Romanticism is often synymous with models of identity and action that privilege individual empowerment and emotional automy. In the last two decades, these models have been the focus of critiques of Romanticism's purported self-absorption and alienation from politics. While such critiques have proven useful, they often draw attention to the conceptual or material tensions of romantic subjectivity while accepting a conspicuous, automous subject as a given, thus failing to appreciate the possibility that Romanticism sustains an alternative model of being, one anymous and dispossessed, one whose authority is irreducible to that of an easily recognizable, psychologized persona. In Anymous Life, Khalip goes against the grain of these dominant critical stances by examining anymity as a model of being that is provocative for writers of the era because it resists the Enlightenment emphasis on transparency and self-disclosure. He explores how romantic subjectivity, even as it negotiates with others in the social sphere, frequently rejects the demands of self-assertion and fails to prove its authenticity and coherence.
Jacques Khalip is Associate Professor of English and Modern Culture and Media at Brown University.