Surprisingly little has been written about homosexuality in British Romantic writing, and similarly little discussion has emerged about homosexual themes in the lives and poetic careers of the major romantics. In this volume, Andrew Elfenbein shows the centrality of disreputable desires to the works of romantic male authors - from William Beckford to Samuel Taylor Coleridge to William Blake - as well as to the writings of lesser-known but equally significant female authors of the period. As the author argues, the stereotypes applied to the "genius" and those applied to the homosexual have much in common. He shows how authors who had few of the traditional claims to attention - elite education or high social rank, for instance - were often the ones most intent on presenting themselves to the literary public as geniuses. In these claims, he shows, such writers also emerge as the most likely to portray transgressive and daring representations of love. This work presents an insight into the emergence of the stereotypical personality of the homosexual, and offers a convincing argument for the significance of aesthetics in queer history.
In Romantic Genius, Andrew Elfenbein combines traditional Romantic author studies with the interpretive flexibility of queer theory. The result is a provocative study that will introduce some readers to lesser-known Romantic writers and texts, and demand that others see familiar figures in a new light. -- Lisa Moore Albion