Reviews of The Letters of William Godwin, Volume I: 1778-1797

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‘This is a magnificent, definitive edition of William Godwin’s letters…. We think of editions as valuable research tools, and so they are. But I read this volume cover to cover for the story. It has an imaginative, psychological, and topical consistency…. This deep-structure “feel” for the 1790s, however, springs not just from reading Godwin’s letters. Much of it comes from Pamela Clemit’s learned, concise, and perfectly balanced notes…. She is an editor of superb critical acumen…. As a result of Clemit’s great work, I should think that a good deal of fine tuning, if not outright revisionism or probes in wholly new directions, might become possible in scholarship on “Godwin and His Circle”.’ (From Kenneth R. Johnston, Review 19, 27 May 2011.)

‘Immaculately edited.’ (From John Barrell, ‘May I come to your house to philosophise?’, London Review of Books, 33: 17 (8 Sept. 2011), 21-3.)

‘Clemit’s fully comprehensive edition will be definitive, judging by the meticulous editorial work demonstrated here…. The footnotes that accompany the letters are superb…. Scholars of the Romantic period have much cause to be grateful for her efforts…. a magnificent achievement.’ (From David O’Shaughnessy, Review of English Studies, 62 (2011), 821-3.)

‘Clemit’s editorial work undoubtedly adds greatly to the value of these letters. She has left scholars in her debt and whetted our appetite for the succeeding volumes in the series.’ (From H. T. Dickinson, Enlightenment and Dissent, 27 (2011), 186-7.)

‘Pamela Clemit judges the tone and texture of her notes perfectly, so that the glosses to each letter are at once self-contained, engaging and accessible, as well as skilfully integrated into the volume as a whole, helpfully gesturing forwards and backwards in order to elucidate the interconnectedness of Godwin’s acquaintance and thought…. The appearance of the first volume of his letters will prove an inestimable boon to scholars eager to shed light on still dim corridors of Romantic writing and thought.’ (From Kerry Grovier, Times Literary Supplement, 2 Mar. 2012, 5.)

‘This excellent first volume of the collected edition of Godwin’s letters, scrupulously edited by Pamela Clemit …. Clemit’s introduction to Godwin’s letters does a fine job of situating him in the overlapping social worlds he inhabited, including a wonderful mini-essay on the postal services that sustained this wealth of correspondence…. This first volume of letters gives a wonderful slide show of the years when Godwin’s reputation was at its height. (From Jon Mee, ‘William Godwin’s Moment’, Huntington Library Quarterly, 75: 1 (Mar. 2012), 123-9.)

‘Pamela Clemit’s magnificent edition of Godwin’s letters …. Clemit’s biographical notes are exemplary, succinct, informative and clearly presented, and the editorial apparatus laid out after each letter often includes substantial quotations from the other side of the correspondence, allowing readers to follow both sides of the exchange…. students of the period will look forward with great anticipation to subsequent instalments of this project.’ (From James Grande, The Charles Lamb Bulletin, NS 155 (Spring 2012), 95-8.)

‘This impeccable edition …. Standard benefits of meticulous editing—collating textual variants, determining chronology, annotating documents, providing background and context for the edition—are accomplished so effectively here that they prove as useful for comprehending the significance of Godwin as the letters that occasion them.’ (From Julie Carlson, ‘If Truth Be Told’, Romanticism, 18: 2 (July 2012), 204-11.)

‘This volume offers new insights into the literary, political, religious, and educational life of the late eighteenth century, resituating Godwin in a remarkable intellectual world characterized by religious and political heterodoxy. Clemit is an exemplary editor, tackling challenging archival material with assiduous care and attention. Her detailed and informative annotations shed light on the myriad personal and literary allusions within the correspondence…. This volume … offers an unprecedented insight into the life and mind of an avant-garde writer and intellectual.’ (From Stephen Burley, Notes and Queries, 59: 4 (Dec. 2012), 605-6.)

‘This magnificent edition will help recuperate Godwin for Romantic period scholars, and Clemit’s careful and illuminating research is evident throughout.  The exemplary annotations balance accuracy, valuable contextual information, and conciseness…. The letters … will enable scholars to open up Godwin’s oeuvre in ways never possible before. Going by this volume, we have five fascinating and expertly edited instalments to come.’ (From David Fallon, BARS Bulletin and Review, 41 (Dec. 2012), 25-7.)

‘The first volume of Pamela Clemit’s planned six-volume edition of William Godwin’s letters deserves the whole gamut of epithets that have come to be associated with her work: meticulous, discriminating, thorough, with a fine sense of the value of her subject. In the last two decades Godwin has gained an increasing amount of attention, becoming first an insistent presence, then a crux, and now a focal point in scholars’ re-vision of the Romantic period. Clemit has played a vital part in bringing the whole of Godwin’s oeuvre into this process.’ (From Victoria Myers, Keats-Shelley Journal, 61 (2012), 156-7.)

‘This volume’s detailed and assiduously researched notes are never intrusive or tendentious and enable the reader always to grasp the full significance and context of Godwin’s correspondence and provide a fascinating parallel narrative of modern British history’s most eventful and dramatic decade.… an indispensable resource for scholars of the late Enlightenment and Romantic eras in British history.’ (From Rowland Weston, Cercles: Revue pluridisciplinaire du monde anglophone (2012).)

‘Clemit’s superb introduction traces the larger history of the archive …. As we read through the full range of letters in Clemit’s dazzling first volume (and eagerly await the next) … we find a wonderfully various, continually surprising, and essentially non-doctrinaire writer.’ (From John Bugg, ‘Godwin’s Republic of Letters’, European Romantic Review, 24: 1 (2013), 93-100.)

‘Pamela Clemit’s long-awaited and impeccably edited first volume of Godwin’s letters gifts all his readers with a compelling new perspective …. When all six volumes of these letters are published, Clemit will have established one of the core texts of Romantic period literary studies.’ (From Graham Allen, English, 62: 238 (2013), 337-9.)