Drawing upon historicist and cultural studies approaches to literature, this book argues that the romantic construction of the self emerged out of the growth of commercial print culture and the expansion and fragmentation of the reading public beginning in eighteenth-century Britain. Starting with an overview of eighteenth-century developments and their impact on authorship, this book explores the construction of personal and poetic identity in the writing of Alexander Pope, Thomas Gray, James Beattie, William Cowper, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and William Wordsworth. Arguing for continuity between eighteenth-century literature and the rise of Romanticism, this groundbreaking book traces the influence of new print market conditions on the development of the Romantic poetic self.

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