Romantic Notions of Creativity Now

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Abstract

This article takes its point of departure from Paul de Man’s observation that ‘whenever romantic attitudes are implicitly or explicitly under discussion, a certain heightening of tone takes place, an increase of polemical tensions develops, as if something of immediate concern to all were at stake’ (1993, p. 3). Note the way scholars feel repeatedly called upon to deflate the possibility that a given poem was the product of sudden transport, by pointing to textual and biographical evidence that it was ‘extensively’ revised. The frequency of this critical gesture suggests that there is something in ideas like ‘spontaneous overflow’ (Wordsworth, 1800/1957, para. 6) and poetry coming ‘as naturally as leaves to a tree’ (Keats, 1966, p. 46) that is refusing to go away. The article turns to The Work of Revision (2013), Hannah Sullivan’s recent historicisation of the practice, to suggest that revision was not only less valued by the Romantics, but seems to have been less practised by them as well for a range of reasons, including technological ones to do with the general unavailability of proofs and the high cost of paper. On the other hand, contemporary poets’ interview comments suggest that revision is often far more performative than our common equation between it and a controlling rationality would seem to indicate. ‘Poetry now’ may be much closer to ‘poetry then’ than we like to assume. A concluding discussion of Jacques Rancière’s rejection of the concepts of modernism and postmodernism, in favour of a periodisation that locates present-day aesthetic judgements within the practices traced by Kant, Schiller and Coleridge, underlines this contention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalTEXT: Journal of Writing and Writing Courses
Volume25
Issue numberspecial issue 64
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2021

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