By E. Eisner
Whereas artistically formidable poets of the period are usually characterised as who prefer a long-lasting destiny popularity to modern attractiveness, this publication finds refined, strategic and involved engagement with new modes of popularity used to be important to the experiments with literary kind of poets similar to Byron, Keats, Shelley and Barrett Browning.
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From these reflections on the worth or possibility of lasting fame the narrator modulates into a meditation Systems of Literary Lionism 43 on the celebrity of his own “years of fame,” a celebrity he asserts was both created and then dashed by fashionable women readers: Oh ye, who make the fortunes of all books, Benign ceruleans of the second sex! Who advertise new poems by your looks, Your imprimatur will ye not annex? What, must I go to the oblivious cooks, Those Cornish plunderers of the Parnassian wrecks?
But post-Byron, writers must come to grips with a literary field in which celebrity matters in new ways. On the one hand, reader-writer relationships are sensationalized and more powerfully and perhaps more dangerously eroticized, and Byron makes clear what kind of popularity it is possible for a poet to achieve. On the other hand, the phenomenon of Byron makes evident the commercialization not only of poetry but also of poetic identity itself. Byronic performance quickly becomes a cliché, as Byron himself saw, and Byron’s celebrity a figure for the efficiency and power of the “systems of literary lionism” (Martineau) writers and readers must now navigate.
On the other hand, the phenomenon of Byron makes evident the commercialization not only of poetry but also of poetic identity itself. Byronic performance quickly becomes a cliché, as Byron himself saw, and Byron’s celebrity a figure for the efficiency and power of the “systems of literary lionism” (Martineau) writers and readers must now navigate. 2 Keats, Lyric and Personality Obituaries for Keats staked their claim for attention on that paradoxical but pervasive trope of Romantic celebrity, the narrative of neglected genius.
Nineteenth-Century Poetry and Literary Celebrity by E. Eisner