An obsession with deformity and amputation pervades the grotesque poetry of Thomas Hood. This article re-evaluates Hood's works in the light of body criticism, disability studies and theories of laughter, exploring the bodily presence in Romantic poetics. Neurotic laughter transfers between writing, written and reading bodies. Recent materialist readings of Hood introduced discourses of class and commodity to a critical heritage previously dominated by genre; this article interprets Hood's laughter as a physical crisis, which disrupts orthodoxy and yet is instrumental in constructing community. Hood's use of comic genre involves representations of physical pain which draw on his own lived experience. Hood's twin fascinations with limb deformity and capital punishment coincide in the killing joke of the 'leg-pull', a pun on the merciful intervention that puts victims of hanging out of their misery. The discussion draws on cultural disability studies for its ethical dimension.
|Journal||La Questione Romantica: Nuova Serie|
|Publication status||Published - Apr 2011|