By Margaret Russett
Margaret Russett makes use of the instance of Thomas De Quincey, the nineteenth-century essayist most sensible remembered for his Confessions of an English Opium-Eater and his memoirs of Wordsworth and Coleridge, to check the assumption of the "minor" writer, and the way it really is regarding what we now name the Romantic canon. Situating De Quincey's writing on the subject of the "major" poets he promoted, in addition to the essays of Charles Lamb, William Hazlitt, and others, Russett indicates how De Quincey helped to form the canon through which his profession used to be outlined.
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Additional info for De Quincey's Romanticism: Canonical Minority and the Forms of Transmission
Among young men of ardent minds, liberal education and not 'with academic laurels unbestowed'" (BL 1:75). De Quincey later proudly recalled "the prophetic eye and the intrepidity" that distinguished himself and Wilson from his Oxford classmates, ignorant as they were of "their own domestic literature" and of Wordsworth above all (R 114-18). In the immediacy and intensity of his admiration De Quincey resembled Coleridge himself, who, when "during the last year of [his] residence at Cambridge" he "became acquainted with Mr.
In the immediacy and intensity of his admiration De Quincey resembled Coleridge himself, who, when "during the last year of [his] residence at Cambridge" he "became acquainted with Mr. Wordsworth's first publication," had felt that "seldom, if ever, was 29 30 De Quincey 's Romanticism the emergence of an original poetic genius above the literary horizon more evidently announced" (BL 1:77). But De Quincey, having unlike Coleridge no independent reputation as an author, represented for the Wordsworths an unimpeachable test of the poet's empirical effectiveness.
Evangelism supplies one vocabulary for this reward: a credential of professional competence in that most abstract of domains, the human heart. 39 By attesting to his Wordsworthian cure, De Quincey marks the efficacy of a new form of social power, which both parties mistake for "apostolic fervour of holy zealotry" (R 181). The nature of this meconnaissance, and the way it structured the reciprocal desires of agent and patient, would not lack consequences in their later meetings and misunderstandings.
De Quincey's Romanticism: Canonical Minority and the Forms of Transmission by Margaret Russett