Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Tonra, Justin
BARS Romantic Identities Conference
“‘Masks of Refinement’: Pseudonymous and Public Personae in the Early Poetry of Thomas Moore”
School of Advanced Study, University of London, UK
Conference Paper
Optional Fields
This paper examines the role of pseudonymous writing in establishing the reputation and character of Thomas Moore (1779-1852) at the beginning of his career. The paper pays particular attention to his early writings and to the apparent contradiction that his pseudonymous publications created a persistent identity and reputation which Moore struggled to shake as his career progressed. Reviews of the pseudonymous 1801 volume The Poetical Works of the Late Thomas Little vilified its author as a corrupt and immoral influence, a characterisation which pursued Moore for many years, even after he had moved away from his early amatory poetry and made significant changes to the modes and genres of his writing.   Moore’s decisions to publish pseudonymous works are analysed in this paper, and I focus, in particular, on two aspects of Moore’s self-consciousness about poetic personae and their relation to the writer’s public persona. Firstly, I address a tactic that Moore often employed through his poetic personae: a metacritical function, by which the author seeks to undermine negative critical assessments of his work by anticipating and articulating them within the work itself. Secondly, I argue that one of the primary motivations evident in his writing as his career continued was a desire to overturn the reputation imposed upon him by certain criticisms of his early poetry. The paper concludes with an assertion that by imagining Moore’s death in his aborted duel with Francis Jeffrey in 1806, we can see how he achieved a degree of success in the latter objective.
Publication Themes