Spontaneous Overflows and Revivifying Rays: Romanticism and the Discourse of Improvisation

Spontaneous Overflows and Revivifying Rays: Romanticism and the Discourse of Improvisation

Spontaneous Overflows and Revivifying Rays

Romanticism and the Discourse of Improvisation

by Angela Esterhammer

$8.95

  • Autumn 2004
  • ISBN 978-1-55380-020-0 (1-55380-020-6)
  • 5-3/4″ x 9″ Trade Paperback, 36 pages
  • Literary Criticism






In this Garnett Sedgewick lecture given to the Department of English at the University of British Columbia in 2004, Angela Esterhammer introduces us to the art of the nineteeth-century Italian improvvisatori, who created spontaneous verses on topics chosen by their audiences.

English Romantic poets such as Shelley and Byron witnessed some of these performances, especially by Tomasso Sgricci, and were greatly impressed. The ability of the improvvisatori touched on the very essence of poetic creation: is it simply, as the improvvisatori would seem to demonstrate, “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” or does it have to be “recollected in tranquility,” as Wordsworth had suggested?

Dr. Esterhammer examines the ramifications of these two questions through the poetry and letters of the of the English Romantic poets who had witnessed the art of the improvvisatori, and in so doing presents some fascinating material and insights into the act of creation and the springs of the artistic imagination.

Garnett Sedgewick Memorial Lectures: