Poetical Remains: Poets Graves, Bodies, and Books in the Nineteenth Century

Hardcover | October 26, 2005

bySamantha Matthews

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What happens to poets' genius when they die? The peculiar affinity which was felt to exist between their physical and literary 'remains' - their bodies and books - is the subject of this original cultural study, which concentrates on poets and poetry from the Romantic to late Victorian period.Poetical Remains deals with issues such as the place of burial, the kind of monument deemed appropriate, the poet's 'last words' and last poems, the creation of memorial volumes, and the commercial boost given to a poet's reputation by 'celebrity death', focussing in each case on the powerful,complex, often unstated but ever-present connections between the poet's body and their poetic 'corpus'. As well as the works of the poets themselves, Matthews draws on contemporary biography and memoirs, family correspondence, newspaper reports, and tribute verse among other texts, and places theliterature of poetic death in its social, material, and affective context: the conflict between the idealized 'country churchyard' and the secular urban cemetery, the ideal of private, familial burial as against the pressure for public ceremony, the recuperation of death-in-exile as an extension ofnational pride, transactions between spiritual and material, poetic and pragmatic, in a secularizing age.Some of the most poignant and darkly comic moments in nineteenth-century literary history arose around the deathbeds of poets and the events which followed their deaths. What happened to Shelley's heart, and to Thomas Hood's monument; the different fates which dictated that the first Poet Laureateappointed by Queen Victoria, Wordsworth, was buried in his family plot in Grasmere, while her second, Tennyson, was wrested from his family's grasp and interred in Westminster Abbey - these are some of the stories which Matthews tells, and which are bound up in a sustained and powerful argumentabout the way in which our culture deals with artists and their work on the boundary between life and death.

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What happens to poets' genius when they die? The peculiar affinity which was felt to exist between their physical and literary 'remains' - their bodies and books - is the subject of this original cultural study, which concentrates on poets and poetry from the Romantic to late Victorian period.Poetical Remains deals with issues such as ...

Samantha Matthews is a Lecturer in English and Comparative Literature, Goldsmiths College, University of London..

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Paperback|Jun 9 2015

$15.79 online$21.95list price(save 28%)
Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.91 inPublished:October 26, 2005Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019925463X

ISBN - 13:9780199254637

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. Reading the poet's grave2. 'Nothing but dust': Resurrecting Burns3. The grave of a poetess4. Bringing home the dead: Keats and Shelley5. Wordsworth in 'The churchyard among the mountains'6. In the cemetery7. Poets' Corner and the hero as poet8. 'The last chapter': Alfred Lord Tennyson and the red, white and blueBibliography

Editorial Reviews

"In many ways a monument appropriate to its massive and wonderfully literary subject.... Matthews's meticulous research uncovers (or re-examines, in the more famous cases) a wealth of detail and every chapter features at least one magnificent close reading--not only of the poems but of corpses, gravesites, and monuments as well."--Studies in English Literature 1500-1900