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Loving LiteratureA Cultural History$
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Deidre Shauna Lynch

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226183701

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226183848.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 18 May 2022

Making It Personal

Making It Personal

(p.21) Chapter One Making It Personal
Loving Literature

Deidre Shauna Lynch

University of Chicago Press

After surveying early-eighteenth-century poetic miscellanies that--thanks to their topical organization--disappoint our expectation that aesthetic experience should be a scene of personal congress, this chapter investigates the efflorescence of biographical writing that in the later century served to tie poetry more firmly to poets. Under its influence, and in the wake of contemporary copyright decisions, literary reading became subject to new expectations of affective obligation. Readers were expected to be grateful for the gifts of the poets. This chapter recovers in the career of the critic and biographer Samuel Johnson signs of a resistance to such expectations. It then turns to Johnson’s contemporary, Anna Seward, who by contrast embraced whole-heartedly the role of lover of literature while she condemned the ingratitude toward the poets betrayed in Johnson’s Lives of the Poets. Through the pairing of Johnson and Seward, this chapter investigates the gendering of literary appreciation then and now.

Keywords:   gratitude, miscellanies, biography, Samuel Johnson, Anna Seward, gender

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