Masks of Refinement: Pseudonym, Paratext, and Authorship in the Early Poetry of Thomas Moore
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Tonra, Justin (2014) 'Masks of Refinement: Pseudonym, Paratext, and Authorship in the Early Poetry of Thomas Moore'. European Romantic Review, 25 (5):551-573.
Thomas Moore adopted the pseudonymous persona of Thomas Little in order to place his early amorous poetry within distinct literary, historical, and generic contexts. He was motivated by a desire to provoke a favorable response from his readers by alluding to his literary precursors, but also by a keen awareness that crude biographical inferences were likely to be made on the basis of the poems' morality. These aesthetic and functional objectives are evident in the overlapping irony and sincerity of the volume's paratextual strategies. These strategies consistently tread the nebulous line between playfully activating readerly expectations and protecting Moore's identity, while also revealing the author's responsiveness to the principles and consequences of romantic authorship. The hostile critical reception for this amorous poetry prompted revisions which affirm Moore's conception of authorship as a pliable construction, and reveal the roles of multiple agents within the literary marketplace in shaping the function of the romantic author.