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Henry Crabb RobinsonRomantic Comparatist, 1790-1811$
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Philipp Hunnekuhl

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789621785

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789621785.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 10 April 2021

The Godwinian Critic

The Godwinian Critic

(p.45) Chapter Two The Godwinian Critic
Henry Crabb Robinson

Philipp Hunnekuhl

Liverpool University Press

Chapter two discloses how Robinson’s in-depth study of William Godwin’s Political Justice prompted his first theory of literature, published in a mid-1795 article in Benjamin Flower’s radical Cambridge Intelligencer. According to this theory, Godwin’s necessitarian philosophy had succeeded in situating truth in the moral concerns that a poet raises. Where an author’s imagination proves compatible with the laws of necessity, literature may exert a direct didactic influence on the motives governing the mind, and thus promote disinterested benevolence. Godwinism qua ‘New Philosophy of Love’, it emerges further from Robinson’s hitherto unknown draft article ‘on novels’ (1798) that he intended for John Aikin’s radical Monthly Magazine but never submitted, pervades Robinson’s formal and informal literary criticism prior to his turn to Kant. Robinson’s Godwinian criticism already comprised comparative elements, discussing, for instance, novels by Godwin himself, Thomas Holcroft, Ann Radcliffe, Jonathan Swift, Voltaire, and Friedrich Maximilian Klinger, among many more.

Keywords:   Ann Radcliffe, Cambridge Intelligencer, comparative literature, disinterested benevolence, Friedrich Maximilian Klinger, literary criticism, Monthly Magazine, necessitarianism, Voltaire, William Godwin

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