Voluptuous Opportunities: Visual Images in the Keepsake

  • Terence Allan Hoagwood
  • Kathryn Ledbetter


Analysis of the sort that Sappho and Phaon and its history call forth illustrate a methodology of literary criticism that is the larger purpose of “Colour’d Shadows.” That method involves analyses of a process of production and reception: William Lane’s Minerva Press captured Mary Robinson’s 1813 edition of Sappho and Phaon within a canon of romance novels, where the fictions of love and stereotypes of women as frail, dependent creatures conquered revolutionary ideology textually encoded in Robinson’s previous 1796 edition. Lane’s militaristic, conservative politics intervened when he, as a publisher and proprietor, issued Robinson’s text because its presence among Minerva books imprints conservative views upon the readings of the poems. Marketed by Lane as domestic products to engage women reader’s emotions, the poems are draped with anti-intellectual meanings by the Minerva Press, and not by Mary Robinson. Paradoxically, this industrial depersonalization of literature, of which Sappho and Phaon is a telling example, coincides historically with the Romantic rhetoric that personalizes the concept of literary meanings; this relationship is paradoxical because, as Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno have said, under conditions of industrial productivity “the individual disappears before the apparatus which he serves”1 The apparatus manufactures and bears meanings, in the web of paratextual matter described by Gerard Genette as materials that “surround [a text] and extend [it], precisely in order to present it, in the usual sense of this verb but also in the strongest sense: to make present, to ensure the text’s presence in the world, its “reception” and consumption in the form (nowadays, at least) of a book.”2


Sexual Deviance Literary Annual Foreign Woman Story Picture Peasant Woman 
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© Terence Allan Hoagwood and Kathryn Ledbetter 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Terence Allan Hoagwood
  • Kathryn Ledbetter

There are no affiliations available

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