Formal relocations: the method of Southey's Thalaba the Destroyer (1801)

Porter, D. (2009) Formal relocations: the method of Southey's Thalaba the Destroyer (1801). European Romantic Review, 20(5), pp. 671-679. (doi: 10.1080/10509580903407829)

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In this essay, I offer the Enlightenment Science of Man and its analogical framework as a context for reading Robert Southey's Oriental epic Thalaba the Destroyer. Southey's formal choices involve him in a standing debate over the role of analogy in empirical inquiry: the pleasures of analogy might deceive an inquirer into taking poetical expressions for philosophical truth. In Thalaba, this tension between rhetoric and fact becomes visible when the cultural analogy between ancient Britain and Muslim East straddles the typographical boundary between verse and note. The swath of empirical data Southey appended to the poem, I argue, continually disrupts his formal experiment, thereby illuminating the ruptures in empiricist method when adapted into the service of cultural comparison.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Porter, Dr Dahlia
Authors: Porter, D.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Journal Name:European Romantic Review
Publisher:Taylor and Francis (Routledge)
Published Online:21 December 2009

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