The Prison in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism: The Romantic Prison - Essay

Victor Brombert (essay date 1973)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Brombert, Victor. “The Happy Prison: A Recurring Romantic Metaphor.” In Romanticism: Vistas, Instances, Continuities, edited by David Thornburn and Geoffrey Hartman, pp. 62-79. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1973.

[In the following essay, Brombert reviews the many variations on the theme of the prison in Romantic literature, including the prison as a place of fortunate solitude and as an opportunity for escaping temporal and physical restraints to spiritual development. Brombert suggests that the Romantics' emphasis on the individual prisoner allowed for a more poetic view of imprisonment than would become possible in the twentieth century, when the horrors of collective...

(The entire section is 5556 words.)

Nicola Trott (essay date 1995)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Trott, Nicola. “Keats and the Prison House of History.” In Keats and History, edited by Nicholas Roe, pp. 262-79. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

[In the following essay, Trott proposes a tension between history and poetry in Keats's writings, in part reflected in his use of prison metaphors, in which history is imagined as a constraining force on the imagination.]


The poetry is for the most part ironed and manacled with a chain of facts, and cannot get free; it cannot escape from the prison house of history … Poetry must be free!


(The entire section is 7522 words.)

Lisa G. Algazi (essay date 1998)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Algazi, Lisa G. “Throw Away the Key: The Prison as Maternal Space in the Stendhalian Novel.” Nineteenth-Century French Studies 26, nos. 3-4 (1998): 286-94.

[In the following essay, Algazi discusses the novels La Chartreuse de Parme and Le Rouge et le Noir extending the analysis of Victor Brombert's The Romantic Prison to suggest that the happiness and self-discovery of the prison relied partially on the fantasy of the prison as a return to the mother-infant relationship.]

vivre sans vous voir tous les jours serait pour moi un bien autre supplice que cette prison! de la vie je ne fus aussi heureux! … N'est-il...

(The entire section is 4020 words.)