Robert Southey, The Exterminating Angel
Michel Houdiard Éditeur
In a letter to a friend date 26 July 1796 the young Robert Southey, who had just made a promising start as a poet with his revolutionary epic Joan of Arc, characteristically wrote: “I saw five or six men on Sunday stoning a dog to death—and I heard the dog’s cries—and I wished I had been the Exterminating Angel”. An emotinal, nervous, almost pathologically shy man, Southey would often react in a violent way to defend causes which he considered just. Leading a secluded life in the Lake District, he kept actively participating in the social, economic, and plitical debated that prevailed in England during the first half of the XIXth century. The life of this committed writer appointed Poet Laureate in 1813 was an unending crusade against evil. His two most llustrious ennemies were napoleon, whom he not seldom beheadedin his dreams, and Lord Bron, the very embodiment of Satanic foreces in his view. This biographical study should help the reader properly estimate the volumious work—too long relegated to an undeserved purgatory—of a talented man of letters whose influence on the Romnatic movement was far greater than is commony admitted.
Jean Raimond, a former president of the University of Reims (France), is Professor Emeritus of English Literature, and honorary chairman of the “Société des Anglicistes de l’Enseignement Supérieur”. He has contributed to a French tarnslation (with critical introductions and notes) of Kipling’s works for La Pléiade, Gallimard, and is co-editor (with J. R. Watson) of A Handbook of English Romanticism. Many publications of his deal with major British figures of the Romantic period.