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Letitia Elizabeth Landon and Metrical Romance

The Adventures of a ‘Literary Genius’

Serena Baiesi

Letitia Elizabeth Landon (1802-1838) was one of the leading women poets of the second generation of English Romantic writers. Following her predecessor Walter Scott and her contemporary Lord Byron, she was a fluent practitioner and essential innovator of the metrical romance and exerted a strong influence on the work of Victorian poets (especially Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning and Christina Rossetti). This book analyses Landon’s poetics, with particular reference to the close relationship between the narrative poem as literary genre and its gender implications.
Landon was both an eclectic writer and a literary businesswoman: she was an extremely effective promoter of her literary work in order to support her independent life in London. Furthermore she was the editor of several annuals and gift-books, wrote for magazines, and published numerous poems, novels, and editorials. Her active life and mysterious and premature death in Africa attracted the curiosity of many biographers during the twentieth century, but only in recent times has critical attention been paid to her rich literary output. This volume aims to discuss and analyse the work of a talented artist whose metrical romance strongly influenced the poetics of late Romanticism, and prefigured a highly successful genre widely adopted during the Victorian age: the dramatic monologue.

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APPENDIX ONE: Reviews and Magazines: L.E.L.’s critical reception in the nineteenth century 161

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APPENDIX ONE Reviews and Magazines: L.E.L.’s critical reception in the nineteenth century The Literary Gazette, 389, 1824, pp. 417–20. The Improvisatrice; and other Poems. By L.E.L. 12mo. pp. 327. Lon- don 1824. Hurst, Robinson, & Co.; Edinburgh, Constable & Co. It will be expected from us that we speak on this volume in terms of the warmest admiration; because, if we had not thought very highly of the genius of its author, the pages of the Literary Gazette would not have been enriched with so many of her compositions. But indeed we are enthusiastic in this respect; and as far as our poetical taste and critical judgment enable us to form an opinion, we can adduce no in- stance, ancient or modern, of similar talent and excellence. That the Improvisatrice is the work of a young female, may, at the outset, lessen its importance in the eyes of those who judge by analogy, with- out fairly examining individual merits; but it will ultimately enhance the value and augment the celebrity of this delightful production. If true poetry consists in originality of conception, fineness of imagination, beautiful fitness and glow of expression, genuine feeling, and the outpourings of fresh and natural thoughts in all the force of Our contemporaries of the periodical press, both in London and the country, will, we are sure, excuse our hinting to them the propriety of acknowledging whatever extracts they may choose to select from this publication. The compositions of L.E.L., as they have appeared in the...

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