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Those Who Write for ImmortalityRomantic Reputations and the Dream of Lasting Fame$
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H. J. Jackson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780300174793

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300174793.001.0001

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What About Merit?

What About Merit?

(p.113) 4 What About Merit?
Those Who Write for Immortality

H. J. Jackson

Yale University Press

This chapter describes how Leigh Hunt and Barry Cornwall failed to maintain their reputation, to argue that literary quality or merit only plays a part in the reputation of a writer. Both Cornwall and Hunt were highly esteemed by the public, but their reputation slowly faded. Hunt lost his closest friends and alienated himself from other people as he grew old; thus, there were few to promote his work when he was gone. Also, literary scholars that had sustained his collections, anthologies, and essay collections constantly sought new work; once the days of his notoriety and popularity passed, there was little incentive for editors or scholars to take up his cause. On the other hand, Cornwall quit writing poems when one of his books was panned as uninteresting by the commenters, and pursued studying law. He later tried to write poems again, but failed to receive the same recognition he established in the past. After he died, his quality of work as a writer was undermined by most literary scholars who often commented about his past successes as a poet.

Keywords:   Leigh Hunt, Barry Cornwall, literary reputation, literary merit, literary scholars

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