Skip navigation

"The well-dissembled mourner": lightning's (dis)course in the still lives of Thomson's "Celadon and Amelia"

"The well-dissembled mourner": lightning's (dis)course in the still lives of Thomson's "Celadon and Amelia"

Stenke, Katarina (2014) "The well-dissembled mourner": lightning's (dis)course in the still lives of Thomson's "Celadon and Amelia". Studies in the Literary Imagination, 46 (1). pp. 19-46. ISSN 0039-3819 (Print), 2165-2678 (Online) (doi:10.1353/sli.2013.0007)

[img]
Preview
PDF (Publisher's PDF - Open Access)
16659 STENKE_Well-dissembled_Mourner_2014.pdf - Published Version

Download (170kB) | Preview

Abstract

This essay investigates the sources and intertexts of a famous narrative episode in James Thomson's popular long poem "The Seasons" (1746), namely the sentimental tale of "Celadon and Amelia." From its first publication onwards, this episode was repeatedly excerpted, illustrated and re-told, especially in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. As such, this story (of two pastoral lovers who are parted when one is struck by lightning) has a long afterlife and is implicated in the Romantic configurations of cultural affect that dominate Western understandings of art and literature up to the present day.

However, while its widespread influence on later writers, artists and readers has been extensively studied, the composite sources of the tale have yet to be fully recovered. This article therefore undertakes such a recovery.

In doing so, it not only reveals the wide range of media on which Thomson drew, from newspapers and scientific discourse to poetry and devotional works, but also offers a challenge to a long-established critical tradition which reads the whole of “The Seasons” as dominated by movement and sequence. Instead, it is argued, the static or "statuesque" finale of the "Celadon and Amelia" episode is replicated in many places throughout the poem, moments which reflect Thomson’s competitive engagements with intertexts in a variety of static media, and which cumulatively represent an attack on the authenticity and memorial efficacy of conventional funerary genres such as sculpture and epitaph.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: James Thomson; The Seasons; Statues; texts; adaptation; Sculpture; Rossi
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Architecture, Computing & Humanities
Faculty of Architecture, Computing & Humanities > Department of Literature, Language & Theatre
Last Modified: 27 Apr 2017 10:13
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: GREAT b
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/16659

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Downloads

Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics