The Gothic-Romantic Hybridity in Mary Robinson’s Lyrical Tales

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Abstract

Mary Darby Robinson is well known for writing her final volume of poems, the Lyrical Tales (1800), as a direct answer, sometimes poem by poem, to Wordsworth and Coleridge’s 1798 Lyrical Ballads. What has been less studied is how deliberately hybrid in style and allusions her response-poems are in the Tales, especially how prominently they foreground Gothic imagery, theatricality, and hyperbole in poems that also ape the emerging “romantic” mode of the Ballads themselves. Part of that “cheekiness,” I argue, stems from the condemnation of the Gothic that both Wordsworth and especially Coleridge had articulated in print, while also echoing it, albeit in highly modified ways, in their poetry. Most of what Robinson attempts with her hybrid Tales, though, develops the penchant in Gothic for symbolizing deep and unresolved ideological conflicts in Western culture. Her answers to Wordsworth and Coleridge, which I exemplify with selected Robinson Tales, therefore, bring out those very conflicts underlying, haunting, and even tormenting the speakers and the subject-matter in the original Lyrical Ballads.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)368-379
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Legacy
Volume24
Issue number3-4
DOIs
StatePublished - May 19 2019

Keywords

  • Coleridge
  • Gothic
  • Lyrical Ballads
  • Lyrical Tales
  • Mary Robinson
  • Wordsworth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Philosophy

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