Catalogue


Life : organic form and Romanticism /
Denise Gigante.
imprint
New Haven : Yale University Press, c2009.
description
xiii, 302 p. : col. ill.
ISBN
0300136854 (alk. paper), 9780300136852 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New Haven : Yale University Press, c2009.
isbn
0300136854 (alk. paper)
9780300136852 (alk. paper)
contents note
Introduction -- Smart's powers: Jubilate agno -- Blake's living form: Jerusalem -- Shelley's vitalist 'Witch' -- Keats's principle of monstrosity: Lamia.
catalogue key
6798472
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2010-02-01:
Considering how Romantics sought to understand the essence of life and how it originated, Gigante (English, Stanford Univ.) provides a close examination of the concept of life, where life begins, and how "life force" is determined, as viewed through the prism of Romantic ideals of the late-18th and early-19th centuries. She studies the works of Christopher Smart, William Blake, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats--a time frame covering 1760 to 1830, when Romantic writers were "making sense of the life contained in the poetry of the time, at the level not only of content but also of form." Beginning with Smart's long poem Jubilate Agno and continuing through Blake's Jerusalem, Shelley's "The Witch of Atlas," Keats's "Lamia," and, to a lesser extent, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, all these writers addressed a central theme: what makes life? how can life be defined? Gigante also considers other Romantic writers who sought to tackle this question--Wordsworth, Coleridge, Polidori, and Lord Byron--and looks at how their works focused on this theme of life. An excellent addition to the literature on British Romantic authors, this book affords 21st-century readers a look into the world of writers who continue to influence writers today. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. J. Coghill East Carolina University
Appeared in Library Journal on 2009-09-01:
The question "What is life?" was a major obsession shared by the British romantic poets, writing from 1760 through 1830, and the scientists of that era. In this carefully researched study, Gigante (English, Stanford Univ.; Taste: A Literary History) analyzes four difficult poems from this period, linking their content and form with the biological theories of the time. Discussing Christopher Smart's "Jubilate Agno," she points out the similarity between his poetic organization, from small to more complex forms, and the progression found in organic life. Gigante urges readers to approach William Blake's "Jerusalem" as a whole rather than analyzing the parts separately, noting his "open organic form." Considering two later poems, she discusses the organic process carried to excess. The featured characters in Percy Bysshe Shelley's "The Witch of Atlas" and John Keats's "Lamia" are too beautiful, too dangerously attractive and are thus examples of romantic monstrosity, organic form gone too far. VERDICT For scholars with an interest in the British romantics, Gigante brings fresh interpretations to these perplexing poems.-Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Moving gracefully from Smart's animals to Keats' magnetic monsters, this brilliant book asks what the Romantic poets�or anyone�might mean by the deep and easy word 'life.'"�Michael Wood, Princeton University
"The idea of the organic has troubled critics from Coleridge through Walter Pater on to their modern scholars. Denise Gigante''s Life brings extraordinary clarity and renewed force to this traditional perplexity."-Harold Bloom
"The idea of the organic has troubled critics from Coleridge through Walter Pater on to their modern scholars. Denise Gigante''s Life brings extraordinary clarity and renewed force to this traditional perplexity."Harold Bloom
"The idea of the organic has troubled critics from Coleridge through Walter Pater on to their modern scholars. Denise Gigante's Life brings extraordinary clarity and renewed force to this traditional perplexity."�Harold Bloom
"Life develops an important subject with much persuasive force, making use of extensive and careful research. It demonstrates that concepts of 18th-century vitalistic biology are essential to understanding the forms of major Romantic poems."�Karl Kroeber, Columbia University
"Moving gracefully from Smart''s animals to Keats'' magnetic monsters, this brilliant book asks what the Romantic poets-or anyone-might mean by the deep and easy word ''life.''"-Michael Wood, Princeton University
"Moving gracefully from Smart''s animals to Keats'' magnetic monsters, this brilliant book asks what the Romantic poetsor anyonemight mean by the deep and easy word ''life.''"Michael Wood, Princeton University
"Gigante''s book is marvelously lucid and accessible, a brand of scholarship that matches rigorous textual historical analysis with a style of consistently transparent argumentation...Gigante offers intimate, tightly knit series of close readings that evidence how the legibility of life can only be grasped as a compelx process of poetic formalization."--Jacques Khalip, The Wordsworth Circle
"Gigante succeeds nonetheless in introducing the fruitful and highly suggestive concept of an epigenesist poetics."John Holmes, The British Journal for the History of Science
"Impressively broad in its interdisciplinary research and intrepid in its call to redefine our critical paradigms, Gigante''s book is also lucidly readable in its arguments. . . . This provocative, fascinating, and beautifully written study deserves our careful attention both for its subtle and powerful uses of history and its claim to transform the future of Romantic studies."Nancy Moore Goslee, Studies in Romanticism
"Life develops an important subject with much persuasive force, making use of extensive and careful research. It demonstrates that concepts of 18th-century vitalistic biology are essential to understanding the forms of major Romantic poems."-Karl Kroeber, Columbia University
" Life develops an important subject with much persuasive force, making use of extensive and careful research. It demonstrates that concepts of 18th-century vitalistic biology are essential to understanding the forms of major Romantic poems."Karl Kroeber, Columbia University
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, September 2009
Choice, February 2010
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
Gigante offers a way to read ostensibly difficult poetry and reflects on the natural-philosophical idea of organic form and the discipline of literary studies.
Main Description
What makes something alive? Or, more to the point, what is life? The question is as old as the ages and has not been (and may never be) resolved. Life springs from life, and liveliness motivates matter to act the way it does. Yet vitality in its very unpredictability often appears as a threat. In this intellectually stimulating work, Denise Gigante looks at how major writers of the Romantic period strove to produce living forms of art on an analogy with biological form, often finding themselves face to face with a power known as monstrous. The poets Christopher Smart, William Blake, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats were all immersed in a culture obsessed with scientific ideas about vital power and its generation, and they broke with poetic convention in imagining new forms of "life." InLife: Organic Form and Romanticism,Gigante offers a way to read ostensibly difficult poetry and reflects on the natural-philosophical idea of organic form and the discipline of literary studies.
Main Description
What makes something alive? Or, more to the point, what is life? The question is as old as the ages and has not been (and may never be) resolved. Life springs from life, and liveliness motivates matter to act the way it does. Yet vitality in its very unpredictability often appears as a threat. In this intellectually stimulating work, Denise Gigante looks at how major writers of the Romantic period strove to produce living forms of art on an analogy with biological form, often finding themselves face to face with a power known as monstrous. The poets Christopher Smart, William Blake, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats were all immersed in a culture obsessed with scientific ideas about vital power and its generation, and they broke with poetic convention in imagining new forms of "life." In Life: Organic Form and Romanticism, Gigante offers a way to read ostensibly difficult poetry and reflects on the natural-philosophical idea of organic form and the discipline of literary studies.

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