By Meiko O'Halloran
This learn argues for Hogg's centrality to British Romanticism, resituating his paintings with regards to a lot of his extra recognized Romantic contemporaries. Hogg creates a distinct literary sort which, the writer argues, is healthier defined as 'kaleidoscopic' in view of its similarities with David Brewster's kaleidoscope, invented in 1816.
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Additional info for James Hogg and British Romanticism: A Kaleidoscopic Art
With a subtitle which invites comparison with the ancient oral bardic tradition which had inspired the previous generation, it provides an illuminating contrast to the earnest and fraught mid-eighteenth-century representations of the Celtic bard as a doomed tragic hero, captured iconically in Gray’s ‘The Bard. A Pindaric Ode’ (c. 1757). If Gray’s reﬁguring of the ancient Bard had epitomised the anxieties, hopes and fears of his generation, speaking to their perceived loss of socio-political and artistic power and their desire to draw inspiration from formidable poetic ancestors, Hogg’s Poetic Mirror offers an insight into the preoccupations of the post-Napoleonic literary scene.
He also understands ‘popular’ to mean part of a living tradition which is kept alive across generations in the memory and cultural practice of a demotic body of people. ’37 Hogg’s lament is especially poignant for recalling an ancient Celtic oral bardic tradition which seemed to have disappeared, but the poem itself focuses on the kindling and subsequent loss of a sixteenth-century Scottish court tradition of poetry. From early on in The Queen’s Wake, Hogg draws attention to the collective implications of such losses for modern poets and their audiences.
That man of palms and plagues, vile copyist! Seem’d compassed in wonder – in my face Wistful he gazed, and ever and anon He utter’d a short sound at every pause, But further ventured not – upon the ear Of the poor Shepherd all these breathings fell Like sounds of distant waters – like the rain, The treasures of the sky, on the ﬁrm ﬂint, So moveless his impenetrable soul, He scratch’d his poll – the Laureate look’d to heaven. (151) In this vignette, ‘Wordsworth’ interprets Hogg’s impervious and unreceptive attitude as evidence of his simple-mindedness.
James Hogg and British Romanticism: A Kaleidoscopic Art by Meiko O'Halloran