The Romantic author as spontaneous, extemporizing, otherworldly, and autonomous is a fiction much in need of revision. In this highly regarded volume, Zachary Leader argues that the continuing influence of a Romantic preference for what comes naturally, with a concomitant devaluing of the secondary processes, distorts our understanding of the actual creative practices of writers of the period, even those most closely associated with Romantic assumptions. `Second
thoughts' (including those of collaborators) play a crucial role in the writings of Wordsworth, Byron, Coleridge, Mary Shelley, Clare, and Keats. Other assumptions complicated by
a study of the actual revising practices of Romantic writers are those which associate composition with the organic and with process, or which characterize authors as independent agents or figures of coherent and consistent subjectivity. In the first part of the book, Leader shows how revisionary and editorial habits (those not only of the writers themselves but of their modern editors) reflect conflicting attitudes to the self or personal identity; in the second, these attitudes are related to
the role of `collaborators' in the revising process, including family, friends, publishers, critics, and readers.
`carefully written book'
London Review of Books
`...a scholarly work, packed with detail and loaded with footnotes. It is also enlightening, witty and provocative. Revision and Romantic Authorship argues its case, through a mass of primary evidence, with ease and consistency.'
Times Literary Supplement
`Leader's book takes a refreshingly sceptical view of contemporary editorial practices and critical assumptions, and provides a valuable antidote to what he convincingly argues can amount to a misleading fetishism of the spontaneous in Romanticism and Romantic studies ... much of the value of his book resides in its careful readings of individual literary works. Leader is often both subtle and clarifying in his readings of writers' revisions.'
Andrew Bennett, University of Bristol, Romanticism on the Net 5
`an intelligent and well-researched book'
Nineteenth-Century Literature 51:4 (March 1997)
`Revision and Romantic Authorship is an intelligent, articulate, and well-documented analysis of recent textual scholarship and current theories of editing as these fields impinge upon critical understanding of the English Romantics ... those who have missed the beginning of the lively debates among editors and require a readable introduction to some of the issues now in play in the burgeoning field of textual theory should find ample value here as a
starting point from which to engage both the texts of the Romantics and the primary documents underlying the various versions of those texts.'
Donald H. Reiman, University of Delaware, The Wordsworth Circle, Autumn '96
Part One: Revision and Personal Identity
1: Wordsworth, Revision, and Personal Identity
2: Byron, Revision, and the Stable Self
3: Coleridge's Revisionary Complexity
Part Two: Revision and Authorial Autonomy
4: Parenting Frankenstein
5: John Taylor and the Poems of Clare
6: Keats, the Critics, and the Public