Charles Lamb as the London Magazine’s “Elia”

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Examines Charles Lamb’s satiric exuberance as an important component of Romantic emotional intensity. Lamb’s essays comment importantly – and in ways not previously recognized – on the poetry of such major romantics as Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, Shelley, and Byron, several of whom he knew personally. Lamb’s original essays in the London Magazine differ from their collected form in the Essays of Elia and have never been reprinted. This volume contains the original London Magazine essays, with Lamb’s original spelling, with commentary following.


“Perhaps of greatest significance are the connections Monsman draws between specific essays of Lamb’s and of other writers whose presence he delineates in those essays: Milton, Wordsworth, and Coleridge for examples, in ‘The Child Angel: A Dream,’ and Percy Bysshe Shelley and William Godwin in Lamb’s greatly popular essay, the anti-vegetarian satire, ‘A Dissertation Upon Roast Pig.’ ….Through much of his discourse, Monsman turns for insight to Lamb’s correspondence, which he notes sometimes serves almost as a draft for the essays….Having published numerous essays and a book about Lamb…Monsman is as well situated as any scholar in the world to present this innovative perspective on Charles Lamb’s life and work. Nearly two centuries after their first appearance, the Elia essays gain fresh significance from their vigorous reconceptualization in these pages.” – Victor Strandberg, Professor of English, Duke University

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
Preface; Introduction
1. Romantic Autobiography: “A Character of the Late Elia”; “Imperfect Sympathies”; Commentary – Elias as the “Bios”
2. Romantic Employment: “The South Sea House”; “Oxford in Vacation”; Commentary – Elia as Clerk
3. Romantic Inspiration: “Witches and Other Night-fears”; “The Child Angel”; Commentary – Elia and the Fallen Angel
4. Romantic Loss: “New Year’s Eve”; “Dream Children”; Commentary – Elia as Janus
5. Romantic Satire: “Confessions of a Drunkard”; “A Dissertation upon Roast Pig”; Commentary – Elia and Desire
6. Romantic Aesthetics “Detached Thoughts on Books and Reading”; “ A Chpater on Ears”; Commentary – Elia on Books and Music
7. Romantic Dejection: “The Superannuated Man”; “Popular Fallacies (XIV, XV)”; Commentary – Elia in Retirement
Conclusion; Bibliography Index

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