Leigh Hunt and the Poetry of Fancy

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Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, 1994 - 276 pages
Leigh Hunt has long been stigmatized as Keats's evil genius, a superficial and mannered poet whose influence can be observed in such early poems as I Stood Tip-Toe and Sleep and Poetry. His portrayal as Harold Skimpole in Bleak House has also fostered an impression of triviality and selfishness in the minds of those who do not trouble to read him. Leigh Hunt and the Poetry of Fancy, so far the only book devoted exclusively to his verse, takes issue with these received opinions and argues that, overshadowed by the work of his more gifted contemporaries, Hunt's output has suffered repeatedly from invidious comparisons. Author Rodney Stenning Edgecombe suggests that we need to bring his admittedly minor poetry out of the shadows and, approaching it on its own sunny terms, find a way of enjoying its slightness and delicate charm. With this in mind, Edgecombe urges that we approach the poet as a rococo artist, using this aesthetic category to legitimize and focus the decorative impulse that informs his vision, and the escapism that sometimes led him, as a poet, to skirt many of the issues he so bravely fought for through his Radical journalism. Like Wordsworth, Hunt divided his output into loose generic categories when he began preparing a select edition of his poetry toward the end of his life, categories retained and amplified by H.S. Milford in his 1923 edition. Edgecombe has used these divisions as a way of organizing his study, and also of illustrating the immense range of forms and genres that the poet explored in the course of a long career. He furthermore offers close readings of many seminal poems in an effort to show that Hunt, dismissed by Carlyle as a sort of poetic "tinker," was a generally creditable craftsperson, and that when the occasion inspired him, he could write very well indeed.


Preface and Acknowledgments
Fancy and Its Effects
Narrative Poems I
Narrative Poems II
Political and Critical Poems
Miscellaneous Verse
Select Bibliography

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