“Prattling about Greece and Rome”: Paganism, Presumption, and Gender

  • Suzanne L. BarnettEmail author
Part of the The New Antiquity book series (NANT)


Barnett explores how the pagan adoptions of Mary Robinson, Mary Tighe, Mary Shelley, Emma Hamilton, John Keats, and Leigh Hunt were read by contemporary critics as both presumptuous and either troublingly sensual or suspiciously effeminate. By adopting classical tales by Ovid and Sappho, women writers could circumvent the taboo against women writing about sexuality and avoid (or forestall) critical censure. Keats’ and Hunt’s “pretty paganisms” and sensual excesses were regarded suspiciously by a hostile press that compared these “Cockney poetasters” to “Hottentot[s] in top-boots” for aping a cultural heritage supposedly above their stations. For both the “cockney poets” and women writers, paganism was an energy seemingly capable of revolutionizing society when all other methods (like economic and political) seemed inaccessible to them.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Francis Marion UniversityFlorenceUSA

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