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The Limits of Familiarity: Authorship and Romantic Readers
by Lindsey Eckert
Bucknell University Press, 2022
Paper: 978-1-68448-390-7 | eISBN: 978-1-68448-394-5 | Cloth: 978-1-68448-391-4
Library of Congress Classification PR457.E25 2022
Dewey Decimal Classification 820.9145

What did Wordsworth wear, and where did he walk? Who was Byron’s new mistress, and how did his marriage fare? Answers—sometimes accurate, sometimes not—were tantalizingly at the ready in the Romantic era, when confessional poetry, romans à clef, personal essays, and gossip columns offered readers exceptional access to well-known authors. But at what point did familiarity become overfamiliarity? Widely recognized as a social virtue, familiarity—a feeling of emotional closeness or comforting predictability—could also be dangerous, vulgar, or boring. In The Limits of Familiarity, Eckert persuasively argues that such concerns shaped literary production in the Romantic period. Bringing together reception studies, celebrity studies, and literary history to reveal how anxieties about familiarity shaped both Romanticism and conceptions of authorship, this book encourages us to reflect in our own fraught historical moment on the distinction between telling all and telling all too much.

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