Reading Christopher Smart in the Twenty-first Century
Min Wild and Noel Chevalier
"By Succession of Delight"
Poet, essayist, actor, hymn-writer, wit, magazine editor, transvestite stage performer: Christopher Smart, Georgian don-turned-writer, was all of these. He was, and remains, a mercurial individual, an idiosyncratic yet strangely familiar writer of spiritual heights and material depths. His paradoxical exuberance fascinates scholars of eighteenth-century culture, and this collection of essays, a snapshot of current scholarship from both new and established Smart scholars, offers, among others, literary, theological, dramatic and philosophical perspectives on his writing. Here are new ways of reading familiar Smart works - including the astonishing, devout poem of his incarceration, Jubilate Agno - and unfamiliar ones, such as his translations and writing for children. Unexpected readers of Smart, from Coleridge to a testy anonymous annotator, are examined, and Smart's sacred translations and profane stage presence each find a place. Tom Keymer's re-evaluating afterword finds the quality of "betweenness" in Smart's work: between eras, between genres, between forms, Smart's vitality demands reassessment for each new generation of readers.
About the authors:
Min Wild lectures in eighteenth-century literature and theory at Plymouth University, UK. She is the author of Christopher Smart and Satire (Ashgate, 2008).
Noel Chevalier teaches English at Luther College, University of Regina. He has published articles on Jubilate Agno and on Smart's challenge to "legitimate" playhouses in Mrs. Midnight's Oratory.