"Genial" Perception

Book"Genial" Perception

"Genial" Perception

Wordsworth, Coleridge and the Myth of Genius in the Long Eighteenth Century

Clemson University Press: Eighteenth-Century Moments

2022

March 1st, 2022

£90.00

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Description

Genial Perception offers a critical examination of Wordsworth’s and Coleridge’s naturalist construction of creative and critical perception, and a historical study of the perceptual dimension of poetic taste. “Genial” is the adjectival form of “genius,” and eighteenth-century critical naturalism understands “genial” perception as a gift of nature, as an inborn power operating autonomously through the senses and imagination and thus independently of cultural influence.

By exploring the philology of keywords and binaries inherited by the two poet-critics and used to describe and interpret their perceptual experience, both creative (imaginative) and critical, Genial Perception traces how that experience reveals an unacknowledged indebtedness to discourse and language, having been silently and perhaps unconsciously shaped by patterns and trends in the literary culture in which Wordsworth and Coleridge came of age.

This study shows that critical perception, often thought to be too elusive and subjective to make a proper subject for historical investigation, can be approached through study of the terms—the language—of the practical criticism that attempts to communicate it; that both critical and creative perception are far more dependent on language than is commonly recognized; and that philology, by recovering the original usage, functions, and contexts of critical keywords, provides for an accurate historical understanding of the claims made by critics in the long eighteenth century for “genial” perception, and can illuminate the dynamics of “genial” perception itself.

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Author Information

William C. Edinger was a professor of English at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. He was a specialist in poetry and 18th century literature and was a founder of the English Department Honors Program. He passed away in 2021.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Introduction
Chapter One: “Genial” Perception
Chapter Two: The Imagination / Fancy Distinction and the Tradition of
Critical Binaries
Chapter Three: Critical Binaries of the Mid- and Later Eighteenth Century
Chapter Four: Local Unity of Effect in Wordsworth and Coleridge
Chapter Five: Perceptual Naturalism in Wordsworth (I): Artful and
“Natural” Beholding; Languages of Art and Languages of “Nature”
Chapter Six: Perceptual Naturalism in Wordsworth (II): Longinian Beholding
and Wordsworth’s New Pictorialism
Chapter Seven: The Shaftesburyan Inheritance
Chapter Eight: “Genial” Perception and Literacy
Chapter Nine: Wordsworth’s Revisions to the Snowdon Episode
Conclusion: The Philology of Unacknowledged Indebtedness
Appendix A: The Snowdon Passages
Appendix B: “Soul” and “Imagination” in The Prelude
Notes