Oracles and hierophants : constructions of romantic authority /
David G. Riede.
Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 1991.
xi, 283 p. ; 25 cm.
080142626X (cloth) :
More Details
Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 1991.
080142626X (cloth) :
Bentley, G.E. Blake books, Suppl., p. 623
contents note
Blake and the Church Blake, pp. 33-91.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1992-06:
In this latest assault on literature Riede (Ohio State University) draws on the now familiar mixture of Foucault, Eagleton, Lentriccia, Jameson, et al., to redefine romanticism, as a "response to a pervasive and corrosive skepticism, a crisis of authority of all kinds." The vehemently oracular Blake, Wordsworth, and Coleridge, as if disoriented by a prolonged immersion in the mists of Derrida, are here seen as having "profound doubts about their ability to control their own meaning, and thus the process of communication." Although authors are "a hypothetical construct," Riede wishes to study how that construct "is built in specific texts," for this will "contribute to an understanding" of how "literary authority," spurious as deconstruction has revealed it to be, came to be accepted as authentic. Literature has become "a compensation for the suffering and fragmentation imposed by capitalist society. Perhaps, then, the ideological function of Romantic literature of all literature in the modern world is to support the social order even when seeming to oppose it, since literature becomes a means of solace and escape that helps to make life under capitalism bearable." Riede has read prodigiously and argues his case about as well as it can be done. But the result it both depressing and predictable. Graduate libraries might acquire this book as an example of what is now the "cutting edge" in some literary studies. Undergraduates are not likely to get far in a volume addressed to scholars and which consistently mocks the very notion of imagination, genius, truth, beauty, or the existence of a self.-N. Fruman, University of Minnesota
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, June 1992
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Main Description
Shedding new light on the institutionalization of literature as a kind of secular scripture in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, David G. Riede explores the ways in which major Romantic poets constructed the authority behind their own writings. He maintains that such seemingly idiosyncratic, iconoclastic writers as Blake, Wordsworth, and Coleridge ultimately insist upon their own authority, even to the point of imaging themselves as priests or churches.

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