Reading is a weirdly phantasmic trade: animating words to revive absent voices, rehearing the past, fantasizing a future. In Romantic Shades and Shadows, Susan J. Wolfson explores spectral language, formations, and sensations, defining an apparitional poetics in the finely grained textures of writing and their effects on present reading.
Framed by an introductory chapter on writing and apparition and an afterword on haunted reading, the book includes chapters of sustained, revelatory close attention to the particular, often peculiar, literary imaginations of William Wordsworth, William Hazlitt, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, W. B. Yeats, and John Keats. Susan Wolfson also explores the work of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (a self-confessed Ghost-Theorist), Mary Shelley, and other writers of the Long Romantic era, canonical as well as less familiar. All are encountered in freshly pointed ways on an arc of investigation that builds with generative force.
Romantic Shades and Shadows is written with a lucidity, wit, and accessibility that will appeal to general readers, and with a critical sophistication and scholarly expertise that will engage advanced students, critics, and professional peers. “This could very well be Susan Wolfson's best book to date. Romantic Shades and Shadows provides an ample demonstration of and reflection on the kind of intensive and creative reading that good writing demands and rewards. Wolfson wants to teach her readers how to read literature with the care and creativity that she brings to her own writing and reading.” (Alan Bewell, University of Toronto)