By Andrew M. Stauffer

Andrew M. Stauffer explores the altering position of anger within the literature and tradition of the Romantic interval, quite within the poetry and prose of Blake, Coleridge, Godwin, Shelley, and Byron. This cutting edge ebook has a lot to give a contribution to the knowledge of Romantic literature and the cultural background of emotions.

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The anger that structures Popean satire is rarely the ungovernable emotion of Seneca’s De Ira or the irrationally creative menos of Longinus’ Peri Hypsous. X. J. ”28 And Donald Davie, after observing that, “Anger is beautiful; and the art that anger feeds is crisp and clear and bright, not the hulking and nebulous immensities of ‘the sublime’”, turns to Pope as his great example: “In . . Pope, the anger is more than half contempt. ”29 Davie follows Seneca, in the sense that he sees the loss of control of one’s anger as aesthetically and personally destructive.

It seems the less we know about the circumstances of the anger of others – its prelude, its stimulus, its target – the less likely we are to be sympathetic with it. An angry person without sufficient context seems insane, often laughable, as the enraged antics of screwball comics demonstrate. Thus personifications of anger must forego any aspirations to the aesthetics of sensibility, and aim for the sublime, if they wish to be taken seriously. Collins’s own personification of anger in “The Passions” seems caught somewhere between these two purposes, especially if we consider revenge, or active anger, as part of the same emotion: Next Anger rush’d; his eyes on fire In Lightnings own’d his secret Stings: In one rude Clash he struck the Lyre, And swept with hurried Hand the Strings.

And of all the passions which are akin to it, is harsh and discordant . . It would be a strange entertainment which consisted altogether of the imitations of hatred and resentment” (37). Much of Juvenal, then, is very strange entertainment indeed; and the growing sense that anger must be “guarded and qualified” (38) in art as well as life led poets away from Juvenalian invective towards more introspective forms. Anger, when it does appear in post-Augustan poetry, is usually quickly transformed, as in Gray’s “The Bard,” or abandoned, as in Book 3 of Cowper’s The Task, in which the poet begins a section of vituperation on classic Juvenalian themes, only to cut himself off as his anger begins to grow.

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