Volume 81, Issue 2 | June 2020

Author Title
Yosefa Raz Robert Lowth’s Bible: Between Seraphic Choirs and Prophetic Weakness  
Between 1741 and 1750 Robert Lowth, Oxford’s fifth chair of poetry, presented a series of groundbreaking lectures that reimagined the Hebrew Bible as literature, emphasizing its artful formal qualities. Today he is best known for rediscovering the parallelism of ancient Hebrew poetry, which he imagined as originating in the responsive singing of the seraphim. At a time when the divine authority of the Bible was waning, the reclassification of large swaths of prophecy as poetry helped Lowth extol the human figure of the prophet as a literary genius. Lowth idealized the prophetic-poetic text as “strong”: artful, controlled, ordered, and balanced. He responded to an anxiety about the place of the Bible and biblical prophecy in eighteenth-century English society by disavowing or minimizing the irregularities, stutters, and fissures in prophecy. But by introducing prophecy into poetry, Lowth—with much ambivalence—also ushered more passion, enthusiasm, and subjectivity into neoclassical English poetry. Despite his attempts to minimize the formal and theological weaknesses he found in the prophetic text, his scholarly project also transmitted them into English literature, allowing Romantic poets like William Blake to draw on biblical prophetic weaknesses in constructing their own complex prophetic positions.
Timothy Heimlich Romantic Wales and the Imperial Picturesque  
This essay argues that the aesthetic category named the picturesque was first systematized in a Welsh colonial context and that picturesque looking always reflects, to some degree, its initially imperialist function. While the picturesque rapidly acceded to a preeminent place in British travel and landscape writing, its rise was contested by Welsh and working-class writers like the antiquarian poet Richard Llwyd (1752–1835). By conspicuously failing to impose picturesque features on a carefully historicized landscape, Llwyd’s poem Beaumaris Bay (1800) lays bare the picturesque’s antihistorical drive to eradicate local difference. Renewed critical attention to early attempts to establish an antipicturesque aesthetic may uncover important precursors to present-day postcolonial and transnational theory, precursors that can enrich the ongoing global turn in literary history.
Spencer Lee-Lenfield Translating Style: Flaubert’s Influence on English Narrative Prose  
General accounts of Gustave Flaubert’s influence on English-language writers have tended to assume that the publication of his fiction was enough to change the style of English prose. However, close examination of Flaubert’s reception in the second half of the nineteenth century shows that the novels and stories alone did not bring about a widespread shift in English prose style. Before such a transformation could happen, his theoretical statements about style in the correspondence needed to be shared with and interpreted for a new audience. Flaubert’s fiction did exert a qualified influence on the relatively few English-language writers who read and responded to it, including Mary Elizabeth Braddon and Henry James. However, not until the 1883 publication of his correspondence with George Sand, as well as significant critical mediation and translation (most notably by Guy de Maupassant, Walter Pater, and Eleanor Marx-Aveling), did his influence on English writers reach its full extent.
Kevin Brazil Lateness and Lessness  
The work of Don DeLillo and Philip Roth has been characterized as a turn to writing novels about lateness in a style that for both authors tends toward “less and less.” Their work manifests a relationship between lateness and style that departs both from canonical accounts of late style and from Theodor W. Adorno’s and Edward Said’s theories of late style as ironic anachronism. By conveying in prose style the relative decline and the contingent reduction that for Roth and DeLillo define lateness as a temporality, their novels find in lessness a motivated style for lateness. Furthermore, by reproducing in style the features of a particular historical temporality, their work suggests a method for reading the historicity of temporality through literary style.
Author Title
John T. Hamilton Ellwood Wiggins, Odysseys of Recognition: Performing Intersubjectivity in Homer, Aristotle, Shakespeare, Goethe, and Kleist
Andrew Hui Jonathan Bate, How the Classics Made Shakespeare
Paul H. Fry Marjorie Levinson, Thinking through Poetry: Field Reports on Romantic Lyric
Andrea Henderson Michael Tondre, The Physics of Possibility: Victorian Fiction, Science, and Gender
Adam Versényi Sarah J. Townsend, The Unfinished Art of Theater: Avant-Garde Intellectuals in Mexico and Brazil
Paul Michael Lützeler Todd Kontje, Imperial Fictions: German Literature before and beyond the Nation-State

Modern Language Quarterly | Department of English, Box 354330 | University of Washington | Seattle, WA 98195-4430