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Martin Priestman, The Poetry of Erasmus Darwin: Enlightened Spaces, Romantic Times

Alexander S. Gourlay

The life and career of the physician and poet Erasmus Darwin (grandfather of Charles) and his relationships with contemporaries in science, business, and the arts have been extensively discussed over the last fifty years, but Martin Priestman’s book represents a major advance in elucidating Darwin’s poetic and intellectual accomplishments and in exploring the ways in which he responded to and influenced a wide variety of poets, artists, and thinkers. Even alongside the literary physicist Desmond King-Hele, Darwin’s prolific biographer, Priestman seems to be well prepared to deal with Darwin’s polymathic polydextrousness, which encompassed interests in the entire range of eighteenth-century natural philosophy and technology, classical and modern poetry and fiction, economics, history, philosophy, visual art, linguistics, semiotics, radical politics, gender and sexuality, and much more.

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