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"The strangest pain to bear": Corporeality and Fear of Insanity in Charlotte Mew's Poetry

"The strangest pain to bear": Corporeality and Fear of Insanity in Charlotte Mew's Poetry JESSICA WALSH I think my body was my soul, And when we are made thus Who shall control Our hands, our eyes, the wandering passion of our feet? 1 CHARLOTTE MEW (1869-1928) STRUGGLES TO ANSWER THIS very question. Through her small but powerful body of work, Mew searches for a solution to the anguish of "wandering passion" and a body seemingly beyond her control. A deeply closeted lesbian troubled by fear of insanity, she employs a wide variety of poetic voices in the quest to conquer and categorize what she saw as a disobedient, unruly body. Trying to believe the answers offered by religion and science, Mew nevertheless remains conflicted throughout her career. During her lifetime, Charlotte Mew attracted the praise of her generation's literary stars, including Thomas Hardy, Virginia Woolf, and Ezra Pound. In spite of this impressive list of references and accolades, Mew was all but forgotten by the time of her death in 1928. Noting her demise, the neighborhood newspaper ran a simple, chilling obituary for "Miss Charlotte Mary New [sic], . . . a writer of verse" (Warner, p. xiii). The inaccuracy and disregard underscore just how fickle Mew's reading public could be. Scholars http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Victorian Poetry West Virginia University Press

"The strangest pain to bear": Corporeality and Fear of Insanity in Charlotte Mew's Poetry

Victorian Poetry , Volume 40 (3) – Jan 10, 2002

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Publisher
West Virginia University Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2002 West Virginia University.
ISSN
1530-7190
Publisher site
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Abstract

JESSICA WALSH I think my body was my soul, And when we are made thus Who shall control Our hands, our eyes, the wandering passion of our feet? 1 CHARLOTTE MEW (1869-1928) STRUGGLES TO ANSWER THIS very question. Through her small but powerful body of work, Mew searches for a solution to the anguish of "wandering passion" and a body seemingly beyond her control. A deeply closeted lesbian troubled by fear of insanity, she employs a wide variety of poetic voices in the quest to conquer and categorize what she saw as a disobedient, unruly body. Trying to believe the answers offered by religion and science, Mew nevertheless remains conflicted throughout her career. During her lifetime, Charlotte Mew attracted the praise of her generation's literary stars, including Thomas Hardy, Virginia Woolf, and Ezra Pound. In spite of this impressive list of references and accolades, Mew was all but forgotten by the time of her death in 1928. Noting her demise, the neighborhood newspaper ran a simple, chilling obituary for "Miss Charlotte Mary New [sic], . . . a writer of verse" (Warner, p. xiii). The inaccuracy and disregard underscore just how fickle Mew's reading public could be. Scholars

Journal

Victorian PoetryWest Virginia University Press

Published: Jan 10, 2002

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