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ABSTRACT. Thomas Chatterton came to be regarded as the enfant terrible of the English letters, who in the decades and century that followed his untimely death turned the British literary scene upside down. The rebellious personality of this enfant terrible reminds one today of Sinclair Lewis, who justifiedly came to be called “the bad boy of American letters” (Parrington 1962: 62) and who at one time came himself to realize that he was, despite all appearances, “a romantic medievalist of the most incurable sort” (Lewis 1937: x) – just as Thomas Chatterton had been long ago and with a vengeance. Also much like Chatterton centuries earlier in British context, Sinclair Lewis indeed turned the American literary scene upside down. In The rise of the underground: Sinclair Lewis’s disenchanted universe, we explored Lewis’s troubled rise to fame as an author of the “underground.” We hereby propose to extend that research of the “rise of the underground” in literature by exploring the case of Chatterton. Being so intricate, this case will require a more special form of presentation: at the end of the present study, we include as evidentiary support a relevant selection of Chatterton’s works (the Rowley productions are here rendered in Walter Skeat’s modernized 1883 version which to the modern reader will be much more accessible than the originals in “Rowleyese”), with comments. The selection of Chatterton’s works is divided in two: the works reflecting the enchanted, and those reflecting the disenchanted universe (some of the texts that we consider as most important in the Chatterton corpus we quote here in full). In this sense, the general model we have had in mind for such a format is M. H. Abrams’ edition of The milk of paradise (1971), which at the end offers the reader an edition of the selected original works (of the authors explored in the critical research) that are normally difficult of access. pp. 29–172

Keywords: underground of time and space; forgery; (dis)enchanted universe; romantic genius/imagination; suicide; sympho-painting; synesthesia; Hollywood

MIHAI A. STROE
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University of Bucharest

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