Short Reviews

RC Reviews is a collection of 700-800 word reviews on the most recent scholarship relating to British Romanticism, its authors, history, and ideas.

Nancy Yousef, Romantic Intimacy (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2013). 192 pp. (Hdbk. or digital, $55.00; cloth ISBN: 9780804786096, digital ISBN: 9780804788274).

Aaron Ottinger
University of Washington

In 2010, the Museum of Modern Art in New York hosted Marina Abramović’s performance, The Artist is Present. For seventy-five days, Abramović sat in a chair while a succeeding rotation of museumgoers sat parallel to the artist and gazed into her face. Some patrons stared at Abramović for hours at a time; meanwhile, no words were exchanged. How can we characterize this strange encounter between artist and audience?

Nancy Yousef classifies the above relational experience as a modern version of Romantic Intimacy, after the title of her second book. In this important study of affect, Yousef demonstrates how our present-day understanding of intimacy in artworks and especially in psychoanalytic practice follows from Romantic-era writers like William Wordsworth, Jane Austen, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Romantic intimacy, defined paradoxically as what is “most private [and] most shared” (119), modified the...

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Martin Priestman, The Poetry of Erasmus Darwin: Enlightened Spaces, Romantic Times. Ashgate, 2013. xiv + 310 pp.

Ross Wilson
University of Cambridge

Perhaps it is not such a bad posthumous fate to be chiefly known as the grandfather of someone much more renowned – not as bad, that is, as being known only as the son or daughter of a more feted progenitor from beneath whose shadow it proves impossible to emerge. Erasmus Darwin died some seven years before the birth of Charles, who was to become, amongst so much else, his grandfather’s somewhat less than hagiographic biographer: ‘It is curious,’ he remarked, with notable restraint, ‘how largely my grandfather […] anticipated [Lamarck’s] erroneous views’; and even more withering is the observation that ‘no one of the present generation reads, as it appears, a single line of [his poetry]’. Overshadowed by his grandson’s achievements and fallen from poetic favour, Erasmus Darwin was long considered as at best an influence on much more celebrated figures, including Charles, but also on poets such as Coleridge and...

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