Unlocking The Cabinet of Love: Rochester, Reputation and the Eighteenth-Century Miscellany

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-75
JournalEighteenth-Century Life
Volume41
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017
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Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The Works of the Earls of Rochester and Roscommon was one of the most popular poetic miscellanies of the eighteenth century, with more than twenty editions published. Rochester’s verse filled the entire first volume, a prominence that proclaimed his importance as the foremost court poet of the Restoration. The Rochester the volume presented–as well as the poems it attributed to him—evolved across the early editions of The Works, and it was in the hands of the notorious bookseller Edmund Curll that its vision of Rochester took its most influential turn. Inserting a collection of pornographic poems at the close of the second volume under the title The Cabinet of Love, Curll subtly created a false association between Rochester and its content. Providing a bibliographical analysis of The Works, this essay traces the shifting ways in which Rochester and his poems were presented to readers of this enduringly popular miscellany before considering what the inclusion of its pornographic “cabinet” reveals about Rochester’s complicated reception history.