“Breaking the Silent Sabbath of the Grave”: Charlotte Smith's Sonnet XLIV and Her Place in Literary History

Roberts, Bethan ORCID: 0000-0002-4499-1024
(2017) “Breaking the Silent Sabbath of the Grave”: Charlotte Smith's Sonnet XLIV and Her Place in Literary History. European Romantic Review, 28 (5). pp. 549-570.

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This essay re-assesses the much-discussed place of Charlotte Smith (1784–1806) in literary history, through her most widely read and anthologized Sonnet XLIV “Written in the Churchyard at Middleton in Sussex” (1789). Smith is often credited with reviving the sonnet in the late eighteenth century, yet when she first published her Elegiac Sonnets (1784), the revival was already underway. This essay argues that Smith's engagement with her predecessors and contemporaries needs to be excavated and analyzed in order to understand her role and significance in the sonnet revival. It shows that Smith's negotiations with eighteenth-century sonnet tradition are manifested in Sonnet XLIV and played out upon its churchyard setting. The second part of the essay considers the many responses to Middleton Church in the years following the sonnet's publication. These shed new light on Smith's literary reputation and posthumous fate, as well as the processes underpinning it. The essay thus clarifies Smith's paradoxical “place” both in the sonnet revival and in posterity. It shows how appropriation of place itself was an important way in which aspects of literary tradition and reputation were negotiated and understood in the late eighteenth century, and beyond.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: peerreview_statement: The publishing and review policy for this title is described in its Aims & Scope. aims_and_scope_url: http://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?show=aimsScope&journalCode=gerr20
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2019 08:43
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2023 06:50
DOI: 10.1080/10509585.2017.1362342
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URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3011894