Charm in Literature from Classical to Modernism

Even Congreve's well-known “Music has charms to soothe a savage breast” (1697) retains the sense of magic and spell-casting. Not so in Milton, who could take charm either way, and it is both malign and benign in Paradise Lost.

Charm in Literature from Classical to Modernism

Charm in Literature from Classical to Modernism: Charmed Life discusses charm as both an emotional and aesthetic phenomenon. Beginning with the first appearance of literary charm in the Sirens episode of the Odyssey, Richard Beckman traces charm throughout canonical literature, examining the metamorphoses of charm through the millennia. The book examines the works of Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, Pope, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Proust, Joyce, Mann, and others, considering the multiplicity of ways charm is defined, depicted, and utilized by authors. Positioning these poems, dramas, and novels as case studies, Beckman reveals the mercurial yet enduring connotations of charm.

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