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Tearful Werther or Sound Companionship:The Love-Letters of Mary Hays as a Circulation of Pre-Romantic Ideas
University of Borås, School of Education and Behavioural Science.
2009 (English)Conference paper, (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

During the decades that preceded the height of the Romantic age, innovative ideas were spreading across Europe, foreshadowing changes to come. Many of the ideas that were in circulation resonated powerfully in writings beyond the realm of published works. As contemporary letters issued from the personal sphere give evidence of, literary ideals had a direct influence over the life of individuals. This paper explores the letters of Mary Hays as an expression of the mêlée of conflicting ideals that the reading public of the late 1770s had to adjust themselves to. Before she became a writer, Mary Hays had been separated from her fiancé John Eccles for two years due to family difficulties, and established a clandestine correspondence with him in order to maintain contact. Together they imitated the immensely popular mode of epistolary writing; as a young couple sharing a passion for reading they invigorated their written dialogue by appropriating many literary expressions and characterisations. With the pervasive allusions to writers such as Alexander Pope, James Stephens, Frances Brooke, and Wolfgang Goethe, their correspondence offers a suggestive insight into the contrasting standpoints that characterised an era of transition later to be defined as “Pre-Romantic”.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009.
Keyword [en]
letters of mary hays, pre-romanticism, mary hays, Women's 18th-century radical writing
National Category
General Literature Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hb:diva-6562Local ID: 2320/8128OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hb-6562DiVA: diva2:887258
Conference
The British Association for Romantic Studies 11th Biannual Conference, University of Roehampton, UK
Available from: 2015-12-22 Created: 2015-12-22 Last updated: 2016-11-18Bibliographically approved

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