James Beattie and the progress of genius in the Aberdeen Enlightenment

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Young, Ronnie (2013)

James Beattie’s The Minstrel is often viewed as a proto-romantic work for its portrayal of the developing genius of Edwin. In this article I show how Beattie’s exploration of genius also has a particular connection to the intellectual culture of the Aberdeen Enlightenment, which was responsible for producing leading works on genius during the late eighteenth century. This article examines the influence of Marischal College in shaping the analysis of genius during the period. It further demonstrates the impact of the Aberdeen Philosophical Society on Beattie’s thought on genius as it appears in his verse and later critical writing.
  • References (81)
    81 references, page 1 of 9

    1. See W. Riddick, 'Beattie's Minstrel and the Lessons of Solitude', in Jennifer J. Carter and Joan Pittock (eds), Aberdeen and the Enlightenment (Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1987), p.325-30; Joan H. Pittock, 'James Beattie: A Friend to All', in David Hewitt and Michael Spiller (eds), Literature of the North (Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1983), p.56; Everard H. King, 'James Beattie and the Growth of Romantic Melancholy', Scottish Literary Journal 5 (1978), p.24-5; Everard H. King, James Beattie's 'The Minstrel' and the Origins of Romantic Autobiography (Lewiston and Lampeter: E. Mellen Press, 1992). Roger Robinson, 'The Origins and Composition of James Beattie's Minstrel', Romanticism 4 (1998), p.224-40.

    2. Dafydd Moore, 'The Ossianic Revival, James Beattie and Primitivism', in The Edinburgh History of Scottish Literature, vol. II, Enlightenment, Britain and Empire, ed. Susan Manning and others (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007), p.98.

    3. See, for example, L. Davis, I. Duncan and J. Sorenson (eds), Scotland and the Borders of Romanticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

    4. Murray Pittock, Scottish and Irish Romanticism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), p.134-6.

    5. Rhona Brown, 'The Long Lost James Beattie: The Rediscovery of The Grotesquiad' (forthcoming). I am grateful to Dr Brown for allowing me to read a draft of her article.

    6. Ronnie Young, 'Genius, Men and Manners: Burns and Eighteenth-Century Scottish Criticism', Scottish Studies Review 9 (2008), p.129-47.

    7. Quoted in Robinson, 'Origins and Composition', p.234.

    8. Beattie, The Minstrel; or, The Progress of Genius. A Poem (London: E. & C. Dilly, and Edinburgh: A. Kincaid & J. Bell, 1771), p.v. Unless otherwise indicated, subsequent references to the first book of The Minstrel will be to this edition and, for lines of verse, will take the form of book and stanza numbers.

    9. For a discussion of Percy's re-invention of the minstrel figure see Kathryn Sutherland 'The Native Poet: The Influence of Percy's Minstrel from Beattie to Wordsworth', Review of English Studies 33 (1982), p.417-8.

    10. Laura Bandiera, ' “In Days of Yore How Fortunately Fared the Minstrel”: Towards a Cultural Genealogy of Wordworth's Preface to Lyrical Ballads', European Journal of English Studies 6 (2002), p.193.

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