This essay takes up ephemeral timescales in Romantic aesthetics in order to question how reading practices engage with the spatial figure of a “surface.” My point of departure is William Hazlitt, but the essay draws an arc from Hazlitt’s interest in William Hogarth (looking, in the process, at his The Analysis of Beauty) to the marked influence of Hazlitt’s aesthetic principles of ephemerality and wit on the writing of John Keats. The essay concludes by reading between Keats’s digressively ephemeral epistolary style, and several of the Odes in which ephemerality serves the poet as a figure of both threat and promise. I argue that the meeting of Hazlitt, Hogarth, and Keats enables us to think about reading practices as different ways of feeling surfaces.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cultural Studies
- Literature and Literary Theory