a re-placing of Lamb as reader, author and pal in the middle of the vigorous political and literary scene of the 1790s. analyzing his little-known early works alongside others through the likes of Coleridge and Wordsworth, it allows a revealing perception into the inventive dynamics of early Romanticism.
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Additional resources for Charles Lamb, Coleridge and Wordsworth: Reading Friendship in the 1790s
It is the ‘Jasmine harbour’ of the publisher Joseph Cottle’s Reminiscences, supplied with bread and cheese and true Taunton ale, and it appears, also, in William Hazlitt’s essay, ‘My First Acquaintance with Poets’: Thus I passed three weeks at Nether Stowey and in the neighbourhood, generally devoting the afternoons to a delightful chat in an arbour made of bark by the poet’s friend Tom Poole, sitting under two fine elm-trees, and listening to the bees humming round us, while we quaffed our flip.
If they be, of what consequence is it that they are mine? (PJ, 50) In Godwin’s uncompromising revision of social relations, neither the consanguineal nor the conjugal tie is privileged. ‘Esteem and affection’ (PJ, 199) is still crucially important, but this must be based not on 32 Charles Lamb, Coleridge and Wordsworth family bonds, tradition, or hierarchy, but on reason and justice, ‘pure, unadulterated justice’ (PJ, 50). Pantisocracy sought to bring together this Godwinian emphasis on justice with a belief in the central power of familial or friendly love.
32 It was a time when concepts of intimacy, domesticity, and kinship were being formulated and tested. From the hapless Tristram Shandy, constantly snagged by ‘domestic misadventures’ in his attempts to write his family history, to the spectres of incest and patriarchal violence which haunt and disrupt the Gothic novel, the family narrative of the eighteenth century keeps being re-written. 34 More recent work has developed both these ideas, showing that a new emphasis on affective relationship ran alongside an anxiety about how the family should be defined.