A new edition of an important work by Romantic-era poet and scholar Robert Southey has been edited by Dr Tom Duggett of the Department of English at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University.
Published by Routledge, Sir Thomas More: Or, Colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of Society comprises a series of imaginary conversations between Southey and the ghost of Tudor-era statesman Sir Thomas More.
Dr Tom Duggett explained how Southey’s book, first published in 1829, is a significant text for students and scholars of English literature:
“Colloquies has long been recognised – by the cultural historian Raymond Williams, for instance – as an important work,” said Dr Duggett. “It is also a key text in a political-imaginative tradition forging a link between Sir Thomas More’s Utopia and Victorian writers such as Thomas Carlyle, John Ruskin, and William Morris.”
He also explained how the book might be of interest to contemporary readers in general:
“William Wordsworth and his fellow ‘Lake Poets’ Southey and Samuel Taylor Coleridge were engaged across their careers in developing a distinctively English ‘Gothic politics’,” said Dr Duggett.
He has argued for Wordsworth’s poetry to be taken as a founding text of the Gothic, establishing a lasting Anglophone ‘culture of the Gothic’ that remains visible throughout the nineteenth century (for example, in the work of Southey).
Dr Duggett first explored these ideas in his book Gothic Romanticism (Palgrave, 2010), in which he suggests that this long-dormant but volatile mix of insular nationalism and radical traditionalism was stirred into life again after September 11, 2001.
Today, he suggests that the same political phenomenon is, under various modifications, the animating spirit behind both the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, and Brexit.
Dr Tom Duggett is an associate professor of the Department of English at XJTLU with teaching and research interests in 18th and 19th century literature, Romanticism, the Gothic, medievalism and orientalism. He is also planning scholarly editions of the 1790s Gothic Romances of Ann Radcliffe.
The product of four years of research and editorial work, with support from advisory editor Professor Tim Fulford, Dr Duggett’s version of Southey's Colloquies is a scholarly edition in two volumes providing modern readers with a fully-annotated text of this influential work.
by Danny Abbasi; photos by Liping Tian